Yet Another Question I Cannot Answer

He asked me in the car,
“What is sand made of?”

And I said I didn’t know.

I said I thought it was just part of the earth,
like dirt, and trees, and mountains.

He asked me if it came out of the ocean
and I said no, I didn’t think so.

He said he thought it was made of
tiny pieces of smashed-up seashells.

Maybe some of the sand is tiny seashells,
I conceded.

“That’s definitely what it is,” he said firmly.

This place seems as good as any to see a ghost

This place seems as good as any to see a ghost
this tantalizing space between vulnerable and safe
the constant creaking of wood
wind shaking the tops of trees
the insistent clank of boats knocking against their moorings
lapping of the dark water on the banks of the invisible canal
distant chorus of frogs
I can see no one 
but I am surrounded by the night

All evening while everyone else was 
playing and eating and swimming and reading bedtime stories
I was plastered to the bed by a migraine
only vaguely aware of anything else
Still more hours lost to pain

And now, while everyone else sleeps
I keep watch from the screened porch
of someone else’s house
who I have never met

Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
July 2019

Solstice Meditation

This was my meditation and prayer during our worship service today at UUCA.

I invite you to close your eyes and put your feet on the floor
Envision how they are connected to the Earth
how all of us are connected to the Earth 
as the Earth tilts toward the sun 
Think about the distance those rays of light travel 
and how we are illuminated

We are in a moment of movement
A subtle shift from light to dark
It is the end of the school year
which can mean liberation and popsicles 
or an endless expanse of long days 
and aimless children 
or sweaty summer jobs

The switch in our collective consciousness 
from business and busyness 
to the smell of saltwater or the swimming pool 
or simply falling asleep 
listening to the baseball game 
and the whir of the ceiling fan

Yet we do not and we cannot rest in the shade 
for too long, 
knowing our brothers and sisters and children 
are suffering
We bear witness to the families at the border 
torn apart and trapped in cages 
by our own government
May these children and their parents 
be made free and made whole
May their lives be illuminated

We bear witness to our LGBTQIA siblings 
who live in fear for their safety and their lives
even as we celebrate Pride
we mourn victims of murder 
May our siblings be made free and whole 
May their lives be illuminated

We bear witness to the everyday sorrows
The beloved friend disappearing beneath disease
The broken relationship we struggle to repair
The next step we are afraid to take

May we face each day 
with compassion
with courage
with grace
May our love be illuminated. 
And may we generously share 
our sunshine 
or our shade 
with whoever needs it

I Woke Up Slowly

I woke up slowly

Struggling to swim to the surface

Of my subconscious

Dragged down deeper by

Bewilderment

Riding in someone else’s car with my unusually calm sister driving while we hop curbs and mow down security robots, accumulating electronic traffic tickets that we leave on the lawn of a stranger named John Heard.

Imaginary betrayals

My relatives both living and dead complaining that I never help and that I’m the most selfish cousin and an “East Coast educated elitist” which leaves me crushed, trying but failing to count how many times I’ve washed the dishes and desperate to demonstrate my unselfishness, but I cannot because I am invisible.

I thought they loved me.

When I am finally able to open my eyes, the danger and the lies and the hurt wash away into the waves.

Mostly.

I’m left brushing bits of sand off my body, blinking as I try to bring into focus

Who I really am.

Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

June 2019

Barefoot Day in Kangaroo Class

They were invited
to take off their shoes and socks
which is usually NOT allowed at school
but this was barefoot day
in kangaroo class

On the concrete floor the teachers
had taped down
bubble wrap
(the kind with big bubbles and the kind with small bubbles)
that padding that goes under carpet
and lengths of textured yellow foam–
packing material that could be a topographical map
of another planet

Along one wall
of the classroom
they laid out a long sheet
of brown butcher paper
with gallons of bright paint at one end

Each child who wanted to
(which was not everyone–
some built train tracks or
sculpted play dough or
did wooden puzzles of
farm animals and vehicles)
chose red or yellow or blue paint
and the teachers poured a puddle
onto a square of bubble wrap
and the child stepped in

The teachers had to hold the hand
of each child as they squished their toes
into the paint
because paint on bubble wrap
can be quite slippery
when you’re two or three years old

