Map to Immortality

Day begins in an ordinary dark. Remnants of dreams suggest that no one can free you except yourself. It makes sense at 4 a.m., but the tangle of day knots another narrative altogether. You turn the light on and wait in bed for the next directive: feed the dog, take your pills, make breakfast, prod the teenagers to life. Earl Grey tea and apple slices. You sit to write but remember that you know nothing. The edges of words become mushy and their meanings matter even less. Instead, stacks of reading. You remember Nisargadatta and Singh and the other guru who knows the way home, yet has never seen how you are changed and satisfied in his company. Glittering dawn breaks through after a seamless gray. Nothing is a mistake unless repeated. So, a new way? Sunlight spies on you through the french door windows as you watch black squirrels kick snow all along the fence line. Finger-smudged light switches; dishes in the sink. Curry is the spice of life! From table to couch to bed to sink, you work and pace and settle and think. You sing “Zombie” in honor of the departed and play air drums and guitar at all the right parts. The snow plow rattles the windows as it makes it way around the cul-de-sac. There is no more longing for spring, only survival. Only this. The shower is a retreat from freezing, and the water's rhythm soothes the rough edges. You wash the body with slow care – a gentle departure from the rush of completing the day's tasks. Geranium Lime essential oil, purple underwear, black bra, jeans and a tired hoodie with loose threads on the sleeve. Socks, Adidas. The day is half gone but you are newer than that. You are wondering and awake – doing the right thing for each moment – being effortless, for a time anyway. A sprig of lavender is pressed as far into the crease as possible. Page break. Do you know that I nominated that poem for its map to immortality? Dinner, dishes, and the family's diaspora. You crawl into bed to part with the day. And the dreams, they lead back to you.

Arriving Off Book

In late afternoon, a fog weaves through the leggy limbs of backyard pine and oak. So close and low, weighted with woodsmoke, I want to touch it. You, born of winter, what do you see?

There was a certain mastery in the beginning – an ease of openness, a pure stone awaiting its name. Now, there is only a white path deep through the woods, softening unto the earth. The melt arrives off book, off calendar. I open the windows to air out the house. For the first time in weeks, the smell of dirt and pine and wet bark. I gather it and rise. 

Notes and letters bridged a second path, another life, all those days ago. It isn't too difficult to go about one's day in absentia. Perhaps the calling will always be that of a missionary: here and not, a conduit to another way. I was possessed by it all though, you know?

now I am grounded
like red wine
spilled

aimless
but not

lost

Opossum tracks glisten like little stars in the vanishing ice. I watch them walk away for hours and am satisfied when they disappear. While we sleep, everything will be replenished – snow, ice, tracks – the collusion says “now” and “not now.” What cannot be said remains and therefore, the metaphors stretch out longingly and abysmally and infinitely. We parted company in the mirror, you and I.

It's easier to say nothing – to work hard at going nowhere. The seeds become wet in all this receding and they begin swell in the feeder as the fog roils with a winter's intensity. Crossed legged, simple hearted, I have no questions to ask and no thing to offer –

 

except

maybe

this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strip Already

 

No birds at the feeder; no rabbit tracks leading away from the deck. That there is shelter should be grace enough. How bare simplicity speaks in the strictest economy.

When it is this cold, one has to move to avoid the deep sleep that pools below the surface of things. Secular thoughts grow best in this garden of survival, or so it seems that they stretch across the skin in an effort to conserve heat. One deliberate step in front of the other in snow this deep. There is no quiet in that. Only work.

Naked saints lead to full contact. How they strip matters not to the bluejays or the cardinals, nor do the birds care what happens under the drifts. So just strip already.

before the gray
becomes a lake again
undress

Cold columns of wind plate ice onto the inside of the windows. Soup mutters on the stove. Bread swells in the oven. How winter swaddles the loose and restless yearning for April!

A thin band of sunlight breaks through just long enough for a thought. A holy hitch triggers an avalanche of gratitude. Yes, January stings. But where men's eyes cannot see, the remnants of last year gives way to whatever is next. Begin again. And again. What choice is there?

