In darkness, her eerie smile lights the room. It’s Halloween morning. Until that moment, there was only an unopened bag of candy by the door to mark the day. Now, at 6 a.m. Halloween has arrived as surely her eerie smile lights my day.
Riding into work today, I realized I was humming that song about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, and the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Later as I looked for the lyrics to my morning song, I found that the Big Rock Candy Mountain is not part of the birds and the bees song. I’m sure these songs which rise up in me early in the morning tell me about my day, so I’m not sure how to take the latest song which popped into my head in the last five minutes, “Good-bye, Joe, you’ve got to go, to the bayou.”, realizing later that those weren't the lyrics either. I’m certainly glad I already saw my therapist this week or we would spend the whole session on the birds and the bees and the Big Rock Candy Mountain. I can only imagine how she'd want to explore that one. Way too transparent for my taste.
her branches reached for the sky, only to be hacked to the ground, her trunk sliced in two, her energy pushed down into the ground, the result of a red neck with a chainsaw and nothing better to do. But wait, she tries again, sending out small branches, each of them reaching up to the sky.
I was vacuuming the living room, zoned out, thinking of how I should do this more often and why I don’t, deep thoughts like that. The light changed in just a few minutes, from the time it took to vacuum from the kitchen to the living room, from an ordinary late afternoon sunshine to a preternatural dusky rose cast. The housewife in me focused on getting the vacuuming done, the poet in me dropped the wand and ran to the door to catch a glimpse of magic.
writing a great poem makes it harder to write a mediocre one, as if the bar has been raised permanently, no room to slip underneath when no one is looking. a paralysis sets in, an expectation of greatness that you achieved once and maybe will never achieve again. what a burden, then, to write a great poem and then to never enjoy writing again. Give me the joy of writing many mediocre poems any day.
The deadline is looming and everytime I look over at the stack of papers, my stomach sinks. There is so much to do, and so little desire to do it. I’ve got to do it, but the sun is shining, a beautiful day to go see Obama speak in Denver at 10 a.m. Home by noon, nap, write the proposal, should be fine. Obama wow’ed us at 11:30, appropriate to celebrate the event with an Amber ale, Scottish sausage and kraut, and ..chocolate. Actual: home at 4, nap, start the dreaded proposal at 8. No way to finish it and so it waits for me again tomorrow. The deadline is one day closer. I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can finish writing.
A quiet evening at home with no interruptions…Friday night at the movies! Freshly made popcorn, the kind I like, no compromises, the natural stuff with no salt, no fake butter, no taste. Haagen Dazs vanilla bean ice cream for my second course. I settle into the spot in the dinette bench where the spring is broken, stretch my legs across to the other bench, slouch into the movie watching posture. Aaah, no dogs underfoot, no one else hogging the other bench, battling for limited real estate. Open up the laptop, plug in the speakers and log into Neflix, survey the vast array or possibilities with that delicious feeling when you make all the choices. I settle on a Spanish film to get ready for Costa Rica and a fun film to finish off my night of popcorn and vanilla ice cream. Twelve minutes of Belle Epoque, seven of Ratatouille, popcorn and ice cream gone. The penultimate movie goer.
I was never much of a planner. Vacations were random at best, disastrous when an expired passport was discovered three days before departure for Italy. A successful trip was when I left the house with a credit card, clean underwear and a slip of paper with the airline and flight number on it. A toothbrush was a bonus, and a sandwich, apple and some chocolate in my bag was a home run. Tonight, I sit mere inches from a guidebook to Costa Rica. I think it might even be calling to me to at least crack open its cover, look at a map inside or a few pictures, turn it over, or at least, move the paper sitting on top of it off to side so I can see the picture on the cover which is surely lovely. Not me, I say back to the book. I’m not getting lured into spending endless hours with you or your friends. I was never much of a planner and it’s not going to change tonight. I’m busy watching the polls.
it’s hard to concentrate when all I hear is the slobbering, gnawing noises of two dogs chewing their rawhide, punctuated by the cracking of bone. my obsession with the latest polls overturned by annoyance at how loud and obnoxious they can be, how thoughtless, really! and then I know they will come over and lay their slobbery heads on my lap and look at me lovingly, fully expecting me to turn my attention to them since they are now ready. and all I want to is some peace and quiet so I can obsess over the latest polls.
they used to circle in her mind, as automatically as the blood in her veins. without a conscious thought, she knew where they were, how they were. she was thus able to attend to visiting the neighbor to pick up her Christmas cactus that is blooming now under their care. that space that used to be filled seems empty now, and worries wander in and out as ghosts drift in and out of old houses.
