Friday nights

That was my stool I would sit on
once a week next to my sister
and we’d talk and talk over dreams
and wishes, like kids
at an overnight

As the night wore down
and the head grew more inebriated
we confessed all our sins
baptizing one another in club soda
with a twist

Waking up next to each other
with all our confessions
cut into paragraphs
spending our Mondays
pasting them back together

In the ring

Each day we brushed
up against one another
(we could have had
all the chocolates
a friendship can offer)
sweet notes
spoiled by bitter tones

I was in awe
of you on a pedestal
you did not ask for
walking around me
in bullfighter stance, when
bending my head to charge
I watched you crumble

While regrets ate my resolve
no sleep, and no inclination
to count days
measuring quality of life
reclining
sucking up oxygen
and strawberries

(am I too) Impatient (or is it you)

Everyone has their say
but not everyone has a voice
some need a nudge of a kind hand
to let them know
it is safe out there

Kindness taken for weakness
we watch it traded for dross
then tossed in the bin forgotten
its worth worth left behind, the
precious glue of fences

I froze crossing the bridge
between the river
I drew life from
and my greatest desires
the air sucked out of my lungs
like from magnets

You stole my heart
playing Moonlight Sonata
while I tore a napkin to bits
then broke off my stained glass hands
taking my pen for spite

I thought I could be cured
by every agony
each outburst of fluids, but
it’s your soul I fall in love with
every time two become one

I watch you move
in and out of people
like the tide and the beach
only that’s really beautiful
and never lets me down

Visiting

cafeteria.JPG

 

I went to a local nursing home to visit my friend. She turned 93 on her birthday yesterday. I hadn’t been able to reach her by phone. Bad timing and bad luck. I would call during a meal that was earlier than I expected, or she would be at physical therapy or a Bible Study down the hall. I could have interrupted, but it seemed best not to. Today though, I felt I ought to go find her. I hadn’t seen her in a month, and I didn’t want her to think I had forgotten her birthday. Her husband was there and told me she was in the cafeteria. Walking to the lunch room I saw faces I recognized, but could no longer put names too, familiar faces from my relatively small town that helped make up the quilt of a place. Seeing their faces again filled in the empty squares. I had missed them and didn’t know it. They were simply in this peaceful place, trying to get well. Some had family coming. Others have outlived their families and work the days as best as they can by reading or talking to the other residents.

When I found my friend’s table, she had a smile upon seeing me. Lunch wasn’t served yet, so we talked some, and caught up. She asked if I had remembered her birthday yesterday, and I told her I had, only I could not find her. She said that they had let her go home with her family for a few hours and enjoy her birthday there. I told her I loved her and gave her the fudge I made, her favourite treat, which she has told me many times that she used to make as a young girl after school. I kissed her and hugged her shoulders and left, again, seeing faces I had not seen in years, some ghostly now, others seeming to recognize me as well. Walking out into the sunshine and sliding my sunglasses from the top of my head to cover my eyes, I felt changed. It was a daily, mundane experience, but I was changed by the love of people for the rest of their town that is slowly becoming another town entirely.

like at your home
birds still sing at your window
sanctuary

 

Open letter

Your presence is not required.
I am not the same girl, face down
on the cold floor for relief
not the same needy sycophant
begging for crumbs

Your presence is not requested
at the birthday party for this
newly born woman- not so penurious
as to give nothing back, but not
your problem anymore. My friend

of the east, of the wind and the meadows
showing up out of nowhere with your
five piece one-man-band, and I
with just a knack for getting to the
heart of things, driving you down

Your presence is not required, on your knees.
I won’t demand and deflate
the ego of your youth.
I have my own-and when someone has
got their own, they don’t steal anymore

I have this new path I’m on
mottled with the unknown, and
no map to speak of. Your presence
is not required. But if you would like to join me-
the path stretches far ahead

Ticking

 

Every day I open another door
watching an old one close
turning my head for that moment
hearing the click of the lock
my soul in chains and it is He
who unlocks them-one by one
reminding me I am here
for a greater purpose
everyone hurting – everyone needing
and I have something still to give away

Getting to know my own heart
hiding it even from myself
I get surprised – appalled – scared-
by what oozes out of this organ
the hate and bitterness
the color of death
leaving me now
and I do not look away
at the horror of the decay to my heart
once pulsing and new

So many doors – I get
so easily twisted ’round –
a face from the past
darkening a threshold
confounding me –
what do I really want-
which to choose
and which to board up-
pain when the cells reweave themselves
new life where once was merely debris

It is safe to come out now
as the thunder is less
and the ticking is behind me –
the further I travel down this path
the more I have to learn yet
and I find myself astonished
as I become reacquainted with myself-
loins girded – helmet fastened tight
that others should know me better now
yet you know me less

The fog came across
the hamburger joints and parking lots
and covered our path-
Kicking at clouds
we talked about what we wanted
in 1989. As we walked I said
how I feel no confidence
some days, and he said
‘time will give you confidence,’
But what if my time is short

 

She was a collage

a random spattering of life
over more than one canvas
every do-over leaving a mark

she spread sunshine
unwittingly with her
cutting sense of humour

based mostly on fact
but the ridiculous-ness of it all
made people smile

like a clown, dance for us
make us laugh and dance
and forget the day’s burden

her collage of reds and blacks
and too bright yellows
when she was seeking pure gold

her own heart of gold she did not trust
her thimble-full of hope
she brought out on holidays

Monday is the color of the dishes in my sink

When Monday comes you’ll be doing what you do
what you always do. A productive day
even if you daydream on the way
during drive-through coffee
or heart murmur’d traffic, a world
I left behind, responsible and hectic

Yet, you meet me where I am
in a sink full of dishes that does not end
looking out the window at a world
that is not always a friend
reading books that show me
a thousand worlds

I am not sad – so don’t you feel bad
only keep on covering me
in that sweet veneer
in times like this friendship is dear
when I’m waiting on rain and it just won’t come
brushing my hair with silence instead of a comb

When Monday arrives smelling good in your suit
I’ll be cleaning up from Sunday
and tucking away loot
a dollar in an envelope a fiver in the drawer
under my panties, in my socks
what am I keeping it there for

I’ve got this inclination
call it a whim call it a dream
I’ll check out of here someday
a momentary gleam – of fantasy
and thoughts of luck
and saving every solitary buck

So when I get enough of them
I’ll find contentment
looking like a friend

Extraordinary kindness

approached today
in the midst of clouds and clamour
by my mother(gone since 1997)’s best friend
from long ago

my age now what her age was then
yet I am always a child, the
age of her own daughter
grown, and a grandma now

speaking to me as an equal
saying – let’s be friends like
your mother and I, I believe
we have something in common

melting the cynicism in my center
floating to the surface like dross
her soft voice saying, yes
it’s going to be alright now