the signature of being

here we are

atop the summit

astride a wide field

with woven baskets

swinging on our arms

for the gleaning;

we are open containers

waiting for the gloaming.

it has been a long climb.

the geese know.

we approach a firefly

with quiet reverence;

we cup it in our hands

and feel the prayer.

we have been here before:

it is the signature of being.

 

~for my daughter on her 18th birthday~

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one way ticket

i stood there at that bus stop

on the hill,

waiting:

book in hand,

reading about the galapagos islands

and a sailor turned poet

who almost crashed into them.

next to me a tree bloomed into a fence;

i didn’t know its name.

i stood there at that crossroads,

wanting:

a purpose,

a heading,

a sign,

a job.

it feels so long ago now.

but i felt the most alive then:

deep in that despair—with an edge of hope.

i knew somehow it would all work out.

i knew we would be ok.

but the desperation sharpened something in me

that will never be the same.

 

meet hope

my heart is full.

 

coming back on a high note,

a wave, something that’s still moving.

 

“change is good for me, mom,”

she says.

 

i know what she means. it isn’t

easy; but it’s good.

 

we take the green for granted,

all around us, all the time.

 

it reminds us to keep growing.

 

we are going to keep going.

we are not backing, breaking down.

 

we put our feet in the rushing tide, in the sand.

she runs around like a little girl—under the night sky,

 

on the edge of the world.

 

there is no moon, but we keep looking for it—expecting it

to pop up right at our feet.

 

it’s that kind of night.

 

we go out to the place where we can feel,

and meet hope.

 

going to seed

the world is full of levers

waiting to be pulled,

things waiting to be moved.

 

the levers can be hard to find.

since they’re invisible, you have to

bump into one to know it’s there.

 

they are long arms, reaching out

like the low boughs of a wise old tree.

many are on the edge of steep hills.

 

to get there, you have to breathe hard.

you have to feel as if you might die.

you pass many wry flowers along the way.

 

they nod as you pass; they are going to seed.

they ask nothing of you but to look

and take note and see your future.

 

you take step after step up the incline;

you wish you were a fish, even going upstream.

you wish you had gills, a long muscle for a body.

 

you are losing air; you are wheezing.

you feel the butterfly in your throat swelling.

it is not easy dwelling on land.

 

you pass many remnants:

broken houses, rusted fences, crippled farm equipment.

a fish out of water, indeed.

 

dreams of mother, father, child, lover follow you up the hill.

they trail behind you like a long ribbon of frames.

all your arms together reach out for the lever—and pull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

real heroes

a guy named barry at cvs keeps

calling me love, looks at my id and says,

 

don’t worry; you still look good.

i know he’s messing with me, but i

 

just want to get my wine and toilet

paper and go home. it’s the same

 

guy that tried messing with my girl

last week. i feel like i should make a

 

scene, but i don’t. i think the words

me too as i angrily shift away.

 

religion claims to save you from

the abyss, but religion is the abyss.

 

thank the gods for the creatives;

oh how we need the creatives.

 

we came out of the beautiful black

water—wet and fresh and squeaking:

 

a bull’s eye in the midst of the

mess. babies don’t have to care.

 

years later, i’m wearing my suit of

wet clay; i’m swinging my rudder

 

to wide extremes across a wide sea.

at the end of the journey, it’s just me.

 

i can feel the light shedding;

i can feel the need to flee.

 

real heroes don’t

feel like heroes

 

 

we will have words

there’s no room in my life

for new men; because the old

 

ones keep creeping in.

at night, they get the lay

 

of the land. still, after all

this time—they inhabit the

 

dreams of both body and

mind. every now and then

 

a new man will arrive on

the scene: in real life.

 

a good man. a man who

makes me feel alive.

 

we will have words;

so help me god.

 

we will have a new life,

a new touch, a clean rain.

 

and i will be reminded:

you are not your pain.

snap shot 4

“I’m in trouble.”

She woke with these words in her mind, almost on her tongue. She wasn’t sure if the words were spawned by her feeling of despair upon facing another day with the chronic aches and pains (some inhabiting her body, and others visiting from an unknown place) and still no answers—or if they had been triggered by the random patchwork of dreams from the night: her wedding to an old love, her pregnancy by an ex-husband, her strange reunion with an old friend.

At least she was human in these dreams. And, lately, sometimes Kevin Arnold. She smirked at this, at the knowledge of the television world seeping into her reality—of her growing dependence on nostalgic shows to help escape from what felt like a dying garden. There was still beauty—all around—and some soil, and some water, and a little cold sun, and a few people wandering about; but there was also the nagging feeling of death, of things being slowly starved and shriveled, of other things sprouting oddities and twisting off in the wrong direction.

Lee often tried to be optimistic. Not quite cheerful (that emotion typically surfaced only when buzzed or caught up in a love balloon), but grounded in a larger picture of herself and this life—stabilized by an ever-present, irritating really, knowledge that things would somehow work out, would somehow be okay. She had felt this stoicism from her father, this cautious confidence. But lately she could feel herself slipping, her knowledge fading, her hope becoming heavy under the weight of loneliness, age, teenage cynicism, doubt, and now—injury.

Leonard Cohen knew. And he knew that everyone else knew, too. This life was unbearable, harsh, cruel even. And yet, startling in its beauty and unpredictable kindness. Navigating between these two extremes was a heroic, gymnastic effort which exhausted the trifecta of mind, body, and soul. No wonder she could barely get out of bed some days.

Some of her friends were tired of hearing about it. She didn’t have as many friends because of it, and usually she was relieved by this. It meant less expectation, less energy, less investment. But the reverse was also true: fewer people were invested in her. Less energy was being tossed her way. She knew her readers would also become impatient eventually—especially if she didn’t throw in a love scene soon. At least some suggestive dialogue. She laughed out loud as she struggled to stand.

“Love waits for no man.”

She thought of all the love that was happening all around her—and of her own small doses being exchanged within this house, and without. Within this world, and without. There were so many different types of love, and she would be damned if she was going to let herself get caught up in one or two tiny definitions. And anyway, was it love that waits for no man? Or time? Were they one in the same? She pictured a wild time-love horse charging away into the tide without its rider.

After all this thinking, Lee became tired. Coffee was up next, with a side of berry yogurt to cushion the belly against the delicious acid. What came after that was a new hope in the form of a phone call. There was a treatment for her broken foot, and she had been approved for it. A new path—beginning next week. She would throw everything she had into this hope.

She thought about her fear of surgery, and wondered if it was related to her other fears. She would not name them just yet. She would not give them credence. Instead, she would spend days, weeks—months even—trying on yet another opinion about how her life could be improved.