 

 

Anonymous Monks and the Graveyard Silence

A few sentences too many, perhaps.

After midnight, the moonlight turns bedroom blinds blueish for a change.

And with the sun now strangled, there are only the odd juxtapositions to consider, like snow on the boardwalk or houseplants staring outside at dead relatives.

Answers once etched in fragile frost are covered in the graveyard silence of hibernation.

Yet every once in a while the Great Horned Owl gives testimony just before dawn in deference to the anonymous monk that used to slide scraps of wisdom under my door.

Who isn't here matters. And yet, who is here remains steadfast.

I stretch out forever gray – beyond graves, beyond horizon – as wounded winter squalls cry throughout the night.

Here and there, moments of light dab the granite sheath one cannot shed.

Still, the intimate intrusion of poetry and image.

Or cardinals nesting in the rhododendron.

And the constellations' unframed cartography watching over the pulsating escape of heat.

It is all okay.

It has always been okay.

 

 

 

October Lacks Subtlety

The heart as a suitcase, carrying the things we have packed ourselves. 

For so many years, it has seemed that she bent to hear the center of her chest saying: this one or that one or none or all or yes or no or we shall see. And then later, down another path, one dappled with flickering marigold, the universe said: there is no she to hear the heart and there is no heart apart from every heart of every universe of every everything. Who is this one who is unassimilable?

Cold ginger peach tea because I am a sipper. In the grid of slanted light growing across tired floorboards up onto the arm of the couch, the last of the leaves finish act one of the shadow play. How October lacks subtlety. One must shuffle through scattering leaves to get anywhere these days. No sweetener for me, please.

Supramental consciousness. Can't we all just get along? Contrasted truths cannot be real, yet they add to the creativity of Oneness. Even winter is pursued by unity! I am tired of withholding, my love.

Colder now, the dog and I still walk. If unleashed, she would go further and further, not looking back until she had gone too far. The man on NPR said that the inside of a beehive smells like musty butterscotch due mainly to the influence of goldenrod. Lately I mouth crystalized honey in the fashion of communion wafers from the old days, but I am neither prodigal or Thomas. Maybe I am just a common sparrow eating whatever is left for me.

Lately, that familiar siren call to retreat. The calendar's permission is withheld and I am a sullen teenager brooding in the dark about it. Which heart is not yet filled to capacity?

The wind makes a fuss but the sun is full and bright and pouring down all over dancing decay. I must finish the tea and walk the bones as far off the porch as my world will allow.

 

 

 

 

 

Kissing Keyholes

The problem is imagination – perfect for art or innovation or whimsy or building a robot. Imagination constructs glimmering bridges of possibility and what-if and maybe. It is a pulse that has the power to ignite some way forward.

But it is also a cancer creeping undetected at the margins. How many hours spent tending a granite garden? How many picnics by the river fail to fold up neatly in one's backpack after the long, slow, first kiss under falling leaves or shooting stars or firefly discos?

Keeping just enough wine in the bottle to get to sleep. How imagination eats at the seams. How it hovers at the door, kissing keyholes. How it skips across the stillness in the lake.

We who listen to every thing will not hear the wind in the leaves much longer. At this latitude, in the tenth month, the mandatory acquiescence of a darker, colder dawn constricts every morning. Violet light creeps through branches in various stages of undress. Soon, only sky in its granite palette. Gradient gunmetal pushed upward by woodsmoke and deep sighs.

This family has built each member, each universe, into one another so that there is no peeling bark or extrication of a whole. What or who one touches, touches all. What one does, is done unto all. There is no otherwise. Yet, in the imaginings, there is no community – only selfish satisfaction of one moment existing as a bountiful island in a happy sea. Both truths refuse to be set down, like a pure white pelt carried further and further into January.

 

 

10 / 17

October arriving.

The gray squirrel bawls a raspy convulsion in a 3 second loop.

