Messy Rooms

“What a cute little girl,” she says wishing that she could somehow lay claim to the tiny five-year old child with big brown eyes and long brown hair.

“Hi!” says the five year old with a smile from ear to ear as she leans into her admirer to give a kiss.

“What a precious child, look at how sweet you are. Where is your mommy? Who do you belong to?”

I try to ignore the fact that my grandmother no longer remembers my daughter. I try to brush this reality aside long enough to kiss my grandmother on the forehead and brace myself in case today is the day she has forgotten me as well.

“Grandma,” I say softly in her ear as I embrace her hand with my palm, “I am her mother. Remember, Shayne? She is mine.”

My grandmother slowly turns her head towards me trying to understand. “Oh,” she says, “She is yours?”

Sitting in her wheelchair by the receptionist desk of the nursing home along with three other women who hold a similar glassy-eyed appearance, captured by memories lost and muddled in their mind, I feel the distance between her and the moments that exist among us. Shayne knows something is out of place as she repeatedly taps her fingers together and looks my way.

“Why can’t Grandma remember stuff anymore? Is she dying?”

I close my eyes to hold still my heart, carefully explaining to my daughter that Grandma has misplaced her memories; it is like a messy room. It takes a while to find stuff, to figure out where things go, and sometimes things are permanently misplaced somewhere in her mind. Shayne smiled. She understood all about misplaced items in a messy room.

We wheeled my grandmother to the living room, and sat on one of the couches next to her. “This is no way to live, ” Grandma says as she plays with the fringes of her apron. I can see the sadness creep into the corners of her mouth. “If no one in the family is willing to get me out of here, I swear one day soon I will wheel myself out of this place, and fling myself into a ditch. Let’s just get this over with.” She looks towards the glass doors into the distance.

Smiling gently I hold her hand, “So you are gonna’ fling yourself into a ditch, huh?” Her instinct like muscle memory kicks in and our years of quirky humor and banter are quickly reestablished.

She looks at me from the corner of her eyes and creases her lips into a familiar and playful grin. “Guess, I shouldn’t say that too loudly, huh? It is bad enough everyone thinks I am crazy.”

“Are you?” I quickly ask.

With great confidence she nods and says, “Yes.”

I giggle. Her eyes brighten. We had successfully changed the mood hovering over her thoughts.

“Where is your mother?”

“She is on her way.”

“Humph. She barely stays long enough to say hello. And if she does stay, it is because she starts socializing with the other visitors here. She is always busy with those people from church. I told her she should just get a cot and move into the church building.” My grandmother may have forgotten many experiences, but she clung to those toxic memories that fueled her resentment towards my mom.

“La Doña,” as my grandmother renamed my mother. La Doña, the person in charge, the person over you, the person above you, my mother represents all the control my grandmother no longer has. So, it is no surprise that when my mom enters the nursing home the, “fling me in a ditch” feeling settles back into Grandma’s thoughts. Immediately, the tension spreads throughout our visit like a disease. My grandmother’s countenance is now one of anger and frustration.

“Hi, mom!” My mom tells Grandma as she leans in to give her 89 year old mother a kiss. My grandmother does not reply; instead, she looks my way to seek confirmation that her frustration towards my mom is justified.

Like a child, my grandmother starts acting up. She begins using bad words as she describes the miserable existence she now lives. She revisits, for my mom’s benefit, the scheme to throw herself in a ditch. My mother sighs and gives her mom a condescending “okay” as she tries to smile and pretend that my grandmother is not sitting in the middle of this facility using various expletives to drive home the point that she is miserable here.

“I don’t want to be here. I can’t find my clothes, and look at these shoes. Someone came into my room and took all of my stuff. All I can find are these itty bitty pieces of clothing that clearly aren’t mine.”

“Mother,” my mom quickly responds, “I have been washing your clothes for you and putting them back in your closet. All of your clothes are in your room.”

“No! They are not! I am the one who stays here, and I am telling you that clothes are gone! Gone, I say.” I get another glimpse from both my mom and grandmother this time. Both carrying the same expression of frustration, they simultaneously roll their eyes.

“Mother, do you want me to show you where your clothes are?”

“Always. But you never take the time to show me.”

My mother exasperated now, “This will be the third time that we have this conversation, and the third time I show you where your belongings are. Remember, I told you that the drawer farthest to the left belongs to the lady who rooms with you?”

“No. You have never told me this. Never.” My grandmother and mother are both visibly upset, neither willing to bend toward the other.