Walking along the brown paper path
they left small footprints
until they came to the end
where I had filled a big blue basin
with warm water
and they stepped in
and i washed their feet
with my hands
even though they did not know me at all
they leaned on my shoulders
to steady themselves
as I gently lifted one foot
and then the other
to wipe away the paint

Then I held their hands
as they stepped out of the water
onto a towel
where I dried their feet
and wiped off smears of paint
from their ankles that I had missed
(there was still some paint between their toes,
but I had to keep the line moving)

Soon they would return
having left more footprints
now in blended colors
because eventually all the paint
mixed together

and I would wash their feet again
and now they knew me as the lady
who was there to wash and dry
their feet
(still between their toes the paint clung)
and they smiled at me
in wonder,
so delighted by what they had done

At the end, one of the teachers decided
to walk through the paint and
down the brown paper path
and one of the little girls
quickly took her hand
to walk beside her and make sure
she was steady


Preston’s Pharmacy

A place I like to walk
is the aisles of the
specialty pharmacy
where they carry one of
seemingly everything
for any ailment or stage
of life
like breastfeeding supplies and
tiny vials of baby medicine
and one whole wall
filled with compression stockings
another lined with
wheelchairs, motorized recliners,
and furniture and accessories for your toileting ease
don’t forget
the aisle of tall candles
and boxed thank you cards
because you’re never too ill or incontinent
for elegance
or good manners.

The Avengers Get Their Nails Done

Before my second baby was born
I used to worry (a lot) about
having a boy
thinking, “what would I DO with a boy?”
as if he would turn out to be a different
species than me
rather than another gender
and that we would lack a
common language

Now he is almost six
and I understand that
what I was afraid of
was that he would be
a stereotype
of a boy
or that he would
(alarmingly)
be a clone
of boys I had known
who had scared me
or disgusted me
because of their
aggressiveness
or
crassness
or
insensitivity
which I wrongly
attributed
to testosterone
and the Y chromosome

My son loves to kiss me
and snuggle and
make art
together and
battle bad guys (not with me, because that’s not my thing)
and build Legos (sometimes with superheroes and bad guys
but sometimes not)
and watch the Great British Baking Show
and do martial arts
and play with his multitude of stuffed animals,
all of whom he has given names
and identities
(some straight, some gay, some trans)
and family relationships
(usually interspecies)

He likes to wear pink and purple (and sports shorts and Adidas)
I told him that I’m glad he knows
pink and purple are colors
for everyone
and not just for girls
He said unfortunately not everyone
at his school knows that
and not everyone at his school thinks boys
can wear nail polish
but he knows
how much fun it is
to get your nails done
and how cool it looks

I used to worry
that people would think
I was a boy
because my hair is short
because I mostly wear
t-shirts and jeans
In high school when I wore Doc Martens
I was told “those are men’s shoes.”
(Now I sometimes shop in the men’s department for my size 11 feet
and I receive many compliments on my brown leather wingtips)
In college when I asked the boys down the hall
to use the clipper to shave the back of my hair
I was told “that’s a lesbian haircut.”
and because I wore plaid flannel,
“you dress like a lesbian,”
(but seriously, it was the 90s)
A little girl once asked me, “are you a boy?”
I said no but she still said, “I think you’re a boy.”
When I wake up and stumble into the bathroom
in the middle of the night or
first thing in the morning
so many times I’ve looked in the mirror
and wondered if I looked that day like
Richard Simmons or Andy Gibb or Michael Moore
it’s always a weird male celebrity I see
I used to think that if I didn’t wear earrings
when I left the house
people would think I was a man
even though plenty of men
wear earrings when they leave the house
like my daughter’s 5th grade teacher
who was a middle-aged married father of two
who wore basketball shorts to teach and sported
a gold hoop in each ear

My son notices when I have new earrings
and is the first to compliment me
when I get my hair done
He often does not care if his clothes
are clashing colors
but sometimes he wants me to brush his hair
and help him choose the perfect outfit
for the occasion

My son recites the names of all the Avengers
(and their friends such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four)
and their unique capabilities
and asks me what powers I would like
and then endows me with them
and says,
“I love you with all my heart and all my dreams.”
and falls asleep with his forehead touching mine
and his arm around my neck