Bio Note: I didn’t get started writing memoir poems until fairly late in life. Now it seems I can’t stop. I thank the Mojave Desert for giving me plenty to write about until I was ready for memoir. My new book, The Missing Peace, is just out from Velvet Dusk Publishing and available at amazon.com
In junior high, my biology and English teachers are courting. They pass notes back and forth during classes, using students as couriers. Mr. F. is ethnic, stocky, dark, and swarthy— a sexy beast stalking the corridors—and Miss S., raven-haired, rail-thin, has the biggest boobs I’ve ever seen. Their passion permeates the building— a long, brick box with beige linoleum and tan lockers, holding pen for teens and their wardens. I’m often chosen to carry their notes—maybe because I sit in front, due to alphabetical order, or maybe because I’m trustworthy. I could easily unfold the paper and peek, but I don’t—though I’m tempted, hesitating in the stairwell. At the classroom door, I knock and enter, walk straight to the teacher’s desk. Everyone knows what’s up. The lesson stops, and the kids titter while the secret message is devoured. Sometimes a reply is scrawled and passed back, other times I’m dismissed with a wave. I feel sorry when it’s a wave. We’re all rooting for them.
My Mother’s Match
A handyman at assisted living finally fixed her TV. Now she’s glued to it, watching the Australian Open— a ritual that jogs her memory. In the 60s, Down Under broadcast a call for teachers and professionals to emigrate. She tried to convince my father. “It was a no go,” she says. “There was no GO!” I know this story by rote. Usually, it ends in blame and bitterness—today, she’s feeling magnanimous. “We didn’t have that adventure. But there were others.” My dad hated travel, turned desert hermit, let her fend for herself. Since his death, she’s prone to seismic reversals. And her day gets better— Federer’s a contender. A strange peace descends when I press End Call. Somehow, for the first time, I know I’ll be all right.
My Martial Art
Driving at dark after tai chi class, I make a California stop on the deserted road— when a police car, lying in wait behind the oleanders, nabs me as I make a left turn. You blazed right through that stop sign! You didn’t stop at all! That’s not quite true— I slowed almost to a stop—but I hold my tongue. Where are you coming from? Where are you going? Home, I say. I was at the retreat center doing tai chi. WHAT? Tai chi. He’s never heard of it. He keeps asking and I keep saying. Finally I blurt, TAI CHI. It’s a martial art! He shuts up, stares long and hard, then lets me go—no ticket, no warning. I’m a clumsy practitioner at best, but that moment of victory was sweet.
©2021 Cynthia Anderson
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