wish

 

the night music plays

as blades come and go.

 

far from the shore, the crowd,

one pair pirouettes—

 

drills down.

 

at the coldest point of the year,

when the thick ice has lain down

 

its frozen arms for miles,

far beneath the creaking layers,

 

my heart leaps at your joy.

 

i am also alone, but buried by winter.

i am a knot in the dark:

 

deeper than a river,

and stiller.

 

i see silhouettes of you—up through the thinnest spots:

the world’s floor; my ceiling.

 

my tiny windows of light

are your risk.

 

i listen for the crack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Empty Nest

It is so quiet. I look around at all the things in the exact same place I left them last night. Nothing is missing from my medicine cabinet, from my bedside table, from my closet. There are no shoes, clothes, or dishes strewn around the room.

Sometimes I forget and think she’s just sleeping in the next room. Sleeping well into the afternoon, like she used to, until I would go stir her awake with a squish or the cat or toasting waffles.

Sometimes it feels like she’s gone for good. Like she has died. And I have to squeeze my arms around my body and tell myself: No, god forbid. She is just gone into her own cave for a time.

I’ve heard the term empty nest for years, and it never really meant much to me. I always thought, if I ever get to the point when she’s ready to leave home, I will be happy in the thought that I did my job, and that she has launched successfully—whatever that means. Hopefully it will mean that she has finally finished school, and we will celebrate!

What I didn’t realize is that after the graduation and celebration and milestone after exciting milestone, it would creep up on me slowly and silently: while folding laundry and realizing it is only my clothes; while washing the dishes only I used; while wandering alone around Marshall’s and wondering why it’s no longer fun to poke through the endless knickknacks; while trying to sleep but waking continually with a void deep inside my body as if I’m missing her presence in my womb.

The feeling is indescribable. It’s the first time you realize deep in your gut how attached you have been to your child; how much of your life has been devoted to bringing her into the world and introducing each to the other; how unsure you are of who you are without her there, inside the nest, pressing up against and under your body.

From the outside, this may seem to some like a desperate dependence or unhealthy reliance. But the feelings I am having—as I sit here looking out the window from this new home I recently acquired to share with my daughter—are feelings of pure love; deep knowledge that I have grown so close to another being that I can feel the body of her absence beside me, against me, within me. And it is a feeling of profound gratitude. Because I know real love is laced with melancholy—with the awareness, but also the transcendence, of the fleeting of time. And because I know she feels the same; I know she carries my presence in and beside and around her every day. We are forever connected. And nothing can ever change that; no one can ever take that away.

 

 

 

a love like that

the rain is falling fast

outside my balcony.

 

i always leave the door

cracked just a bit:

 

you never know what

may need to come in.

 

every time i look out,

the view is different.

 

i want a love like that.

 

change and beauty

in perpetuity;

 

underbellies filling with flowers;

two: traversing eternity.

 

but first, you need to leave the house.

 

as you take on the monster mountain,

your gifts will not fail you.

 

the tree line is true;

she wraps ‘round,

 

she knows the way.

just above, the weather

 

has his say: he could start a storm,

or dissipate into nothing.

 

you need to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rolling

let me know when you’re passing through;

i don’t want to miss you.

 

we’ve already missed so much:

the blue-grey felt, the touch

 

of memory, days spent

punching a clock

 

as if it’s to blame.

how can love be a

 

game of chance? of fate?

an unformed baby falling down

 

basement steps; a balcony door

cracking open.

 

must i attend the funeral

of this fetus?

 

of that which lives in the womb, but

can never be brought into the light?

 

i can’t seem to give up this fight;

i refuse to look, to see what lies in the

 

coffin, fault-lined with orange lanterns:

a deep trick laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain on a Tin Roof

The church on the corner with the red door holds much to be mirrored back. It sprouts, shoots up visceral devotion. There is no shortage. It’s right where she left it all those years ago. She watches from a distance. She likes to be still, quiet. Like a side prop.

This town has her heart; it’s where her daughter was born, amid several things dying and being reborn. She wanders within its mountain walls and wonders who named them all; if every peak has a name; where the ranges begin and end.

When her grandmother was forced to leave her own heart town, she nearly died. And then she did, slowly, over the next five years. The tension between roots and branches—it has always existed.

She thinks about the doctor who delivered her baby, the way he reached right inside her without knowing her: her body, her story—before pushing her legs apart. But he must have caught a glimmer, because after the head and shoulders were out, he said, “Reach down and deliver your baby.” Her tired, strong arms, connected to her capable hands, connected to her knowledge of labor—tucked under those slippery shoulders and pulled just enough to bring the rest of that tiny body to bear. Her beautiful girl.

At that moment, a few people pass through the parking lot: an older couple and, behind them, a tall boy hunched in a hooded jacket. The boy, coming up behind the couple, seems to push past them to get to the door. But then, after pulling on half of that heavy red rectangle, he stands back and holds it open for them in the dripping rain. Her heart thrills at the unexpected; at her own false judgment proven wrong; at the hope inside that hood.

