Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- choose pink December 7, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:11 pm
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“No, honey!” the mother said

reaching across that table and plucking

a crayon from her daughter’s hand.

“The sky isn’t pink.  Here,

use this blue crayon.”

The little girl blinked tears.

The teacher leaned over,

and studied the picture.

“What a beautiful sunset

you’ve drawn!” she said.

.

.

For Charlotte, who is teaching crafts at the art gallery, and is amazed at some parents.

 

poem- time tree August 11, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:20 pm
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The tree outside my bedroom window

was the diameter of my skinny child legs:

smooth skinned trunk,

sweet green leaves.

Now, I reach my mother arms

around rough bark,

scrape my wrists as

I stretch to touch

my finger tips together.

There’s summer sun in the scent

of poplar leaves.

I look into the window

searching for my youthful face

gazing out at the future.

 

Baby boy June 14, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:17 pm
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Baby boy,

blue blanket tucked into your chin,

Thumb in in mouth, jaw moving tch-tch-tch-tch.

Perfect tiny face,

an animated melon

beneath the blanket,

immersed in the sweet scent of diaper powder.

I blink.

Baby boy,

Body stretched across the mattress,

Toes draped over the edge,

blankets splayed across your waist,

whiskers bristling your chin.

Mouth agape: GRZZZZ-GRRRRZ-GrrrrrrZ

in the pungent scent of sweat.

Baby boy.

.

.

.

(Even when they’re men, their mothers see the babies they once held in their arms.)

 

What’s the point of fashion, anyway? October 13, 2012

Fashion matters because every day people get up in the morning and, with the palette of clothes they find in their closets and dressers, they attempt to create a visual poem about a part of themselves they wish to share with the world. 

J.J. Lee.  Measure of a Man. p. 53

I was raised by a mother who loved fashion and filled her basement with fabric, patterns and notions.  She crafted beautiful garments, and rarely threw anything out.  Which meant when we moved her from Kelowna here to Salmon Arm, we moved eight closets full of her clothes, and a hundred or so pairs of shoes.  It also meant that Vogue magazine was a staple in our house, and that I grew up with a keen eye on clothes.

J. J. Lee wrote his biography of his father within the context of his time as an apprentice tailor.  His father’s suit provided an exploration of the suit as symbol and metaphor in his own life, but also in the life of all men.  Clothing makes the man, and he was trying to figure out the man the clothing made.

I love his expression of fashion as a visual poem.  It’s very accurate.  Our clothes give the message we wish to send to the world on any particular day.  Whether it’s laid back casual with jeans and a Tshirt or cute and quirky with a hat, bright tunic and leggings, we say something about ourselves.  But we don’t wear the same thing every day, just as we wouldn’t write the same poem every day.

Every day we adorn ourselves to be a visual poem.

I like that.

 

Vesta August 16, 2012

Filed under: Alpha-biography,Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:11 am
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Vesta

I quite like Vesta.  She is the hearth goddess, the one who keeps the home fires burning.  Vesta is a virgin goddess, but she is ‘mom’ to the rest of the gods.  She’s the one who provides the milk and cookies and the ear after the stressful day battling monsters.

On Mother’s Day, the sweet and mushy cards abound and they mostly seem to envision the same mother, devoted and appreciated.  But mothers are women, and they are diverse!

I have 6 mothers.

First, I have the mother who carried me, thoroughly nauseated and regretting the idea, within her body and who raised me.  She is a creator mother.  She makes clothes, quilts, jewelry, tapestries, sweaters, and good food.   She gardens, and eats her harvest, while her flowers are admired by neighbours.  She has had four children, each quite different in outlook.  She cares for them with gifts of time and talent.

Next, I have the four Finnish host mothers who sheltered me on my youth exchange:

The first, was like Vesta.  She was  a nurse who had raised five amazing children, and she welcomed me into her embrace with a loving care that overwhelmed me with its sweetness.  She patiently listened each evening, sitting with me and asking me to describe my day and the news from home.  With my growing Finnish vocabulary, funny drawings and a Finnish English dictionary as a last resort, I learned to communicate with her.   I grew by leaps and bounds.

The second was an athletic teacher.  She was tough and no nonsense.  She had four children.  Three older teens (one in the army) and a two year old.  She was harried and busy.  I was devastated to have left my first host family, and suffering from serious Seasonal Affective Disorder while I was living there (though no one knew it at the time: I slept all the time, had no energy, and felt very morose).  I wasn’t a very good exchange student there, to be honest.  What I remember most, actually, was that the bathroom with the shower/tub / sauna didn’t have a lock, and the two year old would come in whenever I wanted to bathe.  I had no privacy, and was terrified of having my host dad or host brother walk into the room accidentally.  I smelled bad when I lived there, as a result! :-S   She was the working mother of a toddler.  Her life was full and exhausting.

The third was a trophy wife of a banker.  Bouffant bleach blonde hair, blue eye shadow, and black eye liner were her trademarks.  She had two children who were away from home, so I was a relief to her her boredom.  Not that she was often bored.  Her calling was as a hostess.  There was a constant stream of guests, dressed to the nines, holding their wine glasses, and discussing the world. She wore beautiful clothes, practised her English on me, and went travelling.  They left me alone rather frequently, and I found that I didn’t mind the independence of having my own little apartment where I could shower in security, but I missed the embrace of a family.

The fourth was the wife of a sailor.  She was grounded, earthy, and fun.  She had two teens and a 9 year old.  She welcomed me into the household and treated me like one of her own, taking me everywhere.  We chatted constantly and I felt understood and appreciated.  I adored my little sister in particular, as she had the time and interest to take me around the neighbourhood, have me at her school for show and tell, and to chatter with me constantly so that my Finnish was solidified.

When I married, I received my sixth mother.  My mother-in-law is a pious, caring lady who is anxiously devoted to her children and grandchildren.  She is a wife of a professor and farmer who hosts crowds of visiting entomologists, ornithologists, lepidoptorists, genealogists, farmers, church members and friends from all walks of life with good grace and sincere interest.  She adores each of her in-law children and grandchildren and makes sure we know it.

Vesta guards the hearth and everyone gathers around its warmth for sustenance, care, and conversation.  Pull up a chair.  Whatever kind of mother or child you are, there is room.

 

the truth about motherhood April 14, 2012

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:45 pm
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At the moment, I’m thinking about The Cat Years

.

Giving birth

to all the dreams

of a future,

a blessing

longed for,

imagined

named

years—

decades—

before.

Happiness

held tightly

and blinking brown eyes

sleepily from a blanket

tightly wrapped into

a cocoon of possibility.

.

Walking away,

snarling and critical,

bored and irritated,

cynical.

Mocking talents,

unappreciative of

sacrifices made,

opportunities given.

.

Kindnesses

rebuffed,

communication

ignored,

considerations

declined.

.

Mocking the dreams

and the sweet scent of

hope that lingered

in the folds of

new skin

wrapped tightly

with what we thought

was happiness.

.

Possibility is a

far more pleasant

contemplation

than reality.


 

 
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