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

Out to Pasture – A Rhyming Poem

Her hooves pawed at the frozen ground.

Her coat matted a sticky mud brown.

The haflinger snorted, nostrils flared

Tossing her mane without a care

Or so it seemed, this lonely horse

Left in the cold without recourse

She was too old, her back too swayed

A life giving rides to any who paid

But now, no longer able to work

No more carrot treats as a perk

Standing in the mirror, she nuzzled her reflection

The mirror an impractical gift of appreciation

Her breath fogged the silvery surface

As the moon emerged and shone on her face

A tingling started and then a pain

Then something blossomed in her brain

A horn of gold twisted from her forelock

Her coat showed no more signs of muck

Her body grew with muscles strong

Her mane and tail got Fabio long

She turned to the mirror and let out a neigh

She won’t become glue to her owner’s dismay

No more prancing for the pleasure of others

A unicorn surely should not be smothered

She nudged her stall door then galloped out of the barn

Without a look back, she didn’t give a darn

As a unicorn, she didn’t need to linger

But if only she had a middle finger

I had fun writing this poem for Sadje’s picture prompt What do you see? Challenge #12 although the inspiration was actually a sad event.

My daughters take horse back riding lessons. There is a halflinger named Sarge who has been at this barn for a long time and is usually the first horse that new students ride due to his gentle nature. He is getting old and has been having some physical issues. His owner mentioned selling him when he can no longer give riding lessons. I asked the owner if she would sell him despite making her a lot of money giving riding lessons. She said despite Sarge being a good horse, that he still needed to earn his keep and that she would have no use for him if he is no longer able to work.

I didn’t grow up on a farm so it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea of animals that aren’t pets, that they are there to serve their purpose for humans – whether pulling wagons, laying eggs, giving milk or being our food. I know I participate in this exploitation and I joke about it (if cows didn’t taste so good…) however this reality really saddened me. After years of work, this horse would just be tossed away as if he didn’t matter.

The Go Dog Go Cafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt to use the phrase “standing in the mirror, she…” helped me turn this sad scenario into a happy ending. Sometimes we need to take a good look in the mirror to see our self-worth and to leave situations or people who don’t honor our worth. We might not sprout a golden horn, but our confidence and self esteem would shine through.

©️ 2020 iido

Gratitude Gestures – A Haibun

In the chilly autumn evening, deep contented sighs battle with the hum of heated air wafting from the grate. The food has disappeared but the smell of fullness lingers: the tart scent of oranges in the cranberry sauce, the savory thyme lining the turkey’s moist cavity, the sweet butter hiding in the mashed potatoes.

Unsaid words also hide in the small gestures of family. “I love you” is plated with each dish on the table. “Take care of yourself” is served with second helpings. All desserts come with a side of “glad you decided to spend this holiday with us this year”. “Thank you’s” are coded in each utensil that is washed.

Gratitude gestures

With knives and forks and drink toasts

Autumn’s chill dissolves

I’m coming out of my food coma and wrote this haibun for Frank Tassone’s gratitude themed Haibun Monday at d’Verse and Go Dog Go’s Tuesday writing prompt themed “Thanksgiving”.

We had a traditional American Thanksgiving meal at my in-laws. I was looking forward to Thanksgiving with a Vietnamese twist however there was no turkey pho or banh mi with cranberry relish. The food was still delicious and watching the cousins play together made the occasion even more special.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year – for not only my family (immediate and extended) but also for the family of friends I have been blessed with here on WP, as well as, in real life, at school, church and my running group. The saying “many hands make light work” come to mind in terms of the many hands that touch my life and make light work of and support the improvements I need to do to become a better version of myself.

As this holiday season gets underway, I hope we all get a chance to pause and appreciate the people, things and activities that bring joy to our lives.

©️ iido 2019

A Parisian Tale of Loss – A Dizain

This tale that I tell of sorrow and loss
Arrives at this place that poets still love
At the cafe, eyes convey their pathos
While ours frantically seek pray’rs from above
Have we lost that je ne sais quoi? Sort of…
No more sweet kisses stolen by the Seine
Covered in dust are my notebook and pen
Little voices clamor for attention
Our passions still strong but shown less often
The loss is tempered by Love’s additions

This Dizain was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word #199 – Loss, for Beth’s Tuesday Writing Prompt at the Go Dog Go Cafe (use the words “poet” and “pen”) and for this month’s d’Verse Poetry Form Challenge. How fitting that the dizain poetry form has French origins as this one was inspired by our trip to Paris.

