Change, Creativity, Poetry, spirit

In Defiance of Morning

Wangechi Mutu, Riding Death in my Sleep

You catalogue the early shames,
a tattoo on the lining of your lungs.
The mural leaves its stain despite the stretch
and growth you chart first on door frames
then belt notches
then monthly statements,
each unit of measure distorting the fresco
as much as the measurement taken.
Recognizable no matter the eons intervening,
the arcs of those stories.
Petroglyphs,
kaleidoscopes,
crime scenes,
autopsies.

All tales have tongues.
They scour the natal down
from your heart. They leave a taste
like pennies and char.

Continue reading “In Defiance of Morning”

Letting Go, Outdoors, Poetry

The First Walk After Goodbye

pregnant_lightning_bug

The trees are stage set,
a Las Vegas cabaret
on this suburban strip.
Lightning bugs in their drunken throb
dip and tumble
loose as the purple rope
of night falls
open. They couldn’t care less
who lurks here gaping
at their naked hunger.

Oblivious to the shape of you
emptying out of me,
they fill it the way they do
every hollow place, the way light
always does
but for just that blink
no matter how long we want it
bright and no matter how tight
we seal the lid. It goes out
again, a strobe
pulse, a chemical
flash burning to photon
guttering to black
before we can pin it in place
on this map of shadows.

Somehow the flicker
is enough, more
than enough, each firefly’s rutting
insistence a fizz that tickles full
the belly like sky
even with all that air
between each burst of light.


Image: Wolfepaw, “Pregnant Lightning Bug” at Deviant Art

Change, Poetry, Relationships, Things I Can

85. Things I Can Hold: The Promise

Honeysuckle Tag

Months after the last blossom
wilts and lets go, a tendril
of scent unfurls
among the parched weeds
and knotted shrubs edging
the broken road.
Only at night the perfume steals
out to stretch its cramped
wings and lean
into the hum
of cricket’s legs
and streetlamps. It will be gone
by sunrise, tucked
under winter straw
that falls in summer, swathing
thirst and throb in a jacket
of silence.

Fitness, Poetry, Things I Can

54. Things I Can Pamper: This Flagging Frame

It is 10 minutes past 10 on the first night of summer. The boy is asleep. The dryer bumps and tumbles, smoothing our wardrobe for the trip ahead.

The computer at work is powered off for the week. Tasks huddle in their restive limbo behind that dark office door.

Here, crumbs dust the counter.
Free weights squat in the corner.
A story cocoons between silent covers.

This body is so weary.

Rain came then went again. On the dark balcony, pepper leaves sip at the sky. Petals curl into sleep.

Tonight, for once,
I turn from the eternally unfinished
everything.

I turn off the light.

At long last, sleep draws closed the curtains
and tucks me into her blue
furred throat.
 

 

Living in the Moment, Outdoors, Things I Can

45. Things I Can Catch: Night Light

Four days of rain. Then an afternoon storm, a morning threat, and another downpour. A week of this at least. We lose count. We pack away the idle swimsuits and slog through every errand with an extra umbrella in the passenger seat.

Floorboards buckle up from slab. The door swells, resisting its jamb’s unyielding corset. Tiny ants breach the cinnamon fortress and try to escape into the pages of books, the weave of the carpet, any island in this ever-expanding gulf of damp. On the balcony, the cilantro and parsley bolt then shrivel. The snow peas, drunk and throbbing just days ago, now droop from bleached stems.

Even the bedsheets offer no relief. An invisible film binds leg, thigh, cheek, lashing us against the dark wash of dreams.

Before another futile attempt at sleep, I must go out. I take the dog. The sky is taking a breath so we hop over a thousand small pools and wind our way past the jungle gym and the swingset. We climb through the creeping vine tunnel and slip out beyond the lamplit warren of our neighborhood.

Out there is field, shadow, the traffic plunging below the horizon in a steady aquatic hush. The first lightning bug shines its beacon low across the brambles.

A honeysuckle mist clings to the remains of the equinox, lingering like spider silk long after its source has taken leave.

Thunder miles off growls across the distance, flashing its tail, baring its blunt teeth.

Home, Things I Can

35. Things I Can Put Away: The Weekend’s Haul

The absence of television is my secret indulgence. The house, silent, throbs with stored energy. Even the ambient nothing is saturated with sound and light.

The night is mine to claim or spurn. I have relinquished the service of intermediaries.

Tonight, my boy wanted pupusas for dinner. I’ve never eaten one, let alone prepared one. No matter. On my lunch break today, I popped over to the supermarket for masa harina.

We weren’t 30 seconds in the door before Bug raced off on his scooter with the neighbor kids. I cranked the music and heated the skillet. Wet cormeal, caked hands, cheese, oil. Mash and spatter, the warm scent rising.

Bug came back flushed and hungry. He downed four and told me, “Pupusas are a hit.”

Now, he is in bed running the twilight battle soundtrack, fighting off sleep with jet engines and exploding artillery. I move through the house as laundry churns and dishes dry in the rack. The dog awaits her nighttime walk. The lunches are packed, the plants sated.

Next to my bed is the red bag left from Sunday. After the 5K, my Mister and I wandered through town. In the garden behind an elementary school, we parked ourselves with our compostable takeout containers of eggs and greens. Full and sunned, we strolled down the main strip. A ruckus at the library checked our progress. Crowds, umbrellas, noise. Curious for a Sunday.

The lady at the door told us the bag was $5, and it was our ticket in. We handed her a bill and she offered up a shopping tote. We could fill it. These were the weekend book sale’s all-you-can-haul final hours. We elbowed our way through hordes of neighbors and pawed through the leavings. Children’s fiction by Ursula LaGuin, The Black Stallion, one for me by the author of The Lovely Bones. An investigation of Shakespeare’s missing folios. The Golden Compass (two copies, it turns out — I must have been eager). A treatment on writing memoirs. A stack of rough-skinned novels by women, a few fat beach reads with “murder” in the title.

The spines bit at the seams and at My Mister’s back, yet everything and everyone made it home intact.

For the past five days, the sack has been sitting unsorted on the floor of my room. Tonight, as Bug winds down and a May breeze sidles through the screens, I sit on the carpet and dump my treasures. I pull from my shelves the pieces I have no need to keep. A few dimestore mysteries, a couple of salacious works of pop journalism. Those go into my backpack for campus the book drive. The new ones, I slide into the gaps left behind, righting the spines and checking that all neighbors are compatible enough to coexist at least for the short term.

The hardback volume on the voiceless boy, I set aside. It goes onto my bedside table to keep Cervantes company. It might be what carries me off to sleep tonight.

The red bag is folded now and stashed with the other grocery totes in my kitchen. The washing machine has finished clanging and spinning. The dog has settled in her crate.

In my son’s bedroom, I hear pages flutter then thump to the floor.

The house is silent.

The night is mine.

This is nothing like alone.

Letting Go, Poetry

Done Enough

It starts to rain at midnight.
A spider takes refuge in the corner
by the window. Water is the last thing
We need around here.

I stack plates in the dishwasher
To make room
For sleep.

My visitor at the edge
Of the curtain near the bed
Seems neither moved by the arrival
Of tomorrow nor compelled to spin past
The threshold just to catch
The taillights of a south bound
Day dissolving into the horizon line.