All the Things I Kept

by Abigail Rudibaugh

It’s cumbersome the load
that can fit into one week.
The hourly planner connects
all the dots for my week
of appointments, deadlines,
emails, bills, chores, and meals.

I could go on.

So Sunday night I put on armor
of lists, routines, and tidy things.

The beat begins again on Monday
and I hop every note to the song
in heavy boots double knotted.

This morning I am jumping
through a slow crescendo
after small talk with a barista.
I turn the car back on with
aspirations of familiar notes when
I see alerts that my oil is too low.

I could tell you all the reasons
the dashboard lights are urgent.
I can’t tell you how I’m suppose
to now incorporate new music.

Find me the algorithm that proves
the load that fits into one day
is heavier than a week and
I’ll tell you thanks for
the definition of anxiety.

Make sure you include
how music turns to math,
but only the kind that holds
scenarios, the kind whose
energy is needed to prevent
the bad, to keep the good,
to pray away deepest fear.
That energy is gone by breakfast.

I’m embarrassed already so
please keep your eyes from rolling
as we sit down to a dinner of leftovers.

When you ask, “How was your day?”
Could I instead tell you all the things
I kept from stealing it? Let’s start
with how the car did not break down
because I replaced the oil.
@letsescapril prompt 3 on “anxiety” #escapril2019

Strong Like the Tulips

((For my daughters
and all the daughters
to know they are
the tulips for this Spring
and the hundreds following.
And we are here—
there will be others—
undoubtedly marveling.))

Tulips can push themselves
through barely thawed ground
without growing claws
without wearing armor
without the till to soften
and fluff their bed.

Their bodies detailed paper
with perfect posture
even with their load
all on top their shoulders.

I like to think they enjoy
us marveling at how
they lead the season,
marveling at how
they trust their instinct,
marveling at how
much we forget we need them,
as they smile in blooms
and grow in bounty.

Have You Ever Seen Anything Like It?

by Abigail Rudibaugh

In 5th grade Art class
our new project was
to make clay food.
The teacher asked
it to be life-like.

But at home I saw
a pile of clay berries
shiny and perfect
sitting on the sill
above the sink.

So I decided to make
a giant strawberry—
different than all the rest—
as a surprise gift
to the collection.

I didn’t know the teacher
would use me as an example
of what not to do
for years after, asking,
“Have you ever seen
a strawberry this size?”
I didn’t know 5th grade
would give me the lowest
grade I’d ever get in Art.

I didn’t know how embarrassed
I’d feel for taking a risk
and smiling proud as I turned
my project into the kiln
thinking how creative I had been.

And I didn’t know how long
my mom would keep
that giant strawberry on the sill
proud and asking, “Have you
ever seen anything like it?”

“On Being Heard” Musing

by Abigail Rudibaugh

I believe there are a million ways to send a bouquet of flowers.

Daffodils can be sent just by finding someone’s eyes as they talk.

Sunflowers can be sent by smiling.

Roses, perhaps, when you take time to hear a humble opinion.

A dozen roses when you implement it.

I could go on and that’s the beauty of love and flowers. There’s an abundance always and it doesn’t take much effort to give them. May we chose to be gracious in giving today.

Letting Go

by Abigail Rudibaugh

I stood in disbelief
at the painted blue tea cups
shattered on the pavement,
now only steeping
my sudden, unexpected tears.

I had plans for these
consigned china treasures
to be divine reminders
to rest even in the heaps
of moving mess.

We had just put our whole
life into straight-edge boxes
and tiptoed to the orchestrated:
“That’s fragile!
Watch your step.”
Now further up the river,
I’m in a store parking lot
trying to pick up pieces
of shattered glass
I only owned for five minutes.

It’s true, I’ve kept so much
from falling.  I held tight
our boxed possessions like
I held our dear friends
as we said our goodbyes.

We stored up a lot of life
lived on those familiar roads.
But it’s not until the brand
new-to-me mugs fall,
I see they’re no longer mine to hold.

A Brief Moment That Mattered

By Abigail Rudibaugh

Fresh language revives me
better than a hot cup of coffee.
Its fingers motioning secret access
to another world only lasting
another moment, while I break
the magnetic pull of my warm
layered bed of cotton soft
in curiosity as my daughter
declares, “The sunrise is waking
us up with all its colors.”
With the blinds closed
she must have seen it
seeping through the front door’s
glass on her way down the stairs.
I heard her feet pause—
before coming to get us,
before settling down on the couch
waiting for us to pull the curtain open,
before asking if she could guess
the names of the shades in the sky—
awe gave her a moment of true worship.

February 14th, 2019

by Abigail Rudibaugh

I don’t need dinner with steak,
more pearls to keep tucked away,
or a dozen red roses to know I’m loved.

Who decided on twelve anyway?
Why not a bundle of seven
to make it interesting
so I can ask what it means,
and you can say, “because I love you
all seven days of each week.”
Or how about a rose
for the number of times
you had to reach for my hand
just yesterday to reassure
me in my whirling
you are my safe place.

This morning there isn’t pressure
besides the tea party we throw
for our girls this breakfast.
You refill my coffee,
clear the dishes, and then
read our daughters’ valentines
while I write this love poem 
you don’t even know about yet.

I don’t need all the fancy
in all its bright loud lights
to scream what I hear in
calm whispers all morning.
This comfort we made
is loving me just right.

Awake and Dreaming

by Abigail Rudibaugh

My daughter creeps downstairs
without creaking a single board.
She knew it was way past bedtime.
Opening my door, I see her,
get out of my own bed to meet her,
and take her back upstairs.

But instead of her hand reaching
for mine, my outstretched hand
grabs her decorated paper.
“Mom, I made this for you!”
speaks out of a full smile shared
with both her lips and blue eyes.

The paper holds an ice cream cone
colored a bright rainbow flavor.
She must have turned the light on
(after I switched it off) and went
to work coloring at her table.

How could I be mad
with marker all over her hand
and an hour of missed sleep?
I’m holding her dreams
she still knows she can achieve
right on this colorful sheet.

“Let’s Talk about the Weather” Musing

by Abigail Rudibaugh

If you’re new here, hi and welcome! Usually after I post a poem, I write a little musing about it, in hopes of starting a coffee shop conversation in this little corner of the internet. So finish your coffee and pull up a chair. Here are some thoughts on yesterday’s poem, “Let’s Talk about the Weather” that was not about the weather and all about the impact of hate.

It’s so much easier to talk about how much we hate the cold (it is preeeetty cold!), but what makes it so much harder to talk about the coldness of hate?

What I do know is this: it snowballs. The snow storm starts in flurries… Aggravated driving because someone is driving too slow, so we give in to rage having its say. Impatient complaints bubble to the surface when the service is too slow. We let ourselves go down the spirals of “Why would she say that?” to each other, and not to her, spotlighting her ignorance, and our glorious rightness.

Maybe, maybe, we could wait for the answer next time, from the person who said it. Maybe take them out for tacos and hear where they’re coming from. Maybe they’ll ask how it sounded to us, too. We could still disagree, but maybe we’d still enjoy the company.

Honestly? I’m guilty of all this. But I’m determined to watch for the temperature dropping in my own heart, and apologizing when it does. There’s a lot of beauty waiting for us when we say out loud where we were wrong and in our humility, commit to do better next time.

I am pretty sure love and empathy and a huge warm front live right there. ❤️