He used to laugh when the tent collapsed on us in a torrential rainstorm, and watch with amused interest when the flames from the fire licked our young hands as we tried to cook pancakes or eggs in a tiny frying pan. Better than eating cereal that had been in his trunk for two years since the last time he dragged us on a summer vacation to somewhere we never wanted to go. This was the man who knew about the murder of two young girls, and maybe participated, who concealed evidence at the very least. The man who always called us spoiled American brats, even though we had nothing. All the extra money was used to satisfy his desires. This man would have been 90 today. Thankfully he left us in peace 20 years ago. I sure don’t miss him.
The Worland Warriors bus was parked out front this morning. I could see their coffee cups sitting on the table and the afghan throw folded neatly on the couch, but no sign of the itinerant inhabitants. They’ve been about town, moving constantly so as to evade the parking police, seeking out a roomy four car spot in a nice neighborhood. They’re gone now after such a short stay, only enjoying the view of my garden for this one lovely day.
Every day, rain or shine, I’d see him on my way to work. I would be riding my bike, he would be walking and we’d usually pass each other by the 30th Street bridge.
Everyday he carried two full plastic Wild Oats bags, wore those headphones that have an antenna sticking up from the left side for reception, his watery blue eyes focused on the sidewalk three feet in front of him. He never looked up at me, his expression never changed, his mind somewhere, not related to here.
Sometimes if I was running very late, he would have arrived at the bench by 19th Street He would sit besides his two full plastic Wild Oats bags and listen to his radio, thoughtfully regarding the creek and the sky.
Wild Oats doesn’t exist anymore. Yesterday I saw him with two spanking new Whole Foods bags, filled to the brim. Even he is affected by corporate mergers.
she lies across the bed diagonally now, her head regally perched on a silk pillowcase passed down from her grandmother, her long legs visible under the blankets extending towards the foot of the bed, her legs crossed, gazing skyward as if casually watching the stars wheeling overhead
Milk and broken glass exploded from the impact site, where thin walled bottle and asphalt collided. An unforeseen and unwanted meeting. It was night, I was tired, my sneakers were now drenched. I left the $6 for the milk in the cooler, going home empty handed.
I’m not ready to go grey, regardless of my feminist leanings, my full and unequivocal support for those who do. Grey doesn’t match the color of my freckles, the color of the seat on my 50 cc scooter, or the warm color of my skin. I’m not ready to go grey even though I know I should. I am so vain as to enjoy when people seem surprised that I’m fifty and have two kids in college. Even if they don’t really mean it. One day, my hair will be a wave of silver and I will be beautiful.
The shiny beige wedge of squid, reposed on the worn cutting board waiting for the chef to wield his newly sharpened knife, waiting to be sliced in half, opened, exposing an inner flesh decorated with a bony saber and a gelatinous unidentified object, both summarily picked off the surface and disposed of out of view. Next, this glistening surface was to be sliced across, lengthwise and two ways diagonal to soften the rubbery flesh. We watched in morbid fascination and with some semblance of doubt. We, who were used to delicate fried calamari which dissolved in our mouths with hardly a chew. The usual routine, high heat, oil, minced garlic, Kosher salt, pepper, saffron from Spain, diced red pepper and green onion. The not so usual: lots of butter and plenty of white wine. Served up on chipped china from the home economics kitchens at Platt Middle School. Voila! Rubbery squid in an excellent sauce!
Two days of blowing it off, not even an attempt to write a poem on a spare scrap of paper, surrounded by new material; the ocean, sand, long shadows cast behind primeval rocks as the sun sinks into the sea, a fireball extinguished by water. No discipline, only excessive eating; local fudge, blackberry jam, fish and chips, killer caramel-brownies. I arrive home finally, bearing sweet gifts of dark chocolate walnut fudge, exquisite caramel-pecan turtles and almond toffee. I started obsessing that I couldn’t write anymore. I’d lost my discipline of writing every day. And then, when I thought he wasn’t looking, I absently mindedly munched the chocolate he had left out for himself to eat later, only to turn my head to see him staring at me.
