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.


Other Luminaries

Other Luminaries by akuokuo Vallis

Glad I changed my mind about med. school — still have that thing with blood — makes me disappear — almost  like magic — but not really.

Water is still running in the kitchen sink — just like I left it — just after I stuck my hand into it — trying so, so hard not to see those drops of red.  Shock — had to be.  Must have bumped my head too — because —  this time — it was different.

Not an out of body experience, I don’t think.  More like that place between sleep and waking where you’re not really anywhere  — not even dreaming.  Confusing.  Because I was  just about to pour hot fudge sauce on my lime sherbet — just about to lick the spoon — at Gifford’s — getting ice cream with my dad and sisters.  My dad always got the works.

I loved that about him — I miss that.

I miss him.

The UPS man was carrying a crumpled, opened box — chewing gum, snickering.

Can’t believe you bought a Thigh Master, he said.

Didn’t mean to slam the door — that hard.  A picture fell.

Then there was a deep quiet — worth exploring — but I couldn’t.  My right ear was throbbing. No blood though.  Not sure how that deer got in the dining room.  I stood up — and it turned back into a chair.


Dig in the Soil

plants by Akuokuo Vallis

Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look, my twin sister said

I zoomed in on the latecomer — anyway — and was instantly beamed back — a million years, at least — to recess — on the blacktop — where this girl — with her fingers sticking out of her pants  — chased — no, terrorized — other girls.

I’m a boy, she’d say, beating her chest like Tarzan.

Thought I’d forgotten that.

The Ikebana class started with a brief meditation and prayer.

Then I spent way too much time shuffling, scrambling, searching for the right words to say — because — I really did not know what to say.

Hey, you two!  You look exactly like you did in 5th grade — only taller.  Ha!

Pounding his chest — just like she used to — Jeannette said,  I’m Timothy now — by the way.

I pointed and gestured with my pinkie, You have a noodle in your beard.

Small world, my twin sister said.


Tastes Like Rocky Road

Disconnect by Akuokuo Vallis

Almost late for her Feldenkrais lesson because I felt a nudging, a need to pull over and get a book from a Little Free Library — on the way.

Can’t this wait, my mother said.

I wasn’t even reaching for that book — it just kinda tumbled out and fell onto my feet — upside down and open.

There was a note inside.

I will not let you forget me. 

It was handwritten on a plain piece of paper— nearly ripped in half and really crumpled— like it was meant for the trash can but somehow didn’t get to that trash can — because it found its way to me — instead.

A message from the universe, my mother said — sitting in the car.  Teasing me.

You’ve indeed found me again my love,  I whispered then wrote — on that really crumpled — nearly ripped in half — plain piece of paper — that was now tucked back inside that book– now sitting, waiting on the shelf.  I was giddy about what could happen next.

Too much grinning and thinking — I was a zoo animal — a hyena, probably —  until a little old lady  picked up that book — and put it in her purse.