Dead oak leaves fall upon dead maple leaves in piles shaped like prehistoric continents – almost connecting an entire dead world.

In a dream last night, sink holes kept opening up on the road and I could do nothing to help others until I made myself safe.

The fireplaces are not in use yet, but burning leaves hang an ancestry in the air at night like a garland of bon voyage. October welcoming goodbye.

So Persephone naps.

For lunch, a chilled lentil salad with balsamic vinegar and lemon water.

I procrastinate a shower because even the thought of being cold and naked evokes shockwaves up my spine and down my limbs.

He takes one first so I jump in after.

Warmer.

October arriving.

The circumference of sunlight throughout the forest broadens.

And my freckles are still visible, especially against white shower walls.

Maybe I've always been an object, best used by hungry men. That's not true, of course. But maybe. 

Wildflowers and Free Falling and Las Vegas and Puerto Rico and you don't know how it feels – now you are October.

Light as a refugee; the painted forest falls.

Another glass of wine or whiskey, if you please. Kiss me, I'm Irish, so keep the “e.”

Camel and caramel and carmine colored proof of letting go. The leaves will only take it so far.

But you wreck me baby. So I breath it all in deep and save exhalation for later. Gator.

October arriving.

 

 

 

Out of Line

 

The torment and art of letters unwritten arrives at dawn in a certain angle of light that reminds one of what she knows, which, of course, is absolutely nothing. Rainbow cables connecting pine branches. Evergreen bushes topped with crispy golden oak leaves like a peach cobbler or Mom's sour cream coffee cake. No matter how tightly the scroll is rolled and sealed and bound in cement to be thrown in the deepest part of the darkest sea, the words migrate or lift or arrive like a searing flame every – single – day. There is no other way to say this: I've been branded.

This heart is out of line – a destroyer constructed to open the veins, to add red to the cool tones of a perfect painting. One step closer, two steps back. That is how the ravenous protects the ones they love; it is how they pray.

Roiling under the exterior. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. The mantra collides with lava; hence, brimstone. Hence the writing that only arrived when two flames licked the air they shared, almost touching. Almost combusting.

Yesterday I found the black moleskine in which he took dictation for me while I drove. After every poetic thought or observation written, he added his own “ * kisses. * ” Because he loves me in some sort of fireproof way.

The temperature drops enough for the heat to kick on. Forced air smells collected and artificial and it reminds me at the sensory level that I can't have it both ways.

Beckett mentioned MIT which is only 4 more hours of driving time from here than Michigan Tech, and did you know that Michigan is always under Massachusetts in the scroll-down menus when you have to pick your state online?

Lake Michigan is not the sea but it looks like the sea and behaves like the sea. And it's warmer in the summer and freezes around the edges sometimes in the winter. The variance wobbles with the weight of differences that converge. The question now is, what is the temperature at the edges at the merge?

I'd like to know more about that.

 

 

 

Unhinging

Reading MRI orders and notes on Chiari malformations and the face of her neurologist through finger-smudged glasses. What mattered yesterday takes a backseat to this moment. And the next. Dad sits in on the appointment; he's worried or he doesn't want to miss something or he hates that he is no longer practicing medicine. And he loves us. The medical system is a leviathan writhing up from the depths to assist or destroy, depending on how one plays the game of survival.

A storm lingers after a 4 a.m. The darker dawn opens its throaty yawn just enough to reveal leaves unhinging with the rain. I stretch out a choppy sleep under the overhang on the deck forgetting about the silver dollar spider and her masterwork up in the left corner. Shit shit shit! I bring down the work, and her ghost crawls all over my neck and shoulders for the rest of the morning.

Lately, dark matter and everything else that exists that cannot be perceived. Maybe there is something to that place where math and the un-mappable intersect. A constant overturning of truth, the great abstract, the undiluted unseen – we are here because of the invisible. So, not dark matter, transparent matter.

How the light bends changes things – an untrustworthy account of a surpassing Other.

through / beyond / right here

The foliage is more yellow than red, which does not make one color better than another but it does satisfy a heart's vacuum for variance. That's the best way I can explain what is going on here.

