Saturday, September 27, 2008

Visiting Mom

My mother's dog bit me, twice. She has this completely undisciplined dog, Jingles, that growls at her own husband and bites every person who comes into the house. That dog runs the place. They completely modify their lives around the dog, and blame the victim when Jingles bites. Cruisin' for a lawsuit.

But overall I'm happy with my visit to Virginia. Rolling hillsides, crickets. I'm over-fed on Mom's filipino food. I've fallen into the pattern of my mother's life: picking-up and delivering, picking-up and delivering food from donation sites to homeless shelters and day centers. My mother, Thelma, is a one-woman ministry to the homeless. Bingo twice a week, listening to the old filipino ladies tapping their cards and whispering the numbers they need like invocations. At 63, she has the energy and drive of a Tasmanian devil. Wonder where I get it from?

My youngest sister, half-sister by another marriage, Elizabeth, drove 3 hours to visit. And my youngest brother, George Jr, a state wrestling champion who I hardly know, comes and goes with his buddies. The house is quiet, except for Jingles patrolling his property.

Walking somewhere with my mother I saw a burnt out house. The thing that stuck with me though was a bird house, also burned, nailed to the center of the porch. Somehow the bird house, in miniature, illustrated the dynamism of the fire more than the blackened house itself. One of those images you see that sticks with you. The bird house will likely work its way into a poem because it evokes more than it is. It reminds me of something else. I just don't know what yet. Something to do with families in crisis? Black soot-marks like the memory of crisis. Memories now abandoned and quiet.

I'm in Virginia until Wednesday. Then I catch a train for Connecticut.

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