Father Yin, Mother Yang

She slumped back into the chair in the corner of the hospital room. The final beeps and alarms had been shut off, equipment disconnected and either removed or pushed out of the way. All of the doctors and nurses and orderlies and technicians and whatever else they were drifted out of the room to leave her alone with her grief. It had all happened so fast.

First father had passed. His heart unable to keep up with his age. It had been quick, and quiet just like he always was. Mother was another story, noisy, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Oh, and the commandments. There were so many commandments. Pick this up for me. I need that. Make sure the paintings go to your sister. Throw out all the clothes. There’s money hidden in a book by the nightstand I never told your father about. Do this, do that, fix the things left incomplete. So like her mother.

And now there was only silence. Not the silence she shared with Father. His silence was peaceful, at least it used to be. There he was, standing close enough to watch, to help if needed, but far enough away to allow the world to happen as it would, to let her grow up and learn from the consequences of her choices. Later, especially after she moved out, that silence between them extended to the point she often forget it, he, was even there.

Mother, on the other hand, interfered too much, always talking, asking questions, making suggestions, correcting, fixing; in a word: mothering. More like smothering. Nothing was good enough for Mother. Not her choice of schools, apartments, partners, and even spouses. She’d learned to tune out the noise, to push the hurtful guilt-laden words into the background.

Now she was truly alone. They were both gone. It was still too early to know, but she wondered which she would miss the most: the noise or the silence. And which was she to her own children? What now would they miss most about her? Was she noise or silence for them, or both?


Hidden Words

He left secret messages, stupid poetry or lovelorn letters or strings of words that collected into a run-on sentence as long as the Great Wall, and hid these words in places he hoped she would find. He’d visit her neighborhood library and place envelopes with her name on them inside of books. Several times he wrapped the words in zipper sealed sandwich bags which he left tied to a tree like clear leaves. When he checked back to see if she’d found them, hoping she’d take them home to cherish, he discovered the papers had gotten wet and splotches of dark mold obscured his words. Once he collected a manuscript worth of pages and placed them inside a plastic replica pirate treasure chest, dug a hole in the sandbox of the local park and buried them. To help her find the treasure, he created an intricate hand-drawn map and mailed it to her without any markings or return address.

Woman on the Stage

It’s a dark night and the woman on the stage is belting out the blues

Six string guitar cradled on her knee

She’s singing of a love gone wrong

But she’s looking right at me

Collection Day

After he broke into the house, he stood in the living room with a puzzled look on his face. Everything was exactly the way it was a month ago, the last time he’d been there. The same cat figurines on the mantel, the mismatched lampshades, the cinderblock and plywood coffee table, even the velvet Elvis painting they picked out together at the Good Will store. At the time, it was a joke, but it was all they could afford in the way of decorations.


floating, floating, floating
taken by the flow
adrift in a sea of you
buoyed by the salt of your veins
a gentle breeze before the storm
that strikes at dawn
but for now, now is enough
a red ribbon to tie our wrists together
floating, floating, and in the end of flying above the clouds