Leaf management strategy. Clear a little as you go or wait for the final drop? The others who toil along the way will not appreciate the wind's helping hand in carrying the uncollected masses into their clarity. But the leaf pick-up crew charges per visit. The leaves will heap taller than the old Subaru, the entire length of the driveway, and backs will ache from now until the first snowfall. A suburban forest and its drawbacks.

A few blooms yet. Though, October's vampire falls in love with his hunger while we sleep, slowly sipping a little off the top each night. I still want things in the distance. I still need to see.

 

 

 

Nothing in the Perfect Amount

Savoring each inch, crawling over September, straddling one's way up into Libra's seat. I know what must die to get there, yet a delight engages in the slow burn.

Waiting on clouds from the West. The parched earth adds resonance to leaves scraping out a landing. This drought seems to quiet the jays who usually have something to say. Yet the heron says nothing in the perfect amount. A dropped feather floats and to watch it drift away is the fitting end to that which can never.

In the patchwork clearing of night's humidity, a few peek-a-boo constellations take requests. I ask for a song wrapped in a blood-orange maple leaf, folded in tomorrow's envelope. October is around the bend and it will place the lyrics gently swaddled in the manger of what remains. Outside of thought. Outside of wisdom. Outside of winter's calipers measuring a girl's worth.

Don't untie the knots just yet; the flow is not as impotent as one might think.

The sedum blushes a little deeper and the canopy begins to yawn. October is for strolling, for woodsmoke, for thicker blankets and socks. When the wind blows, a murmuration of leaves shoves the breath and mind off into a brief and brilliant holiday elsewhere. He says I pronounce “else” with an “n” between the “l” and the “s.” And . . . he turns 16 today and I can't imagine my life without him.

While the acorns stole the show with percussive downbeats, pines steadily dropped their needles unnoticed. As if overnight, a copper flag unfurled over hostas and archangel and stone-stepped pathways. This is a certain paradise I cannot refuse.

there are others
in the arms of autumn
along the way

 

 

On The Table

Glinting strands wave and disappear in the barely breeze. Early morning is the only time bearable to be out in late September's bizarre heatwave. I walk with the heathens Sunday morning. Each street lends a theme along the way – frying sausage, cinnamon rolls, laundry in the dryer. At the park, September's potpourri fills each of the senses. Sunlight heats the last of the blooms to an earthy musk mingled with leaves already surrendered. Downy goose feathers rest in cradles of yellowing grass and resplendent beads are held over in the soaring humidity. How unexpected and happy Michigan can be!

Lately, stacks of cookbooks. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. Woolf and other meaningful coalescing.

A red-sickle moon negating all queries. The tip-toeing girl, the night skulker, the one who gets so far away . . . she will drift if she has the chance. She will wield that scythe in harvest and in justification and when leveling the overgrowth of perception. What is incomplete lingers and then laughs at being thought of as “incomplete.” Can you imagine that kiss?

The room of windows acts like a greenhouse on these sweltering days. Dime-sized lakes pool on the houseplant leaves; I dip my my middle finger in, turn my wrist up, and taste. It's not mine to consume, but tasting is okay, yes? There is enough.

No more firefly messengers. No more phantasm chances to skinny dip in black waters. Kora nuzzles one of the last fuschia blooms and a pollen-drunk bee lumbars from the magenta cup. She snaps at it, startling at my objection. There are whole trees without leaves now, just in the last day or so. Still autumn waters show everything.

The neurologist ordered another MRI and assembled a neurosurgical team to discuss the issue. How quickly a daughter's life flickers in her mother's heart when brain surgery is on the table! “On the table” becomes a leaky, watercolor phrase, bleeding here and there until there is no stain left on the invoice. She told the doctor that her band schedule is paramount and he pointed his pen at her and said: no it isn't.

Winter showers soon enough, but today I sweat a great heat through my pores and wonder about what else I need to taste before it is no longer on the table.

