Tag Archives: judgement

Eyed Up

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Standing at the edge of the soccer field
She swung her rope
Jumped
Jumped again
Varying her speed to vary her heart rate
Intense bursts followed by leisurely hops
She kept her eyes on her son’s practice
His perspiring brow mirroring her own
As he sprinted towards the goal

Other eyes were on her
Some of the moms
Some of the dads
Some dads’ eyes lingering
Assuming she performed for them
Versus her health
Her form fitting yoga pants and sports shirt
Selected by her for comfort
And to insure her clothing didn’t obstruct her workout
Kept her safe and cool
Moved well with her
And made her feel confident
Must really have been slipped into
They believed
To entice men to stop and stare
Excite a biological imperative to ogle each curve
And assess her attractiveness
Her motives
Her worth

How shameful for a busy mom
To multitask on a beautiful day
Attend her son’s practice
And still fit in some exercise
Before stopping at the store
To pick up her family’s own groceries
As well as those of her elderly mother
Swing by her mom’s place to drop off the bags
Carry them all in and unload them
And encourage her sweaty, antsy son to sit by his grandma
And swap stories about their day
As she threw out the expired yogurt and milk in the fridge
Print so small her mom could never spot the spoil
Change her sheets
Fill her mom’s pill box for the week
And make sure she had everything she needs

Finally, setting out her trash cans on the curb
Before climbing back in her car
To rush home in time to prepare dinner
For her two hungry boys and hungrier husband
Put her own groceries away
Then run her other son to swim practice
And remain poolside to praise his progress
Before heading back home and throwing in two loads of laundry
Paying the bills
While helping both boys with their homework
Fill out permissions slips for upcoming field trips
Clean up after the dog in the yard before the sun set
And throw a ball for their ancient spaniel to chase
Scratch her belly and giving her a treat
Pack everyone’s lunches for the next day
Fold the now clean laundry and set it atop appropriate dressers
Load the dishwasher
Wipe off the counters
Ask her husband about his day
And talk about his frustration with his boss
And the state of the country
And their shared distaste over the unfathomable resurgence of high-waisted jeans
Finalize the schedule for the upcoming weekend
To determine which parent is taking which child to which game
As they perfectly conflict on Saturday
Before she set out her clothes for the next day
So when she gets up before the sun rises
She won’t need to turn on the light
And disturb her husband as she gets ready for work
Sets out the cereal boxes and bowls for the family
Rinses blueberries and places them in the center of the table
Along with a note, “Love you all. Boys, please turn in the signed permissions slips that I put in your folders in your backpacks or you won’t be able to go on the trip to Philly. Have a wonderful day!”
And heads out the door in the still dark
To go make money
To help pay for the team fees and the groceries and the gas
And veterinarian bills

Please
Let us judge this mom
Let’s put pictures of her jumping rope on social media
Let’s assume she chose to stand where she stood so everyone could best see her
Instead of where she had room to jump and still see the field
And let’s talk to all of our friends about her disparagingly
Criticize her for her ostentatious show
Of fitness and a concern for her own health and wellbeing
As she carries the weight of her family
On her capable, well defined shoulders every day
With enthusiasm and love

They Didn’t Die

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Before she’d open the door
she would hook their small chests
into harnesses
attach leashes
and hold tightly
as she turned the knob

The boys would push past
her tanned legs
wild horses stampeding
a canyon of calves and knees
They would rush into the day
pulling her slight form along
as she strained to hold
their two years of energy
multiplied by two

She was 21
petite
hair a silk river
running to her waist
hands perfectly shaped
to hold guitars and paint brushes
She would sometimes clip
the boys’ leashes to a clothesline
strung across the back patio
allowing the straight-haired boy
to sift and toss sand in a box
while the blonde one
with hazel eyes
drove big trucks full of blocks
nearer the wall

The neighbors stood behind
sheets of glass
watching
and called the authorities
outraged by the restraints
muttering accusations of abuse
so an officer was dispatched
to speak to the mother

He couldn’t talk to the father
who had died
the night the boys were born
a drunk driver preventing him
from ever seeing his children
holding their impossibly tiny
preemie bodies
knowing one had curly hair
and darker eyes like him
the other matching the mother
browns and blues

The father never got to open
a single door for them
watch as they rushed out
all exhuberance
toward every hazzard
every wonder

September 2014
Julie Ayers

Bath Fixtures and Beethoven

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I’ve been holding back,
carelessly squandering my verve
in a desire to pass,
repressing urges to scribble lines
or take photographs
when a minister hands a jeaned child
a purple iris
and the wisp girl grips it tightly,
petals forming fireworks
above her silk and sand waterfall
of perfectly trimmed bangs.

I didn’t dance in the aisle at Home Depot
Friday morning
when Slung-lo started playing.
SLUNG-LO!,
in Home Depot,
like a pretty message from the gods,
and I tried to pretend like it wasn’t,
and that my heart was not cliff diving
in ecstasy
over one of my happy songs
raining down from rafters
as I assessed a display of shower heads.
I failed to drop my shoulders,
allow my head to shake free,
transform to flow and bliss.

I tried not to show
any of the watching world
the depth of the gash
on my spirit last Thursday,
a veritable internal hemorrhage,
hiding instead behind a poem
about a man
being more than his bland façade
might suggest.
Anemic offerings
when I should have splattered
the room with blood,
let loose my murderous thumbs
on words that cut and skewered,
plumbed pain,
making it both singular and universal.

Beethoven fearlessly
wandered around muttering
things like “I want to seize fate by the throat.”
Sure, he had social problems,
failed romantically over and over
and went deaf,
but he wrote Allegro from Violin Sonata, Op. 24,
playing out his jubilation and his anguish
across sheets,
through notes, and strings,
in parlors and on stages.

Every last one of us
alternately stumbles and destroys,
succeeds and glides,
but few possess the daring
to sincerely share the rawest
turmoil and joy,
channel and elevate
pure emotion to art.

I am grateful for the Beethovens,
the fearless,
for those who have let loose,
uncapping the rage and the love,
refusing to hold back
in hardware stores
or concert halls,
braving full exposure
and judgmental eyes,
to bring us beauty,
loan us,
even if only for moments,
hearts capable of withstanding
unsanitized truth.

 

April 6, 2014
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 6

 

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Toppings

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IMG_3187Toppings

Her brown shoulders bare
but for the merest of white silken straps
she glides
into the glass wrapped
dining room
in her size 0
backless
low-front-cut
dress
slips into the ocher chair
pulled back for her
by the disembodied
dark hair dusted hand

Padma then eats

Plate after plate is tendered
she sups on the finest morsels
fashioned by eleven astounding chefs

Her perfection
breached
by that one long scar
on her arm
which allows us
to almost believe
she is not so dissimilar to us
that the burger we clutch
could yet be transmuted
to divine truffle risotto
that we
too
can eat more than our fill
brush the crumbs from our laps

and rise
tall and willowy
smiling
into the camera
disgorging judgment

February 2014
Julie Ayers