America – A Short Story

Looking out my back door, I tried to keep my breathing steady. It had been twenty-four hours since Mamá said goodbye. She had walked me to the school door instead of just dropping me off. She had given me an extra long hug and whispered, “Hay una sorpresa para ti, in your lunchbox,” before letting me go and walking quickly down the steps so she wouldn’t be late for work.

I had entered the school and didn’t give her another thought. Until she didn’t come home for dinner. And she wasn’t in the kitchen making arroz con chorizo on Saturday morning. And now it was Saturday evening.

I walked into the living room and picked up my cell phone. I tapped the “news” icon and watched the app launch. I saw it then, a picture of the factory where she worked. Mamá was coming out of the front door, flanked by two men in dark clothing, carrying guns, and wearing bullet proof vests that had the three scariest letters in the entire English language.

I-C-E

Mamá was still wearing the gloves she used for cleaning, her hair was mussed, the curly tendrils like a crown of ivy on her head. The headline said, “The first day of school turned into a nightmare after record immigration raids.” I sat on the couch, my heart rate increasing.

“No te preocupes,” Mamá would say when I whispered my fears to her. “Tengo fe in this nation.”

Mamá might have faith in this country, but I no longer did.

The photo above was taken by Patrick for his Pic and a Word Challenge #216 – America. I’ve also incorporated other prompts from this last week: Go Dog Go Cafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt to use the word “ice” and the number “twenty four”; and the Ragtag Daily prompt for Saturday – Nation (Thank you, Punam!), Thursday – Looking out my back door and Wednesday – Goodbye.

This story is based on a true story of an immigration raid in Mississippi that occurred on the first day of school in 2019 – so it isn’t really “fiction”, hence the title. The children, of the immigrants who were taken, were not picked up from school and had no way of knowing what happened to their parents. I can only imagine the terror of those children – losing a parent is a big fear for any child. This incident also reminded me of the way the Jewish people were rounded up by the Nazis. Is this what America has become?

©️ 2020 iido

Forty-four Words are Not Enough – A Quadrille

In the nick of time

My motto, my nemesis

My days overfilled with

Kids needing

Husband wanting

Daughterly obligations

School “volunteering”

Catholic guilt

Running miles – Ha! No

Running behind – yes

Secretary, chef, driver

Driving myself crazy

Oh look something else to sign up for!

This quadrille responds to De Jackson’s (WhimsyGizmo) quadrille prompt #87 – Nick and Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt to write about my life and the things/events that make an impression on me.

Well, if you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know my poetry and prose usually revolve around my identities as a mother and runner. This quadrille is no exception!

The school year has started for all my kids, even my preschooler is in three day PreK. Yet despite having three days “all by myself,” I find myself still running out of time, running late, running from appointment to appointment. I’ve signed up to help out at their school and at our church while training for a race, writing and keeping up with household duties. This might not be a lot for other people, but it’s a lot for me. I’ve been thinking about going back to work outside the home but where would I fit that in? That “nick” of time is not truly enough.

©️ iido 2019

Niagara’s Gift – An Etheree

You opened the door to a darkened room

Only the colored waters tumbling,

Like my heart for your thoughtful gift,

Into the steamy cauldron

Of sacrifice, support

Commitment and strength

Only with you

Life’s barrels

Withstand

Falls

This etheree was inspired by Hélène’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt of a beautifully wrapped gift. Gifts can come in many types – some are concrete objects, others are experiences, while still others are words or emotions. Gifts are usually given for special occasions but the best ones, I think, are the ones given “just because”.

The other picture is the view from our hotel room this weekend – a gift from my loving, supportive hubby who also drove us all the way to Niagara Falls so I could run the the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon. The race will start in just 7 hours but I am awake with nervous energy. I did not train very well for this race and I just got a new shoes two days ago (since my old pair were completely destroyed) so I am not setting the bar too high on my finish time.

I did get to meet the trailblazing Katherine Switzer who is as lovely and kind as she is inspirational! She is 72 and still so vibrant! She told me that her ancestors were Germans who settled in the Lancaster, PA area and became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Who knew?

I’m also starting the race with a group of wonderful women from Moms RUN this Town, not to mention the hundreds of other fabulous women who are running this race. So, I know that no matter my time tomorrow – I’m going to finish and feel accomplished!

But I also know I wouldn’t be here this weekend without the gift of my family supporting this crazy obsession of mine to run. So this race is for them…although I’m still keeping the medal all to myself.