 

 

 

The Paper Trail

A spider waits in the upper left corner of the doorframe, clinging to an unseasonably warm background. Opening the door draws the web inward and the spider shifts ever so slightly. For three days I am startled by her acorn abdomen at eye level. And on the fourth day, I tell her that Bob Dylan is coming to town and that I am making green beans and roasted chicken for dinner and that Beckett turns sixteen next week.

The wind is  now able to twirl dry leaves without effort and walking down the lane is noisy – I am noisy. The ecology of the collective has not been juked, perhaps some wallflower planting though. Seeping works that way.

Humidity fogs up my glasses as I wend a way through goldenrod and wild blackberry vines and tiny blue chalices I've never known the name of. I remember the day Father Don told the parish he was leaving. It was the late 80's and his hair was spiked and he wore jelly rubber bands around his wrist even during Mass. The youth was in love with this "DJ Priest" and we wept our goodbyes at communion that day. This, too, was my last day in the Catholic Church. Years later it was rumored that he left the priesthood under the mental duress of not being able to reconcile his vow of celibacy with the love he saw in the world. I was too young then to understand the portal of skin and eyes and soft passionate voices whispering holiness, and I am yet too young to grasp it still. But I know the thinning veil when I brush up against it.

One thing I have in common with my father is the love of yellow foolscap against the oaken table. His pad contained lists and notes about patients or football stats or various jobs he wanted to complete on his day off. Mine held the first feeble steps of poetry, barely gracing the page, like fawn steps or first kisses or curling cinnamon sassafras leaves finally landing in the holly bush. Angst and beauty came to life on those papers and surprised me. The proof of my pain and hatred for the way I was treated had a paper trail – yellow with blue lines and sometimes red ink and more often than not, puckered dried-up ponds where the tears hit.

The spider was gone today when I opened the door to let the dog out before dawn. No trace remained of her craft or her thoughts on the heat or any indication of impatience. 

the spider, the priest, the foolscap paper –
all framing the wind
in the wild

 

 

According to September's Want

Resplendence on the way to October. Butterflies foraging with honey bees this late in the game. Markedly more than last year, acorns pelt the roof and rattle over the sides – sometimes in giant, angry handfuls.

On the elimination diet, I am thinking more and more about chocolate. And Kenyan AA coffee. And Manchego cheese. But red wine sort of fills the crevices so thirsty for decadence. As this season gives way to the next, blushes of color escalate unto a blazing end. Before the long shrouded sleep, bare branches will rake at a gruesome sky. And I will sip cardinal intoxication for the health of it – for the gun shot pain of it.

For now, light bends according to September's want. Spicy chili, pumpkin muffins, and turmeric tea. The holograph of happiness is one that I willingly allow these days. Everyone is putting out chrysanthemum welcome mats, and I am ordering lamps for all the plants I'm going to save this year. Maybe the greenhouse work will penetrate bones and keep a verdant percolator bubbling until spring.

Did you see the cloud-scuffed moon last week? Did you try to drink moonlight full into your eyes and gaping mouth? The stars were stacked like Grandpa's cigarette pack that he kept rolled up on his arm at all time. The white pine was so still – frozen in the absence of tree frogs and night-calling katydids.

Fingerprints in a used book. What do words mean outside of the moment? Letters imprinting like rabbit tracks in a first snowfall . . . remnants of a slight heat, recording a moment's direction before it is erased, flake by drifting flake. Yet the tingle of seeing those tiny prints, glittering in a later dawn, pointing the way, away.

At the head of temporary bridges it is easy to see how their planking sentences are bolted with intent. That which carries, over rivers and ravines. Over beauty and certain death. Over the distance of blessing and curse. The question is no longer: should or shouldn't I cross. Instead, only: why is it here?

 

 

 

The Altering Outer

Green acorns litter every step from deck to gardens. Manna is a matter of perspective: one's bruised bare foot is another's windfall.

