chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

found poem: the face

found poem: water

found poem: Follow

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is, appropriately, full of sober remembrances to mark the challenges and sacrifices of military service. But as we honor those who served, it’s cheering to also remember that soldiering is a time of enormous camaraderie and, often, great good humor. In light of that, I offer this little treasure — a “Commendation and Recommendation for Soldier’s medal of the Soldier’s Cross of the Knight’s Cross, 2d Class (with palms and two oak leaf clusters)” — bestowed upon my father, Capt. Kleinberg, by his commanding officer, Col. Kaiser, in 1943.

Commendation

San Diego, 1970

1970 - DAK San DiegoMy father unseen, on a balcony perhaps, raises the camera to include the duck drifting out of the frame, and my mother, on the dock below, who has been enjoying the lily pads near her feet. At his request, she has taken off her hat, which is in her lap, and her sunglasses, which dangle from her left hand. She smiles, starts to turn toward his voice, and he catches her with her eyes closed.

There’s room for him on the seat and maybe he’ll join her, or maybe she’ll pick up a pad and sketch a bit. They’ll go for a walk. They’ll stroll up and down the docks looking at the boats, which my father loves, although he’s never owned a boat and never spent much time on the water.

They’ll eat lunch at a place with a view of the bay and go to the zoo, where he’ll take photos of a zebra and a hippo. They’ll go back to their room and read a little, and nap, and then have a glass of wine on their balcony overlooking the water, and then go to dinner, and then walk wherever it is people walk on these warm summer evenings.

Maybe they talk about the space race, the war in Vietnam, the recent invasion of Cambodia or the four students killed at Kent State. Maybe not. Maybe they speculate about the lives of people around them or comment on the play of color on the water.

Maybe none of this happens except the duck and the dock and the zebra and the hippo, which I know because of the photos — the tenuous armature of a story that can be told in so many ways.

found poem: Shadows

found poem: contemplate

found poem: to paint

found poem: the page

found poem: THE SPECIFICITY

found poem: ALONG

found poem: From

found poem: air

found poem: spiral

found poem: rolling

found poem: before

found poem: learning

Mother’s Day

first Mother's Day jik-DAKIt’s my first Mother’s Day. I’m three months old; my mother is 37. Neither of us look entirely certain about the arrangement.

In my baby book, Dorothy has already noted that I “grew high and wide from the beginning,” that I was “unusually greedy for food” and that by the time this photo was taken, she had already added cereal to my formula because I “was always hungry.” Though it’s hard to know what she might have imagined about motherhood, this was more than she had bargained for.

It took her a long time to realize that neither she, nor I, could go back. The clock would not be unwound; her carefree life could not be recaptured.

Her hope for that miracle persisted, but, to her enormous credit, she became Mommy. If her enthusiasm for the role was limited, my father and Dr. Spock offered balance and direction. I thrived, grew high and wide, and learned to tread lightly.

I’m grateful — for all she did right and all the many, many things she could have, but didn’t, do wrong. Still, I wish that somehow she could have had the life and happiness she wanted.

found poem: Today

rewrite

1940s Dorothy in foxIt’s impossible to know if Dorothy was posing and happened to be caught mid-blink or if she was resting, eyes closed. She’s in her 30s, at the height of her glamour, and her expression shows contentment and the pleasure of knowing she is admired. I imagine her dressing with great care and attention, putting on bracelet, high heels, lipstick and jacket in readiness for some celebration.

The Doberman is unfamiliar; I never heard Dorothy mention the dog, though it appears in several photos from this period. Perhaps it belongs to the person who has been tending the grass and the potted plants. Or the person who is taking the photo.

The picture isn’t perfect. My grandmother’s shadow hovers in the foreground, where it would remain, literally or figuratively, for the rest of my mother’s life. And someone has thoughtlessly left a sack of cow manure next to the garage.

But we can fix that. Tell the story any way we want. My mother did. Airbrushed the scars from her story. She might have preferred it this way:
1940s Dorothy in fox, version 2By the time she was my mother, Dorothy had abandoned, with lingering regret, the glamorous life she had known. She inhabited her new persona: artist, wife, intellectual. (Mother.) The fox jacket (previously mentioned here and here) was permanently abandoned to the closet.

She never sat in the sun though she was always cold, longing for the warmth of a forbidden love, for the heat of admiration.

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