She wants to go in. She wants the boy-man to hold open that red bivalve for her. She wants. She wonders where he came from, what he is holding inside his bulky jacket, whether it is full of contiguous angst. She wants to know how he pursues happiness, what works, what fails, if his earbuds block out the earth noise just enough for him to hear the call: to real self—non-self; to block out the entity that will die soon; to exit the ego that needs, worries, lies awake at night need-worrying.

She knows she will not go in. She will not find the right configuration. But she has come this far, within vision, within reach. Soon it will be time to turn back to her own life, to tend to it like the beautiful garden it truly is—deep down beneath the weeds and marsh and trash and wreckage.

But first she will visit the coast, watch the ships come and go, study the lighthouses to learn how she, over time, became one; that light, that reference point, that anchor; and to understand how—if ever—she is to move on from it. A lighthouse cannot abandon its post; it cannot become a ship, as great as its desire may be to unmoor and move across the sea at will. Too many other ships depend on it, on its steadfastness, its anchored light.

Maybe she is not the lighthouse after all, but its keeper. Maybe she can pass that on to another. How to inhabit a lighthouse for a time, bring it to bear, save a few souls, and then pass it on.

The thought is enough to jolt her upright in her car. She can leave the lighthouse. She can be a ship for a time, if she wants. She can be a buoy. A windowless cabin. A silo. An open bivalve. She can be whatever she wants, needs to be. Except inside that church, on this day. And that’s OK. She starts her engine and drives off into the rain.

Who moved my plane?

The first trick-or-treaters in 15 years are knocking. I’m leaping over several strewn suitcases, holding up a finger, looking for my hidden stash. Ah, the Dove chocolates, mostly gone and partly stale, pass from me to them in unwritten code: costumed children get treats. I’m just glad I didn’t have to resort to the boxed raisins (trick).

Suddenly, I’m in a time machine, clunking about in noise and heft as I grab the wheel with both hands and strain to turn. It is a slow descent. I’m back at the locust house; I see my witch friend barbecuing next door in the dark. ‘We have to stick together,’ she croons over the flames. It’s a complete head fuck and fog. Everything is percolating in the back matter.

The real reason I’m here is to find the underbelly of this machine we call life. I panic about the house with my coffee and wired thoughts. I have to get to the other side of each and every one and then find my way back. I’m not sure which way to go at each intersection. Decision and creation. You can’t have one without the other. I pick a path; I adapt; I pivot; I grow stronger ankles.

Now I’m ambling through the woods past abandoned cabins. I gaze around me at all the nesting places, resting places. I want to stay. I want to fall right into the soft wide bed of the blue foothills. But the runway is calling. It is just beyond those trees.

I see her lines. I am shyly circling them. All around mothers are cheering daughters, themselves. Making, marking time. My thoughts knit a giant yarn ball; I try to separate out the threads, the colors, the patterns. I need to make sense of this soft chaos. I need. I’m a poet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not angry.

I‘m in the parade now, part of the memory and worry. The biohazardy. We are marching. We are camping out on the runway. We are drinking tea and whiskey and wearing ear muffs and watching the sunsets and planes—coming and going.

I’m standing on the asphalt. Between the yellow lines. I’m searching, standing under planes, gazing up at their massively sleek bodies. I can’t find mine. It is strangely quiet. My thoughts are stilled, as if held within a frozen window frame. I am feeling the words: ‘Let fear be your tailwind, not your headwind.’

I am running.  I am stretching out my arms. I am being cheered and guided and lifted. I am . . . flying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

crazy

‘Crazy’ is often associated with love. Crazy for you, crazy in love, head over heels. I think at times you have to be crazy. You have to let go. You have to lose your footing and let yourself float above it all. What do I mean by footing? Grounded- on this earth- in the soil- in the body- aware of the parameters and boundaries; capabilities and limitations.

But we are more than that. We are more than earth. Dust to dust- but with breath. The floating is the breath; the erratic movement is the crazy. Without that, we are just a rock. Don’t get me wrong: rocks are great. They hold up giant landforms and caverns and walls and monuments. They tuck magically into your pocket. They are tossed freely into wells with wishes. But there are limits to a rock. There are limits even to the water that flows over them, to the fish that swim among them, to the bears that lumber across them.

In the air, the atmosphere, it keeps going. It is limitless. Once released from a jar, a vessel, a set of lungs- the air just goes. And if nothing stops it, it dissipates back into source as it reaches the heavens. I don’t know why this would be considered crazy. I guess because our bodies can’t fly — at least not in their current state. And those that think they can … have fallen to their death.

But once we cut our tether, our anchor, our umbilical cord, our solar plexus — we are limitless. We have no need for food or water or even sun. We are the sun. We become the energy in its purest form. Is it so crazy to want to be that? Odorless, tasteless, colorless, radiant light? What do I mean by light? Mystery. Indefinable being. Rushing with abandon. Plundering the galaxy for beauty — and leaving behind even more in its wake: like a vast comet. I don’t know what I mean by any of this, but I like it. I want to be it. I crave the nature of beautiful nothingness. And everythingness.