©️ iido 2019

My Name has a Story – A sonnet

Look up my name – it says I’m dead by now

It is an old name from the motherland

Whole, universal, complete – and that’s how

I try to be, inclusive, kind and grand

Two middle names, lovingly I’m given

One from a once proud, powerful people

The other means free, and surely driven

Ambition higher than a church steeple

Illustrious is how we end this tale

And turning words to action, my new game

What have I done? Whatever does not fail

That is the weight of my whole entire name

What’s in a name? The question is so bold

Your hopes, dreams are my stories to be told

This poem was in response to two prompts from dVerse Poets – one for a poem in Iambic Pentameter and the other for a poem on the theme “What’s in a name?” The links to join these challenges have expired (I honestly don’t know how other writers can churn out poetry so quickly and easily!) however I wanted to challenge myself, especially since I haven’t been able to write as much the past few weeks. This is my first (Shakespearean) sonnet – a poem in iambic pentameter with the structure ABABCDCDEFEFGG.

While I love the challenge of poetry with structure, I do feel that it sometimes hinders the true words or meaning of the poem that I want to convey. I love my name (despite reading in a baby name book that anyone with the name Irma should be dead by now – and that was in 2006!) and love how it is equal parts of my mom and dad. I wanted that to come through in this poem, but felt the structure, especially the rhymes, made that difficult. Maybe I will try a blank verse sonnet next!

©️ iido 2018

Empty

This has been such a full week for me with a lot of additional activities besides our usual ones. Yet it is sometimes when I am busiest that my thoughts tend towards the opposite direction: loneliness, quietness, stillness. Hence, Patrick Jennings’ Pic and Word Challenge #153 – Emptiness, hits the spot again! While his lovely words look at outward, mine veered inward. Opposites….

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Empty

My womb is empty

No more sparks of life

Like fireflies on a summer night

A fleeting hope twinkling into sad thought

My womb is empty

Candle wishes extinguished

The birthday banner ripped and askew

Only cone hats left to point fingers at who’s to blame

My womb is empty

An unwanted Frankenstein

Stitched and stapled, stretched and scarred

Lightning bolts of regret

My womb is empty

It can add no more

4 out of 6 is more than statistical chance

Minus its function – a fraction of its worth

My womb is empty

Of sad thoughts

Of blame

Of regret

Of function

Now what will I do with all that space?

©️ iido 2018

Details

This poem was inspired by Pic and a Word Challenge #157 – Details. While I love details in architecture and nature, I am fascinated by details in people, from their looks to their behaviors. This poem takes some “creative license” but I hope its narrative captures an honest reality.

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I zero in

On the cracks in the walls

The spaces between the tile and grout

The layer of dust on the grand piano

The peeling Formica under 80’s sought after giveaway cups

The places where your innovative nature took precedence over getting the job done right.

I zero in

On the grays in your hair

And the spots on your hands

The slowness in your cane aided walk

Your mouth agape during your afternoon nap

The hand me up shirt you’ve been wearing for decades because it still fits

I zoom out

And see the humor and kindness in your eyes

The hands that lovingly prepare my favorite meal

The 20 year old bed that fits generations

The clock where time has stopped but happiness lives on

The struggle of remembering and honoring and forgetting and accepting.

I zoom out

And notice what you do without

What you’ve sacrificed

What you’ve preserved

What you’ve done with love

What you’ve done for love.

I zero in on that detail.

©️ iido 2018

My Greatest Fear

This post was inspired by the Go Dog Go Tuesday Writing prompt: write an acrostic poem that spells out your greatest fear. Wow. Good thing my greatest fear isn’t disclosing too much or being too vulnerable. Seriously.

I had to think about this a lot – what am I afraid of? Not any type of animal or insect (although I will scream if it means someone else will do the dirty deed of killing the latter). Not really any activity although I’m not thrilled about things that involve heights especially if I’m being dangled on said heights with just nylon between me and the swan dive of death. Thinking of death, I don’t feel afraid of dying either. It happens to us all. Dealing with loss – I’m surviving that.

I remember a moment after giving birth to my twins, Lucas and Larissa, when they were only 22 weeks old – just a week shy of the “age of viability”. The doctor told me, “They’re really small and at this stage of gestation, they only have a 50/50 chance to live. Do you still want us to do everything we can to save them?” My answer, of course, “Yes – anything, everything!” My children didn’t survive, but it was at that moment that I thought to myself, “If I had to die so my children would live, would I be willing to die for them?”

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My Greatest Fear

Crying will not help

Only sacrifice

Will be enough

Am I enough?

Realizing that

Death is an option

I am afraid

Courage escapes me

Eternity will know I failed

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What I really fear is being a coward – being afraid and not standing up or speaking out when I need to, especially when it comes to protecting my children or others who I care about. It’s being afraid to make the ultimate sacrifice if it comes down to me or family/friends.

I know people have given their lives to protect others – as part of their job or because they felt compelled to. I know people put their lives at risk to speak out for those who are unable to. I know people intervene when they see injustice or see others getting hurt.

I am afraid that when the time comes, I will not be one of those people. I will cower in my comfortable life and leave the heavy lifting for others to do. I am afraid deep down inside of showing the world how much of a coward I really am.

Although, when it’s written as an acrostic poem, it doesn’t seem so scary….