Angel of Mercy see me standing in the kitchen cutting carrots or grating cheese. It is five o’clock, five thirty perhaps, my sons come and sit on the bar stools. They ask what is for dinner, one tells me he doesn’t like onions which lie waiting in line for my knife, the other asks when I will make enchiladas, clearly not on the menu tonight. They begin to debate which football team is best, a sparring that deteriorates to “Stupid” and “Mommmmm!” until one pushes the other off his stool. Do you see, Sister of Beatitude, how the black granite counter becomes a chopping block? Here in this space, this triangle of spigot and basin, metal box which holds ice and cold milk, this stove top, which hisses fire, I will destroy everything I believe in—patience, healing, love. I mince. I pulverize. I meet my children, ages ten and twelve, as wounded children as they are. The other day I called the youngest “asshole.”

Goddess of Grace, notice, as the hour grows late and I pick up my cell phone, checking the messages to see if my lover has texted. The queries I have posted, green bubbles on my iPhone gather like depositions, bitter proofs that I am the better partner. Watch when his blue cartoon response, “So sorry baby! I didn’t know you’d be waiting up!” fails to move me. The next day he will light a fire hoping to make love and instead of opening to his arms and the healing heat, I will turn toward the door in protest. I told him I was crazy to be with him.

Yet today, a thousand miles away from those I love, here in the foothills of California, I will miss my curly brown-headed sons. I will see a hot air balloon rise and imagine a trip next summer, somehow I will get us all back here to float above vineyards. I want to see their faces as the gas is turned on, want to know what whoooosh looks like reflected in their eyes. I will call my lover and tell him I am the luckiest girl alive and imagine our reunion at the airport where I will make him stand still as I inhale the scent of his hair, his neck, his mouth. 

Today, under the broad brush strokes of turkey vulture, I ran up windswept hills. At the top of the rise the oaks’ trunks are so short, the limbs almost lay on the ground, like hands forming a cat’s cradles. I slipped on the slippery oak leaves and ended up on my butt among them. Look! they resounded, how grounded you sometimes have to become. 

I am asking for this now, Princes of Peace, a generosity of heart. I want to be able to say it is human to hurt those we love, that it is the pinch of salt in the chicken soup that brings out the flavor, but Angels, Oaks, that is not true. It is rat poison forms only a noxious broth. I want to be able to say I need only show kindness first to myself, but you know I know better. 

I sit now on a cushion, twenty minutes a day, sometimes through headphones, I listen to the sound of rain. I gaze at my dresser, on a makeshift shrine there is a candle my son bought at the dollar store and gave me for Easter, a card for Valentine’s Day from my lover. I want to take my heart out of my chest and place it before them.