Sunday, December 30, 2012

remnants and a handbag

Inside Anastasia’s messy apartment, Bernard laid his pliers on the counter.  He surveyed her face.  Black hair, greasy as crows’ feathers, framed her cheeks and forehead.  Patches of crazy glue remained and other small areas were open and bleeding.  It couldn’t be helped.  Removing the mask had been a toilsome undertaking.

Sometimes Anastasia hadn’t understood what was happening.  Sometimes she had despaired or mourned the loss of a piece when he removed it.  Her eyes had been the most intricate part of the process.

“There now,” said Bernard.  “Authenticity.  But remember you’re still in recovery.”

“Yes,” said Anastasia with a smile.   She brushed her fingers along her jawbone.  “The air feels nice and my skin’s getting better.”

Heidi, the woman from apartment 125, burst in through the open door.  She staggered and pointed her finger at Anastasia.  “You’ve got shit on your face!  I could see it as I walked past the window.”

“Oh, um, hello.  Well, I’ve been working with Bernard for quite a long time to get rid of this mask.  It was sucking the love out of me.  What you see here is pretty much my actual face, and this ‘shit’ isn’t that big of a problem for me now that it’s exposed.”

“No, no, no!  You don’t understand.  This will never do!  You have to be presentable and do what’s right,” Heidi said, sharply.

Anastasia glanced at Bernard, then back at Heidi.  “That’s funny.  You remember my Aunt Shelley, right?  She absolutely loves her wrinkly, soft skin.  She had her mask removed years ago and just the other day she gave me a box containing some of the remnants.  They’re a token of the joy she experiences every day.  She asked me to give them to you.”

Heidi tightened her grip on her knock-off Coach handbag.

“They’ve got… um… shit on them, though.  The same sorta shit that’s on my face.” Anastasia said.  “I suppose you don’t want them?”

Bernard laughed.

Heidi’s knuckles grew white.  “I don’t think you understand what you’re dealing with here.  This is very, very serious.  Perfectly well meaning people like your Aunt Shelley go around with shit on their faces without knowing it, and it’s extremely offensive, not to mention evil!  You mustn’t be hurt when I offer you correction, Anastasia.  I’m doing you a favor by informing you of this atrocity!”

Anastasia’s eyes softened.  Bernard rubbed his whiskered chin.

She went on.  “I think they ought to write up a news article about these dangers!”

Anastasia got up and walked slowly toward Heidi.  She examined the severe part in her bleached hair, the curve of her cheeks.  “Here’s the thing,” she said, carefully.  You’re wearing a mask.  It’s damaging you.”

“What do you mean I’m wearing a mask?!  That’s so mean!  And how dare you say such a thing!” Heidi shrieked.

A salty tear traveled silently into one of Anastasia’s open sores.  Heidi didn’t notice.

“It wouldn’t be wise for me to say anything more at this point, but—“ Anastasia made her way past Bernard and opened her black filing cabinet.  From it she drew an old newspaper clipping.

Heidi looked nervously at the window, then fumbled in her handbag for her phone.  She texted some friends, Penelope and Jane, trembling all the while.

“Here.” Anastasia handed over the article.

Heidi, with bruised expression, skimmed over it and said, “Stop picking on me!  Both of you!”  She stumbled out of the apartment building into the dark, cold night.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

composition 9

In the carnage groaning the people go on roaming
They don't know what they do
Sick in flesh and soul, we get so tired
We need help from who?

Can you hear the strains of holy joy
coming through,
Breaking through the fear and violence?  Oh.

Savior as a fragile boy

On we go through the night, through the night
Whate'er befall us
With hands of light, hands of light

In troubles grim and trying amongst the people dying
May we lean on the truth
Some are masquerading, others quickly fading
They don't know what they do

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

my perfect day!

I ride, standing up, on the back of a super duper speedy hippopotamus who takes me into a magical forest that smells like freshly washed bed sheets and pine trees.  I jump off her wide, gray back into a humongous, soft layer of moss.  Tiny fairies float above me.  While I roll around giddy, they sprinkle laughing dust all over me and it feels refreshingly cool on my warm skin.

I get up with no effort at all and I run, my stunning blue dress flowing along with me like the undulating fin of a luminous fish.

My friend comes into view in the distance.  We run toward each other, laughing, and we're not the least bit weary.  We greet each other in a warm, hearty embrace—a hug that's neither too tight nor too weak, but just right.  We rise in the air like vibrant hot air balloons, high above the trees, and we're gathered into a cloud.  Birds that never poop fly along with us as we're carried to a giant picnic table in the sky.

All my loved ones are here and we're all smiling!  And our mouths never get tired from the smiling.  Rainbows, transparent and wet, surround us while we dine on our favorite foods.

We are all filled with light and joy, and our bodies are weightless.  The musical laughter of a multitude of barely visible angels echoes unsurpassably in our ears.

We are finally free. 

Monday, December 10, 2012


i am blue
the color of depth
and sadness
summer skies
enigmatic sea

i am orange
the color of bravery
and flame
warm sunsets

Sunday, December 9, 2012

three fish and fake leaves

We got another fish for our small aquarium on Friday and I love her.  She has one black eye and dark splotches all over her body, along with touches of gold and shiny white that goldfish typically have.  We call her Finley.

Watching our freshwater pets has become one of my favorite ways to relax.  In the evening I had trouble locating the splotchy one.  Finally, I realized she was hiding behind the synthetic plant.  She lingered precariously behind a fake leaf, wiggling her beautiful body to and fro as if she were distressed or suffering.

The other two, Goldie and Spot, swam in the open.  Not always smoothly, of course.  Sometimes they bumped into one another or became preoccupied with their reflections on the tank’s wall.

I thought the two of them might woo Finley out from hiding, using some special language known only by fish.  A girl can imagine all she wants, right?

In the picture, if you look closely at the plant’s reflection you might see a tiny part of her tail fins.

Friday, December 7, 2012

chillin' out

During Sunday morning worship services at Immanuel Lutheran Church, our pastor wears black clothing with a clerical collar.  The black symbolizes sinfulness.  Over top of that he wears a white robe called an alb.  It's a seamless garment meant to symbolize the robe of righteousness Christ has wrapped around us.

He also wears a colored cloth called a stole over his shoulders.  It's a historical symbol indicating that God has placed a yoke of humble service upon his shoulders, and the color of it depends on the season of the church year.

These symbols can be a useful attempt at communicating the mystery that sinfulness is covered by the righteousness of Christ.  Most people, perhaps, don't realize the pastor's outfit is symbolic.  They might think he wears a robe because that's just how it's always been.

Some think the use of these vestments helps draw attention away from the pastor as an individual and instead puts the focus on his unique role in a worship service.  Others think the pastor should wear something less strange-looking so as not to intimidate outsiders who may come in to visit.  Still others adamantly protest any idea of doing away with the vestments because they think tradition is extremely important.

My opinion is the meaning behind the garments is beautiful and worth remembering.  At the same time, it's only symbols and clothing.  Our hearts are more important than what we wear.

People can nitpick and fuss all they want over what the pastor wears, but I'm just gonna be over here chillin' out.