The last time I was here was when my then boyfriend, now husband proposed to me at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was his “grand gesture” and one of my most fondest memories. We ate rich foods, drank delicious wine and sat in cafes for hours savoring our cafe au lait.

This trip included our children so there weren’t any long hours savoring a little cup of coffee. The food was still good but our wine consumption was limited to gulping down a glass of wine in between managing melt downs and sibling disputes.

I don’t know what I had expected from this trip, but I do know that what I lost from a couple standpoint, I gained from a family viewpoint, and I loved every minute of it!

I think Patrick said it best in his poem for this prompt:

The joys once lived
Remain in our memories
And in our hearts

In the empty spaces
Something new, perhaps
Something new to love

©️ iido 2019

Thoughts Written on January 6 – A Quadrille

My summer island beckons me

When the sun hides behind

Winter clouds. Her waves, trapped

In whispering shallows, softly request

My return. Her rocky shoreline

Curved in a waiting embrace.

Her salty scent of carefree

Days warming the frigid air.

Only 6 more months.

Quadruple prompts in this quadrille! Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #196 – Islands was the basis for this poem while Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to create a poem about the seasons set the scene. I was also able to incorporate dVerse’s Quadrille #83 – Sun (Happy 8th Anniversary dVerse!!) and the Go Dog Go Cafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt – Whispering Shallows. Whew!

I wrote this quadrille thinking of my two favorite islands – Maui (where the picture was taken) and Martha’s Vineyard. We’ve had lovely vacations in both these islands. They are vastly different in topography yet both bring a sense of peace and contentment – that “Hakuna Matata” feeling. Maybe it’s the sun on my skin or the smell of the sea or the gentle whisper of the waves that makes food taste better, colors look more vibrant, love feel deeper. I search for this during cold winter days.

©️ iido 2019

Bedtime Routine – A Lai Poem

Baby, drift to sleep

Shhh, don’t make a peep

No cries

Let’s start counting sheep

One and two and leap

Close eyes

Let the Sandman creep

Breathing becomes deep

Reprise

My second attempt at a Lai Poem for the dVerse poetry form challenge. This one incorporates Devereaux’s Tuesday Writing Prompt at the Go Dog Go Cafe. His prompt today is to use the phrase “drift to sleep” in a poem or prose.

I look back and realize I have many poems about sleep or to be more accurate, lack of sleep. It’s been over a decade since I can claim having a good night’s sleep. The bags under my eyes are now a permanent fixture despite the fleeting memories of snuggles and whispered fears and hopes.

©️ iido 2019

Soul Fertilizer – A Haibun and Running Update

The packed, gravel path crunches like my favorite candy bar beneath my feet.  The smell is not delicious chocolate but cow patties, liquified and repurposed. The steam from this concoction rises from the turned earth like the steam from my body on this 6 mile run. The smells are similar but mine reeks of determination and accomplishment. Each run is risky – maybe if I was more consistent, I would know what to expect, I would know that I wouldn’t fail, that I would keep going and not give up.  But I don’t, except for today – today, my run wasn’t shit, but it did fertilize my soul.

Risk in every step

But I’m not going gently

In that fading light

This haibun was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #183 – Risk and also incorporates Beth’s Tuesday Writing Prompt at the Go Dog Go Cafe to use the phrase “fading light”.

I haven’t done an update on my training for the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon that I am training for – maybe it’s because I really haven’t been consistent with my training at all. With sick kids and spring break and other obligations, running has definitely taken a back seat except for this past weekend when I was able to get a run in with a local friend of mine who is also part of Moms RUN this Town.

Danielle was one of the first running moms I met when we moved to PA. She recently had an adorable baby boy and is training for the same half marathon in Niagara as I am (she was the one who actually told me about this race). Danielle is one of the most kind, energetic and determined women that I have met here.  Being a local, she taught me so much about this area (like how to pronounce certain words, introducing me to the local farmers’ market) when I first arrived.  Running with Danielle is always fun and this run was no exception. We were even able to see the Easter Bunny at the end of our run!

After this spring break week, I am getting back into a regular schedule with running so be ready for more sweaty pictures of me!

©️ iido 2019