The blinds are broken on the bedroom's west-facing window. Now they are always down – closed to sunlight bent through pines / to orange-red-pink / to the familiar benevolence that anchors unspooling days. In the room of windows I push my knees against the creamy corduroy loveseat to turn it more westerly for a time. This thinner light takes it all apart. Certain salutations hover over an image awaiting the recognition of touch; how easily the story drifts without it.

Colder nights bring animals in to the bedroom walls. Acorns, rodent parties, and eleventh-hour fireworks sew the seams of midnight into a sleepless wholeness. One considers the altering outer and is arrested by the lack of stasis. So she drifts, Beloved, picking up what rains down, not to collect or store – but to live.

Standing at the edge of his bed I untie my black satin robe more shyly than our years together might suggest. It's playful at first, but the kiss finds a way to betray...containment, image, proclivity. What was closed, opens; distance crawls away ashamed. This ingress allows one to pass tracelessly onward. Have we not met there before?

Potato leek soup with fresh fruit on the side. More doctors tomorrow. More change. How increasingly strange to notice the aching knee or dimming eyes when the Watcher is climbing the mountain!

Every night for hours I listen to her scales and etudes and solos. I know her phrasing and how it is informed by auditions and professors and goals. She is better than I was and she wants it more. Her art grows resonant and amplified.

Quickened and stilled / I am caught in it.

And so finally, the weekend fulfills a last promise, and night reclaims its infinite reservoir. Which dreams will transcend? What hair-line crack of truth?

I gather myself / into folds / of raven robes / in hand-tied play / undone

 

Swimming the Length of the Next Fall

 

Wind chime dissonance floats into the bedroom. They grind on my sensibilities like when Dad would play Springsteen or Seeger as loudly as the system could handle. It was music I didn't ask for, which always felt arrogant. The neighbor's chimes continue to force themselves upon that invisible place, triggering what cannot be reset.

now / everyday / chimes.

Pad Thai and lemon cookies with powdered sugar nestled in perfectly baked valleys. September always begins the negotiation of that moment when nothing in the world will keep the alertness of my skin from happening. Barn jackets and scarves and earth-jeweled palettes. A copulant beauty glitters in the crisper air. I suppose that is why I have always threatened to head east in autumn; this is the time when every cell pulsates under the skin, ripening unto my fullest harvest.

her basket nestled on the hip / gather / carry / consume

At 3 a.m. acorns fall cracking dreams wide open. Shotgun entry wounds form a portal of momentary confusion. In the lengthening dark, cognizance swims the length of the next oceanic fall. How autumn is heard.

When we come from so far to get nowhere at all – September. The room of windows is cold already – so more blankets. More coffee. More tea. Lou said they sent the scat to the DNR and with a giddy glint asked me to guess from which animal it came. Bear? This far south? No! Yes! And so the animation billowed and chortled to my absolute delight. Not everyone is pleased about it, though.

The lake at night – never neutral and sometimes terrifying, and yet, always an abiding tingle of freedom and clandestine undoing. The blackened water reaches in to remove my name from its haughty throne. She takes a knee every time. Other fantasies are amusements of the distracted heart, but our clothing dropping to the dock in exchange for the weightless cloak of night is so much more than that. It is the marriage of the sacred and profane. And it is the music of our rippled wake tickling the dock as we move from two cautious bodies wading in the shallows to one shivering exchange in the unknowing depths.

Which dishonest performance is preferred the most? One doesn't need to be good to be great. This and other highways I'll ride to get to the truth. Already beyond. Already too far.

 

 

 

Calling Up the Blood

Earlier this year than last, sleep becomes serrated unto 3 a.m. It is too cold to leave the cocoon of summer blankets. I listen to podcasts and storytelling and news from unreachable lands but in the end, it is singing bowls that tuck me in tighter. In the last dream, the Dalai Lama visits with a holy comfort. We make some jokes together but mostly he is a quiet companion hedging the cliff of unimaginable grief.

The unspooling of summer, with her tenor-tap acorns and chameleon adornments, always presents the same lesson: let go. I don't want this lecture anymore. Yet I arrive at the edge of a pine forest in complete heartache over his silence. The pines are different than other woods – they whisper if they say anything at all, and it is this quiescence that calls up the blood from my being. I'm like that . . . I'll stand there at the verge, overtaken by beauty, unable to accept the responsibility of sullying or ruining what is perfect. So too, my study of Dickinson or the mountains and glacial blues of New Zealand or the hike on Riley Trail that brings one out atop a massive dune overlooking Lake Michigan. This certain hunger lingers. Eventually I step in; that is what it means to be an October child of deep lakes, reflecting the fire of untouchable canopies.

Hours slip away on the rotting back deck. The warmth won't last. The sun won't stay. Therein lies the difficulty of being present only. A flash of red rustles yellowing hasta leaves and his familiar chirrup foreshadows the savior sound of red. Before surrendering to Wednesday, the carmine curl of a maple leaf at my feet.

So it is – red begins.

 

Anchorless Distance

Soon, the steep rise of leafless branches. One ponders picking flowers from a thicket yet refrains. How often do words reach behind; how often does intuition swim ahead? The lake-shaped horizon placates the query. Long looks far away – an anchorless distance.

Filling the watering can reveals a perfect half moon of dazzling jewels just beneath the opening. An unseen web finally exalted and the pedestrian life of care-taking reaps a small reward. Every bend of the back, every wooden floorboard scrubbed, every ingredient harvested, assembled and cooked . . . a life stitches itself together in the small moments of nothing. But do they stitch me?

Mosquitos are still active this late in the game but have now begun to wane. Bees, chrysanthemums and acorn tops. Michigan's hand still waves but the arthritic bones warn of the granite ahead. We who grip the cliff during winter's hold tend to wonder if there will be enough light. It's almost time to move the plants indoors; it's almost time to shiver. The sky is always cold.

Ginger tea these days and yoga instead of running. Swelling under the knee and an absence in my heart. Besides, I was only ever running in one direction.

towards October / her flag on fire / maple dusk

 

 

Tucking Into Breastbone Hollows

 

Unwinding ribbons of sun, earlier and earlier. A young rabbit moves in mute from stepping stone to stone. To see one another and move on seems to be the path. Already, acorns.

We called Gibson “the fifth child” on account of how much Mom made him a priority. His ashes will come back next week to be buried under the upper deck stairs that face the lake. He literally dug his own grave. The dogless silence fills her house now.

Perhaps the time has arrived to become less earnest. A perpetual benediction swirls in slanted sunlight streaming through the room of glass. Isn't reading generally a means to attain? And so what is writing? There is a great fatigue swelling in the actions of my day. The ego bleeds, you know.

It's colder now. The empty fireplace waits on winter, waits on its savior moments. Flowers gasp and sweatshirts exhale the darkness of drawers. Darker days express the need to stay awhile. And yet. A woman wraps beautiful scarves over her nape and tucks the coils into breastbone hollows. The fabric is comfort and shield and camouflage. In all its undoing, autumn allows this.

The tick of my father's watch – he sutures what is always fleeting. The smell of hospital and disinfected hands and Polo aftershave would sting my nose when his mustache pricked my cheek long after bedtime. He stayed long enough for two ticks of the second hand – leather strapped, gold, square-faced Timex, tick-tocking in the silence of my room.

Lately, Sinéad. Her public expressions of mental illness are arresting. I remember remember the things that she screamed into my adolesence. I remember her red voice, the color of love and rage. The color of excommunication. The color of my hair.

Now it is the color of wine in the darkheart of night on the back porch watching the last of fireflies mingle over the creek. One doesn't discount the distance, you know. There and not there, a cartography of sentences spool down the long corridor. My east and eastward. Into sunrise, into light.

As a small rabbit warms each stepping stone with quiet insights, so too my small racing heart settles into a muted lull. Yet even in one thousand years I will not forget how it feels to melt away under warmth of scarves and fireplaces and dogs and the candle-softness of daybreak on my face.

