in his eyes she saw
love neverending but he
was not seeing her
memories old held
him fastly, no room for her
she begrudged his choice
his first wife was his
first life no forgetting her
second life slow death
this is how love goes
sometimes you love and sometimes
someone loves you back
(c) Janni Styles
Oh, don’t worry, you just have to look apast some things, my mother said, it’s the way it is for all of us.
This was my mother’s take on love. You just accept some things that are not so nice in order to enjoy all the nice things you like in a person. She might have done that with Dad but I don’t think so. I think she and Dad were perfect for each other, building a life in the country side together and raising us four kids. For all her country lingo, Mom was a wise woman but she wasn’t marrying George. I was.
George with his already Curly of the Three Stooges hair ring boasting a shiny top suitable, in my opinion, only for smacking when he did his burping and farting routines. How can a man who became a millionaire in business command so much public respect and still be so crass at home in private? I think I forget sometimes that manners are not necessarily synonymous with wealth.
Look, Mom said, you will never want for anything and you’ll always be able to do things none of us could ever afford to do like go to Hawaii.
It was my mother’s dream to go to Hawaii but she never did make it there, her life was snuffed out by that evil cancer that is all too prevalent in a modern world where you can fly to the moon but not cure people of that rotten C word. Of course, her death came much later, decades after we sat in what used to be my bedroom at home where we were preparing me for my wedding. The room was filled with a heady fragrance from the huge bouquet George had sent that morning. It was almost cloying and I considered dumping them out the window but I knew I had to sit still for Mom to finish my hair. I could have gone to a salon but I wanted my wedding day to be filled with fond memories of the people I love and I liked the simplicity of plaits and a few flowers in my hair.
I do love him in some way, I said, but I just don’t know if it’s the kind of love that means I can do “life” with this guy, Mom. He’s grown twice as wide just in the three years we’ve been together and the way he talks sometimes I get so embarrassed I want to crawl under something and hide or run out of wherever we are as if I am not even with him.
Mom’s age freckled hands continued patiently braiding my long hair and plaiting it around my head just the same way she did for me when I was little getting ready for school. It tore at me to be here now in this comforting space sitting on my floral comforter with such a highly publicized wedding in front of me. In just two hours I would be Mrs. George Hanson. No, Mrs. Loretta Hanson. Or would I?
Loretta, Mom said, as she pinned the plaits in place, Nobody gets everything they want in this world. Nobody. You just weigh up the good and as your own Granny said to me when I had the wedding night jitters, some of us just learn to “make do.” That’s how life is. You just learn to make do.
She finished my hair and then looked in the mirror to pat her salon do she’d had done that morning. People always said Mom was Shirley Maclaine’s twin and that might be true but all I could see in the mirror as I looked over her shoulder was my loving Mom trying to do her best to support me and guide me.
I told her I was driving myself to the seaside instead of taking the limousine to the church. Mom accepted what I was doing and gave me a hug as I grabbed my keys and left my childhood home. She even said she admired my pluck and wished she’d had some of it herself sometimes. Even Mom understood there are some things in life you simply cannot make do with or “look apast.”
I phoned the church and told them to go ahead and have the party anyway but to celebrate freedom, not “making do.” George would find a new wife no trouble with all that money I couldn’t sell myself out for. I took my sandals off and walked out into the shimmering ocean under the stars with my wedding gown floating up all around me like a cloud that held up my dreams and my dreams of how I wanted my life to be began drifting back to me one by one.
Short story excerpt by (c) Janni Styles
Dreamer everyone called her
Always passing real life by
She thought herself fitting in fine
Until she saw fit to reply
“I can’t really love anyone
I was born tethered to the sky.”
(c) Janni Styles
leaning into the wind
one lone and life worn tree
leaves fallen all around
shivering cold no warmth to be
spring arrives sudden
some sun on the rise
tears falling as raindrops
cease in some sore eyes
summer leads us all to shore
to river, sea or brook
warmed minds forgetting
all life cruelly took
autumn falls with chilled air
we long for summers past
raking up old memories
in the face of wintry blasts
again and again we relive
the leaves dancing in our heads
one leaf atop another
our books of life longing
demanding to be reread
reminding us of loves eternal
why do we humans so grieve
our people are ever in our hearts
and never do they leave.
(c) Janni Styles
taking in the sheets today the fresh air held me fast
I was in kitchens of my childood my mother standing there
her cold reddenened hands at work hanging and folding
our laundry from the line in cold Ontario air
for just a few minutes tonight I forgot where I was
pressing my face into fresh washed sheets
all I could think of was my mother
and precious fresh sheets sleeps
as I unraveled the tangled laundry
and hung the damp bedding up to dry
I had a little visit with my mother
and did my best not to cry
(it didn’t work)
(c) Janni Styles
When people say “this”
and then “that” they go do
how do we know if they
really mean “I love you?”
Will one morn the words become
“I didn’t really mean that either?”
and wobble you to the core
do you stay for more “word skiver?”
Do you run for the hills
or stay for more?
Do you chance taking a chance on
making your own heart more sore?
Unwelcome jolts or unkind events
people no longer who you would often defend
do you start again, how do you mend the rents?
or do you sit contemplating on the fence?
If word is so easily broken
it could happen to me too
nothing is certain, everything can upend
in just a second or two.
One foot ahead of the other I go
trying to find balance in undeserved change
walking ’til I find my peaceful heart again
Now that my love has been rearranged.
(C) Janni Styles