Shayne and I decide it is time to leave. We kiss them on the cheek and walk towards the glass doors. As I help Shayne into her car seat, I kiss her tiny face and hug her tightly. Shayne’s arms wrap around my neck, and her fingers entangle themselves in my hair. A cool Sunday afternoon breeze wraps around our embraced frames, and I pray that my mother and my grandmother remember where they last placed each other.

© 2009 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved

A Woodland Marsh in Nova Scotia

A bystander recorded today
a woodland marsh
uplifting the roots of its trees
breaking apart sheets of grass
into patches as the ground swelled.

The earth let out a breath
filling its core with air
releasing the land back to its floor.

Perhaps, it does
—the ground—
perhaps, it breathes.

This planet of ours, Mother Earth,
we have encased her
in a corset of cement

cinched her waist with bridges
buried in her chest tanks of gasoline
pulled from her bones gallons of oil
poisoned her lungs with chemicals

burned on her face acids and toxins
smothered her beauty with billboards
plunged into her wrists rods of artificial light.

Perhaps, it does
—the ground—
perhaps, it breathes.

Struggling for her next breath
as we bomb and break her spine.
We continue to take turns leaving our mark
until the day she finally lays still.

© 2016 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved


Note: Poem is named after a song by Ludovico Einaudi.

Late this evening
I saw light and dark shadows
flicker in and out of clarity
through my bedroom window
creating silhouettes
of disfigured phantoms
and dancing figures.

The earth rumbled
of things yet to come.
Slowly, softly, swiftly,
the rain fell.

The droplets continued
one by one as the spheres fell
the thunder soared and died
then soared again
creating a dissonance
of sound and rhythm.

The last wave of light and sound built to a crescendo
of rage blanketing lighted houses with darkness.

Lighting candles one room to the next,
I am haunted by memories of the last storm.

I had been at the piano when the sounds came.
As I hit each note, the rain unraveled.

A simple drizzle:
a sprinkle of heaven’s blessing
to barren soil.
I was excited to hear
the inclement weather
as I had not seen
rain visit in months.

But the earth rumbled
of things yet to come.
Slowly, softly, swiftly,
the rain fell.

The thunder bold and brash seemed out of control
the lightening that followed was determined to cast fire
to the whole earth.

The metronome kept pace as the cacophony
of wind and rain and thunder and lightening
crashed into my chest.

Raining once again,
a scent of asphalt and soil
fill the atmosphere
darkened clouds of a muddy gray
embellish the midnight sky
an adornment of rage and tranquility
cover the earth like a veil.

© 2016 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved


Through an open window,
the notes flutter in;
they move about the room
discussing the refrain and
all that is yet to come.

Sitting in a cup of tea,
her hair pinned in a loose bun,
she is stitched in moments of
what could have been and
what should be.

Memories unraveling
as she pulls on patterns.
Sewing recollections back together,
such toil leaves her with pricked thumbs.

A quilted patchwork of
what seems upon what is.
Mismatched fabric and
unfortunate realizations of
tangled thread so late in the day —

she worries her masterpiece
will never be complete.
How she had hoped it
all would come together
just so.

An assortment of fabric
sits beside her:
an eternal collection.
Her thumb bleeds;
the thimble drowns.

As the music dies,
the corners of her mouth
form a perfect smile.

© 2016 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved

Lucky Girl

He wears a shirt that says,
Chicks hate me.
One by one,
they flock his way —
each perching, fluttering,
strutting for his attention.

He stands aloof.
His head cocked back,
watching with a smirk,
and perfectly tousled hair —
as they scrape and claw
vying to be the lucky girl
chosen to try to change him.

© 2016 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved

Into the Wilderness I Walk

Worn paths of twigs and asphalt
One step then another
Dirt settles beneath my feet
Rock and stone ––
Reminders of my frailty

Waters flow through me
Gliding down my limbs
Streams caress my skin
Transparent spheres of water
Trickle down my fingertips
Refracting rays of light

In these earthy places of my soul
My spirit inhales deeply
An awareness of our place in this world
Gratitude resonates within me

Lulled to sleep by a starry night
Sights of fireflies flashing, flickering
Flying in swirls each to each
Culled awake by a new horizon
Sounds of birds chirping, chiming,
Perching from limb to limb

Finding solace in light blue skies
A breeze flutters to the ends of my hair
An aroma of mesquite and a pit set ablaze
As dancing embers twinkle in the distance

© 2016 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved

The Seer

A blue-grey day,
semi-soaked leaves whisper
chaotic sounds in the wind.
As I look toward the seer
my husband says, “Go.”
He takes me by the hand;
I find myself standing before the
younger one.
I give her my soul and twenty-five dollars.
For this, she tells me
I am lost and empty.
That God does not dwell in me anymore.

© 2015 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved.