Stroll

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Let us take a walk through a particular woods on Long Island in New York. I will show it to you and then you will understand why a set of trees and a narrow stream could mean this much to me. I met my husband on Long Island and had my first child there. I don’t remember anymore what town these woods were in, but  I used to go there often, and usually alone. But even when by myself, I did not find it lonely there. It held that kind of peaceful solitude that you can really embrace.

As you step into the woods, about twenty paces, there is a small stream and a little bridge going over it. You can sit on the bridge and hang your feet over. I sat here countless times. Walking further in, the place is green, lush and cool with many leafy trees and evergreens. The smells are great and the ground is damp, so you can smell that as well. If you stand very still there in the Autumn, you can hear leaves falling from various distances away. My favourite clearing you’ll see as we come to it, is surrounded by several large trees with red leaves, and when they fall, they form a carpet beneath of red and pink.

How sweet it would be to sit in this clearing once more with the leaves falling around me and onto my head, shoulders and lap. When I was here I was in love, and he was in love with me. I remember how that felt to be someone’s whole world. And the day they put my newborn daughter into my arms, I thought I could take on the world myself. I want to feel that again, that feeling of red and pink, and explosions going off overhead, and my head so full of poetry that I thought it would be blown clear off. I’d like to be in love (here) again.

should spring be always
or summer arrive at thought
or autumn’s riches

the bubble

the art allows you to stay shielded
cloaked in a never-ending array of colors and shadows
blocking from view every pockmark and each scar
from the days when you sowed freely on the streets
never able to see here from there and ignoring
the pain of too short nights and screechingly hot and bright days

the painty glow allows you freedom of movement inside the bubble
keeping the crowd guessing, keeping the unwashed
interested in what’s bubbling within, no one noticing
the color of the exhaust, the color of deception, and
each slight cocooned in jelly-bean flavours, your smile
keeping the beer flowing and the joviality on tap

grievances

self-pity
forgive me
isn’t pretty
crying with ruby-
throated sparrows
roof-top
when he did not
see me
he’s a
one-strike-
you’re-out man

all my words
any accolades
mere dust
when I see his
eyes go blank
knowing he
does not hear me
(desperately braiding
a tether to reach)

I was not her
I don’t have
delicate hands
(they have fought,
caressed,
held up babies
and made love
like a warrior)
my hands are not small

through another window
someone moans
complains
my mind still wedged
in fascination
(her voice
fading
to a hum)
smiling
as fairies come

late night crackle of fire
early June heat like mid-summer swelter
bad news on the horizon

I take steps backwards, and
a hand on my back pushes
me to press on

put popcorn in the fire
ice in a glass
small joys

My list is my own list

 

 

My body is revolting. It is telling me things about the life I have lived and the myriad of ways I have abused it. I am 54. I could easily live 30 more years or more based on my health as I saw it 30 years ago. But now, I get warning signs. I lose friends. Friends younger than I are dying suddenly. I am surrounded by cancer.

Why have I written all these very not-cheerful words? Because we all have a time when we face ourselves. For some it is at 40. For others, 70. For me it was 50, but I ignored it until this past year. I became overly sentimental and mawkish about the smallest details. Everything meant something. A cough, a twinge, a sudden chill.

Continue reading

absolution

‘don’t drop the soap’, he said
as if I were headed to the penitentiary
any time soon, I suppose
that is where the penitent go for redemption
by definition, all of our dust
we carry on our shoes, if they be
one hundred or my own three sets
they carry the browsing history
of years of searching

Wild flower on asphalt

Agraulis_vanillae_at_Isla_Margarita.jpg

Lying in the middle of prairie flowers and wild
grasses-better than in the road-and how much do I owe
for loss of time money and how much it cost
in the long run. Sometimes we mourn and then find out
we were holding the knife that cut down our past

When we met I was in a shop buying a chicken, writing
a poem on the back of a grocery list. I want that mystique
that kept you coming around. A rose died-so what
you gave it to me-so what. I can buy dozens of flowers
but you-there is just one-you fell asleep on my breast

Our love is not like the others, cool as Eskimo nights
our love is crispy like chalupas – with a creamy center
driving through the days and weeks, trying not to
drown ourselves. I painted you with a touch of noir, making you
over with the look of Bogart I needed to navigate life

I get blue when I see what has become of you
so far from the happy times I barely recognize
the boy from 1989. Did someone do this to you
(did I ) or did you let it happen?
Every happiness flown away like fritillaries

 

*****

The Gulf fritillary or passion butterfly (Agraulis vanillae), photo by The Photographer

To-write about list

 

the fancies of my youth
snuffed out by careless usury

books with pictures
pictures of animals
animals that work on farms
and domesticated pets in houses

books full of all the words
every word that would make you stay
every word that would convince you
that what you are doing is hurting me
and the words for extra credit
that would make your mouth open and all the truth come out
so I would finally know and understand