 

 

Finding the Fulcrum

 

Today's coffee in yesterday's mug. Sipping the colder mornings means finding the fulcrum between crisp relief and the coming frost. Staring through glass at that which will wither soon. Stroking my hair: God, I hate when I cut it.

Food is stored in the bathroom shower off the kitchen because there is no pantry. Maybe some day a kitchen with a pantry; this and other dreams that counsel through long, pending winters. For the cook who would rather be cooked for, the kitchen is a hearth of loyalty – a place of commitment and sacrifice and dutiful offering. At times, a noose. And at others, a tainted swale of creativity and benevolence. Every meal, every day, I construct polders and other contrivances. Please don't eat rice, okay? The arsenic levels are too high. Quinoa will get the job done.

The humidity has broken and in the screaming brilliance of luminance one could almost cower. Pacing the stepping stones in and out of mottled light a thought presents a successive unfolding – where are we now?

Maybe lasagna tonight, maybe my mother's goulash. All days are dictated by the other's needs. The dog cries for food in the morning and the flowers need water. The husband invites a wife into his half of the bed. The children need shoes or a saxophone repair or a snack. A friend asks to have wine at sunset in the room of windows. My self-sense is revealed in the community of selves. Is this a choice? This and other ways to map the interior of the collective.

The days that readers don't read. The letters writers don't send. The way August both pulls long like taffy yet is eagerly consumed. This is how sentences beg.

bees
satellite the pine
in and out of sunlight's favor –
I watch what I cannot touch
I touch what cannot be seen

 

 

 

The Weight of Unknowable Alteration

Under broken moonlight, always-already.

The fatality of summer shouldn't matter, yet we interfere.

Water / prune / harvest.
Love / look / write.

The dog wants to go running with me but it is too hot for too long. She cries in the outset and later curls into herself like a cinnamon roll when I return.

Lately, apples and their seeds. One's fingerprints on what is thrown away or cast aside matters. The vision or touch or hearing of a thing transfers a weight of unknowable alteration. In this awareness, the witness loses herself and becomes. This-ness. Then, what need is there of God?

All night long, a steady hardiness pushes the rain. A turkey and pepper jack cheese sandwich at 3 a.m. - I'm not always vegan. Not following the rules does not make one reckless. In this way the night veil is instructive. Is it even possible to touch by accident?

Morning remains dark and rain strikes metal eaves like an erratic tympani. The room of windows is a harbor whereby I can see and hear and smell the dampened fusion of nature and humanity. Kyle has placed a Tibetan singing bowl in the room – a surprise donation of that which he no longer needs. I am bewitched by it and open a full-hearted portal. My wedding ring disturbs the vibration of the bowl. 

I remove it.

Prayers for peace erupt out of Kenya because it is election time again. Day to day, the memory of the 2007 post election horrors no longer finds me. But those of us who endured arrive instantly when the pleas and fear and heightened vigilance soaks the airwaves. I do not pray but easily slip back into the reverberations of automatic weapons and machetes and screams in the night.

Waiting was the most terrifying; for when the mobs breached the silence, it was time to flee or hide or fortify. When tear gas exploded it was time to run. When gasoline and food and water and cell phone air time was cut off, it was time to conserve. When severed body parts mingled with mud and sewage and blood, it was time to vomit and grieve.

But when there is silence, nothing can force the blackness of war out of room.

There are four boys who live behind the privacy fence in our backyard. They've built a citadel with roofing and zip lines and lookout towers, all taller than our one-story house. Their ninja warrior course is in use well into the night, and they shoot Airsoft guns for hours and hours that replicate AK-47s.

They play at war. Their father is proud. And the mother yells at the boys from some inner room to include their baby sister.

Pray if you want. But somewhere along the line your god told you that all of this was okay.

Midmorning the rain slows beyond a hush. Kenyans are voting and waiting. And I am going outside to sweep overshot Airsoft pellets off my rotting deck.