I was blissfully unaware of Lutherans until one sat next to me on the flight from Denver to Portland. I didn't know the Devil was responsible for the interfaith strife between various Christian denominations, much less that Buddhists and Muslims, Hindus and Jews were destined for Hell. He used his pale blue eyes, his intent probing stare to drill into my brain, attempting to bypass any semblance of logic I applied to the matter of hand, whether the Devil is responsible for all evil, whether Jesus came to use the sword on his people, or to teach love. Lutherans believe in the former. He was heading back home from a conference of pastors, newly loaded with fire and brimstone messages. I was on my way to see a friend in need, to share a little friendship, to offer a bit of comfort. What would Jesus do?
Tell me it isn’t so. A Buddha head tattoo’ed on a bald man’s head, the swollen lips purplish blue as one might find at death. the outline of head matching that of the bald spot on his head, the poor guy. Dressed in his purple-red striped yoga pants and Sarah Palin designer glasses, he waited impatiently to get his high blood pressure medication at the pharmacy. How fitting.
the smell wafted across the theater seats, burnt popcorn not the theatre’s popcorn either, that overpriced stuff drenched in fake butter that clogs your arteries. No, the homemade stuff that you sneak into the theatre to avoid paying the ridiculous price they want for that ghastly popcorn drenched in fake butter. the top most kernels almost tasted ok, just slightly smoked, but the inner kernels were black and I may have even seen a few whisps of smoke still rising from the bag. I suddenly feared a theatre manager might turn off the movie and turn up the lights to find who had the gall to sneak in a bag of popcorn, burnt popcorn, or that the smoke alarm might go off. In a complete panic now, I poured the popcorn into my messenger bag and slouched down in the seat to watch the movie.
my phone rang finally. after searching google maps for a small house on the beach, where his phone rang endlessly, with no answer writing down the phone number of the local post office where maybe they had seen him, checking whether there is a local police station that might be able to find him. searching the local newspapers for any information on where he lived or the name of the woman who ended her own life only one wall distant from where he lay sleeping, awakened by the thud of her body. living with fear that he had joined her in some terrible pact. my phone fjnally rang. it was him, alive.
the recollection of the past, the present, the café where we sat and talked about what happened that fateful day. A re-invention, integration of that day, and today. the storm that shook your house, one that was approaching for so many years. the sunshine that beams in the clear window today. a recollection, a new picture, the past shaded a little less black because I am sitting here, next to you.
I wish I could say that I was tough, could hang with the group in a left rotating echelon or a right, pulling up only to drop back and pull up again. But that would be a lie, of course. Instead, I pulled off to the side of the road and burst into tears.
He was never much of a leader, but he had keen ears and was the first to hear the crinkling of a paper wrapper and corral his female companion to head that way. Nipping at her heels, he’d make sure she cleared the way, only dashing in front of her when food was in plain sight. He sure knew how to charm the ladies. Dapper in his white coat and grey ears, he’d run upstairs to visit Daisy, while Butterscotch fumed below. When he finally hopped back downstairs, there was hell to pay. Fur flew everywhere, more white than brown, I might add. When Butterscotch died, he was more than a little interested in the brunette upstairs and requested a meeting on neutral ground in the kitchen, where she showed him who’s boss and he happily transitioned from widower to married once again. Now Daisy is alone and she runs on her own quickly to the sound of crinkling of a paper wrapper, only now it is just me who makes sure the path is clear.
Karen and I adopted Snowflake and Butterscotch when they were babies March 20, 1999. They were probably born in January of that year. They lived very happily until Butterscotch died in March of 2007. I had another rabbit, Daisy, who I had never been able to bond with another rabbit. Daisy and Snowflake bonded beautifully after Butterscotch died, and Daisy was never so happy as with Snowflake. Daisy and I will both miss Snowflake very much. He was a very special bunny.
(statement by Senator Joe Biden in response to accusation by Gov. Palin that we must only look to the future)
every breath taken every word spoken every emotion evoked lays down a pathway from which you step forward from past to present to future. every book read, every conversation shared, every embrace, every sweet moment, and every painful one propels you from yesterday to today to tomorrow. there can be no future without a today or a yesterday. the past is the prologue to the future.
at least no one’s in jail, no one’s in the hospital. a brush with the police and a bout of strep throat. nothing too serious in the grand scheme of life. merely a nuisance party, a bit of bad luck, nothing that a new apartment and a dose of antibiotics can’t solve after all. that’s what someone who isn’t a parent says.