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Madeleine Toerne Jan 2016
In a library, reading a book and drinking coffee.
On Lake Michigan, after a dune climb
a wade through the cold water, and laying in the sun on my back.
In a lover's bed on a rainy evening.
In a Portland, Oregon vintage shop,
trying on dresses.
In any vintage shop, trying on dresses.
On the dock in my neighbors' pond,
fishing with hot dogs in my bathing suit in the sun.
On my bike, riding on a path that cuts through a meadow.
At the top of the hill, in the forest on a walk,
looking down telephone lines into more plush forest.
Walking on a frozen river with a hiking stick,
smashing it into the ice to check its stability.
Writing something I love with a good pen.
Eating turkey soup, or chili, or green beans in autumn.
Or opening up my window on the first warm day in March, April.
Outside on a back porch in a quiet neighborhood
at dusk, with a friend or two.
In a reliable car driving north,
driving west.
Arriving at a new town, looking out the window.
Cradled between a railroad track and a river.
Stretching, floating, looking up into a canopy.
Madeleine Toerne Dec 2015
The most incredible sight this morning in a clean city:
a young girl like me back then is walking
thirty, forty paces in front of her parents.
Speed walking and rubbing her eyes, like she's been crying.
Her head so graceful and straight upon her neck.
Her parents split up,
dad walks on the sidewalk where I am sitting opposite
this clearly perturbed daughter,
mom behind her daughter.

And perhaps it happened but maybe I imagined the mother
call out to the daughter "slow down" is what she should say
or what she did say. It takes the girl everything she has
all her courage not to turn around

don't turn around I am begging from my seat
across the street. At least try to make it to the crosswalk
at least. It doesn't really matter why she's mad.
I could try to come up with some reason but it makes no real difference.

What's important is that I was holding a memory in a loving embrace.
Madeleine Toerne Dec 2015
The scene the scene
is happening through something empty
sitting outside alone
it is okay I am not the most important person
in the universe
Madeleine Toerne Nov 2015
How come you gave me all your old Bob Marley and the Wailers records, you listened to when you were sixteen and fixing cars, humming "emancipate yourselves from mental slavery?" You grew pillars of brussel sprouts, you got a rain barrel, you used grease to run a 1971 Mercendes Benz, Benzo-Lorenzo, you kept the wood-burning house so cold Mom threatened to take us to the Holiday Inn and make you pay for it.  No matter how much I wanted to go to a hotel (play pretend in my head, little girl-glamor pretend) I would plead with Mom.  We are fine, we are fine. I'll put a sweater on.  See, I was a little sustainable champion. Stoke the fire, it smells so good. I appreciate warm so much. Inside I feel proud, like, my dad prepared me to live in a punk house. God, I wish I could be you watching me when I was a little girl. At Walbridge Park, those little pastel coiled spring animals.  Mulch or little pieces of rubber? I like those little squishy pieces of rubber. I want a boat, a fishing boat.  I taught little kids how to fish this summer.  I kept a straight face, but I was beaming on the inside. Careful, considerate, thank you notes, visiting old ladies, kindness, loss of God, reading the Bible, reading everything, Swedish, cooking chili and pozole.  Where did you learn to cook pozole?  I want to know how but I am afraid to ask.  I don't want a speech, I just want clear cut directions, with love.  Just clear cut directions, with love.
Madeleine Toerne Oct 2015
I read a spanish word and teared up because I knew I was feeling a feeling my mom felt when she was twenty. I mean-- she went to the dominican republic and she studied a foreign language in college. She was curious
and I am curious.
When people show me unexpected kindnesses, it makes me tear up.  
What did I do to deserve this? and then I remember a little bit.  

I wrote down a few notes for a paper:
the setting implies the corruptibility of female bodies.
I walked down the packed streets at night and applied that rough thesis
and it felt sad to be in what Steven calls a world of abstraction
and even now I sound like a liberal-arts university program ***** (I’m not).

I heard and just missed something fall from a tall tree.
I caught the tail end of the leaf debris, and wondered while
I read Ali Smith’s Hotel World, how many squirrels died in freak uppermost tree branch
falling incidents, and if it made a noticeable difference.  

The scene, the scene is happening through temporality and that makes it seem empty
Sitting outside alone it is okay I am not the most important person in the universe

Now I’m working on holding all my adolescent memories in a loving embrace.
My ears also perk up at the sound of little kid voices.
Madeleine Toerne Oct 2015
i am being very disdainful of those people who don’t have to work and can just enjoy their lives like it is no big deal I have put an enormous amount of pressure on myself and I now I am just cracking at the seams..just cracking. i don’t want to get drunk i don’t like it i don’t like being hung over i want to be responsible i want to be able to be around people i don’t want to feel like my experience is not legitimate because everyone gets down sometimes i am quitting my job i can’t make a bunch of apologies because i feel bad i can’t do it anymore..the mail man is delivering mail its ****** up he’s working on the weekends where is my package where is my 100 dollars where is it where is it where is someone who is going to sit in my room and take care of me i want you here i want you gone i want someone here mostly but i am too overwhelmed to admit it it is ****** up i am crying every day i am finding it hard to get close to people i am only twenty i am going to live alone the rest of my life i am setting a precedent for the rest of my life i really don’t want my life to be like this but if i want to work hard i have to not get distracted by all of these...worldly things but being around people makes me feel better it is what i live for..this world is muting me i feel muted and frustrated i can’t relax people are telling me what is meaningful and what is not people are saying it is the system and i believe them but i still want to make meaning for myself **** everyone is having a good time but me where is everyone else how are they getting any work done why is this paper due i want to say something important about norse mythology i promised i would work hard i drank a bunch of coffee and smoked a bunch of cigarettes **** i lied i only smoked one this morning and it gives me confidence makes me feel like i am okay i am okay because i am smoking it is something else to think about i get it thats why it is addicting **** i want to go home i want to go home but home is not the same home here doesnt exist there are maggots growing underneath the dish rack and i don’t want to clean i want someone else to clean for me. i don’t want to find time to talk to someone all of these influences i will feel better in a couple of hours i know i will but right now i just want to slam something glass against a wall
Madeleine Toerne Oct 2015
Sixty dollar insurance i'll pay
for the chance to talk to someone
sixty dollars sixty dollars
take it put it back take it away need to again
sixty dollars I owe you three sets of twenty
one, two, three neat little thin stack I removed
from the Atm from a skinny mouth slit
slot and walked over and smiled and said
I'd like to reinstate my well being fee?
it is sixty dollars it says it's so easy to feel better
what a comfort. Okay sign here, it was so informal
sign here send us an email proving it was you
Shoot well that would be kind of a nice fraud
an anonymous someone paying for the chance
I might not feel well. Okay sounds great thank you
so much I really appreciate it.
Mom says well are you going to go
use it you paid for it might as well use it?
Yeah she's right I don't want to waste
it away or waste money I better find time to fit it in
when I can go I go I will feel much better financially
too if I just go.
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