“Plate Offering”

When I was nine years old, my mother took me to see the lady who lived on the street over from MawMaw.  I knew this lady was rich;  her porch was on 2 sides of the house
and she had stairs. 
Anyone with two stories had money and her house faced another house with bricks and columns. 
Need I say more?

Her pond had lilies and fish.  All her furniture was adorned with hand made dollies and flowers that I later would learn are called cabbage roses. 
I don’t want to leave out the most important part; 
she was an artist.

As a little girl, I wanted to be an artist, but it eluded me. 
My crayons wouldn’t blend, wouldn’t cover the lines,
wouldn’t make transparent “I Dream of Jeanie” pants
or curtains.  I hated my medium!    I hated my skill.

The rich old lady
(I’m sorry to not remember her name, but I was nine!!)
tried to encourage me to be an artist if I so desired. 
She talked about how anything could be an art medium. 
Looking back now, she was quite progressive
for Berry, Alabama in the late 60’s early 70’s. 
She told of how the most ordinary of items could be honed into a master piece of beauty. 
I was inspired!

For the next several weeks my mom saved washed
and cloroxed my newest medium: 
the Styrofoam meat trays
that raw chicken and ground beef
came in from the grocery store. 
Yes the little old lady had recommended
the choice art supply of Vacation Bible Schools,
Sunday Schools and Church Camps
across the US:  Styrofoam.

I attempted to create wonderful works of art
with crayons, pencils, colored pencils,
magic markers and ink pens.
To my frustration, no matter how much I worked,
all my efforts still looked like meat trays. 

So often our sorrows move in with us:
our insecurities hop on our shoulders
and we piggy back them around for a life time.  So----

today be gentle with me
for when I show you a sketch or a painting
or read you a poem I’ve written,
in my eyes I’m that nine year old little girl
holding out a used meat tray.