Looking at Squirrels

Summer time with Kookaburra by Akuokuo Vallis

Fell into a sort of reverie — just now — playing with Kookaburra — in the garden — near the lilies — a little to the right.   Right over there.

The blossoms are all gone but the green leaves — those already-yellowing-green-leaves — are still here.

The tips are curled —  a papery brown.

And somehow that fragrance  — like the perfect daydream, to me — still lingers — quietly — in the air.

Lovely and all consuming — it’s more than a feeling.

It’s a knowing.

An innocence — that takes me somewhere

and nowhere

yet here.


Pear Shaped Moon

Pear Shaped Moon by Akuokuo Vallis

Not nearly ready to stand at the ready — with brooms and mouse traps — like my mother and twin sister — I hid —  and watched — mostly — from under the couch.

My mother had on her heaviest winter coat — in the middle of summer — and yellow rubber kitchen gloves —  sopping wet.

My twin sister looked spacey — like an alien — with that old wicker basket — covering her head — strategically secured with duct tape.  My duct tape.  That’s my neon blue duct tape!

I could hardly barely speak with those two scarves wrapped around my neck — squeezed so tight — under the couch — in the living room — hands full of garlic — like grenades, I thought.

Mosquitoes here are always bad — snakes are worse — but that hellafied summer — we had bats.  Tons of bats.  Millions of bats.  A house full of bats — it seemed.

Actually —  it was just  three.

And I named them Ding, Ling and Shirley.


Sun Salutations

anotehr mask by Akuokuo Vallis


Used to get boxes of lemons— from Uncle Billy — my father’s older brother— in Arizona.

He had lemon trees — lots of them.

Uncle Billy had lots of ideas too.  Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.  He was a talker.

He called weekly to tell us What’s What.

NO, you DO NOT need to know HOW  I  know.  All you need to know is your whole house is bugged. Outside too.  Street lights and gas meters!  HELLO. Once THAT rain starts falling, forget it.  And DO NOT be fooled by horse milk. Get camel milk.  Gotta get a good freezer, though.  One that  runs on H2O.  Next time, remind me to talk about Mars. And chickens! These plastic chickens.  Man boobs ain’t just from soy.  I can promise you that!  


Almost Nearly Full

almost full mon by Akuokuo Vallis

Super obsessed with Julia Child — I played make believe with a whisk and an empty bowl — watching PBS reruns and  snacking — big time — on Doritos —  after school.

Glimpsing forward — fast into the future —  it seems —  and suddenly there we were — front and center — like two Siamese cats, the instructor said — taking a real French cooking class — complete with bright white aprons and checkered pants.

Flush faced from talking to spoons — way too much tasting and re-tasting — my twin sister was supposed to be making a Grand Marnier Soufflé.   Instead she found the elixir of life.

Who knew cooking could be this fun!

Then she sprinkled imaginary pixie dust — purple and pretty, pretty, pretty —  over her head.


In the Margins

Delicate by Akuokuo Vallis

Dreamt about Aunt Frankie last night. Only— she was thinner— in the dream— in a room with delicate curtains—and the windows were open.

Aunt Frankie—my mother’s sister— was a very, very, very large woman — seems impolite to call her fat.  Obese.

My sisters and I briefly stayed with her—once—only once—one summer.  We were supposed to stay longer — but Aunt Frankie was different.  A crocodile, really.  We weren’t used to different — like that.

She cooked well.  Really well.  But, never sat at the table with us.  Not ever.  Not even for dinner.  She preferred that chair — in the corner — sipping from her jumbo-size plastic glass— of juice — that’s what she called it— juice — watching us and commenting— from afar.

I was skinny once, Aunt Frankie said.  Sounded like a threat.  Maybe it was just a warning.

Made me nervous, though—especially when I stepped on the scale—each night.


And There Was Light

Happy Birthday 7-8-17 2

Completely forgot to make a wish —  last week — so wrapped up in names and cakes from  the past.

There were two cakes for our birthday — back then — when we were Baby A and Baby B. Our mother’s cake was like a fairy tale —  strawberries and cream — soft and sweet. Our father’s cake was a lullaby — with pretty pink roses piped all along the edges.

Crying, crawling, stumbling, falling — making a mess out of  dinner — I remember when we ate in the kitchen sink.

Wore Baby A and Baby B bracelets  —  forever, it seems — only because our mom did not like those names — Akwelle and Akuokuo — names meaning first and second born female twins — names our dad chose — thanks to Charles — their Ghanaian friend.

Would have been Romulus and Remus — the founders of Romehad we been boys  — names our father loved — names our mother — did not.   


Somewhere Over the Rainbow

grandparents by Akuokuo Vallis

Bombs bursting in air — that’s what I see  —  that’s what I  hear— when my mom talks about her parents.  Seven children in ten years is a lot.  It wasn’t their fault.  But, it must have been too much for her.  For them.  Would be for me.

My grandmother looked vacant —  after that.

But — in those pictures — in that box— the one in the back closet — upstairs — she looked happy — once upon a time.  The two of them looked happy —  together — at first.  But, 7 children in 10 years is a whole lot.

And my grandfather was never alone when he drank — every night  —  around the corner.

Of course, she was tired of it — my grandmother.  I’d be tired too.  Might even say something — might even do something— not so nice.  But not in front of the children  —  I’d hope.

That wound  is hard to heal, says my mother.

Leaves a stain.


Little Big Boy

Laddie at 6 months by Akuokuo Vallis

Watching the mail lady throw a package — onto the neighbor’s porch —  from her truck— some 30 feet away.   Fragile, it said.

Sounds like a new ringtone on my older sister’s phone.

Doggy day care  calling about Laddie — her 6 month old puppy —  Laddie.

Laddie can no longer be in the play group with Emma, Valentina or Abigail, the voice said.  And — Paula The Great’s mom just called.  Laddie is forbidden to be in the same room as Paula The Great.  Also — we’ve removed all the striped pillows from the doggy disco — the plain ones are fine — Laddie doesn’t go anywhere near the plain ones.

Downloaded the puppy-cam app  —  wanted to see for myself.

Oh no — Laddie!

My sister’s phone rang — doggy day care — again.

Just so you know — you’ll  be getting a call from one of  Prince Michael’s dads.  


Here Since Yesterday

eggy by Akuokuo Vallis

Would get up at 4:00 a.m. to avoid the morning rush.

You think you’re so grown up — but this is wrong!   I protested.

Pounding my fists in the air — pleading — preaching — meaningless nothingness to a bunch of boys — mostly — who just did not care, really. My twin sister said I looked like an aerobics instructor.  We were roommates and outvoted  — completely.

Co-ed bathrooms made no sense.  The never-been-renovated shower room was built for 20 — at least.  And that daily lineup at the urinals was just —  unpleasant.

Freshman year — in the Quad — at Brown — was  miserable.

Stopped by an ashram in Taos, New Mexico— only briefly, I figured.  Had heard about their chai  — blessed by a holy man — sitting ‘neath a sacred tree.  Think I saw him in the garden.  He looked happy.  Kind.

The bathroom looked like a dressing room with super long pieces of cloth dividing the stalls. Definitely different.  Quiet.  Intimate.

Hardly even noticed those Teva-wearing-caveman-feet clomp-clomp-clomping  into the stall next to mine.