Allegory

This is the page where we end.
No epilogue to the story, no clear
closure or tying-together the threads.
Only blank pages following last
sentences. Period. A dot
concealing everything.

Enough questions. Answers. Time
the great evening breath, a token
of hours and days ticking
us away. The plot fails —
creates a short fiction,
lacking the intricate depth
needed
to become a book.

March 2011

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A Little Grey Eye Flutters

Gnatcatcher Bird like the one that died.

I came into work Saturday morning to find a little bird laying stunned and hurt on the cement outside the Showroom window. The bird was obviously hurt from flying into the glass panel (a common occurence) but was still holding its head up and moving its wings. It hadn’t died the quick death of a broken neck which is more often the norm. This little bird was still fighting to live, trying to move off the hot cement to the nearby shade of grass and flower beds. I watched it – fighting with myself over what to do. I understood I was going to try to help the bird even though there was little chance of it living.   

I found a clean cloth and gently moved the bird under the shade of the pompous grass at the edge of the flower beds. There wasn’t any blood visible, the wings and neck/head seemed fine, but it appeared to have damaged its legs and tail either in the hit against the glass or the fall to the hard cement. It still seemed stunned – I kept thinking it might be okay in a few minutes. It just needed to rest a minute, catch its breath. Any minute now, it would stand-up and shake-off the hit, straighten its tail, wiggle its feet and take flight…maybe?   

The salespeople walked by without a glance as they spread across the lot to put balloons on all the cars. Then, as they drifted back, each one came to see what I was doing and to ask why I was trying to help the bird. The general consensus was that I was wasting my time because “it’s just gonna die anyway.” I should take it and throw it into the edge of the woods, they said. “It’s not gonna make it.” I knew they were probably right and that everything they said was probably true, but understanding that didn’t make me less inclined to try to help the bird. I understood all the reasons I should walk away, let it go, accept it…but there was a small sliver of hope…maybe it could heal and be okay.   

I went online and read-up on helping injured wild birds, called a local animal shelter, and moved the bird into a makeshift nest of Shammy rags and shredded paper in a large box in my office. I put a small cup of water in the box. He drank from it and then snuggled into the paper pieces and went to sleep. If I could just keep him alive through the night I’d be able to take him to a wild bird care facility. Someone there would know what to do to help him recover. I did my research, followed the advice I’d received, and hoped for a miracle.   

I didn’t get a miracle. He died snuggled and perched in his makeshift nest later in the evening. The hopes and maybe’s didn’t pan out. Sometimes life works that way.   

~~~~~   

I tried to save a bird years ago. I was in first grade and found an injured black-bird outside during recess. I managed to get a box from the janitor and put the bird in it to take home. There I was, sitting in the back of the schoolbus, with a bird in a box and all the other children screaming to see. I made it home with the bird alive and squaking inside the shoebox.  

I don’t remember what was wrong with the bird, only that it was hurt and couldn’t fly. I do remember the anger and upset my grandparents had when I arrived home with the bird though. As I recall, they were very angry that I’d picked the bird up, were amazingly worried about all sorts of diseases I could get, and wanted to know why the teachers allowed me to do such a thing. It was a ruckus beyond anything I could have imagined or expected. I just wanted to help the bird.  

I don’t remember what happened to that bird. My grandpa took it with the promise of helping it for me while my grandmother scrubbed my hands with Clorox. I know…it probably died. But, I’m sure they told me it was okay and flew away…and don’t you NEVER, EVER pick up a bird again!!!  

~~~~~  

I’m sad today over the little gray bird I couldn’t save. It was an adorable and gentle creature. I know that one little bird isn’t a big deal in the real scheme of things…but, maybe it’s a big enough deal.  

I watched a huge, fat Robin sitting on my front porch steps as I drank my coffee this morning. There were dozens of other birds flying around, picking bugs from my flower beds and the yard, and eating birdseed from the feeders at the walkway. Birds everywhere – chirping, tweeting, preening, and singing the morning hello.  

I arrived at work and watched the two families of finchs feeding their babies in the nests under our store awning. There were Gnatcatchers, Wrens, and Pigeons across the side grass lots at the Dealership. More singing, preening, and rambling the lawn. There were birds everywhere this morning, but I kept thinking about the one that was missing. The one that died quietly in the sunset.  

~~~~~  

 Maybe…Hope…Maybe…Life happens…Death is part of life.  

Sometimes we get our miracles. Sometimes we don’t get them. And, sometimes, the miracle is different than we expect it to be…  

Two totally different animals look at each other. A little grey-eye flutters and a green eye meets its gaze. The two animals connect, a moment is shared, they are joined for a split second in time. Hope happens. Compassion happens. Unity happens. For a moment the world shifts . . .  

Maybe that’s the real miracle in the end.

Revenge Served Cold

Excerpt from RAIN: A Collection of Short Stories (1999).

The gentle summer rain danced like poetry across the old tin roof of the trailer. Most of her life had been spent in trailers, or “mobile homes.” It was a fact she despised. It seemed like she would never escape the trailer parks that marked a poor person in the south. She always thought there would be a better time, a time when she’d live in a fancy house on a large, open piece of land. That was the dream inside her brain and heart so many years. The dream that pushed her further and deeper into perfectionism and goal-setting. The dream that, when it failed to materialize, pulled her backward into a spiraling depression unlike any other dark thing she’d even known.

She reached those pinnacles of success at different times. Lived in nicer apartments and even a few houses through the years, but it never seemed to last. There was always some disaster, an unexpected health issue or a job loss, which led her back to the less expensive dwellings and lower-middle-class neighborhoods.

The trailer park was its own special phenomenon. It existed under a thousand different names in a thousand different small towns, but Sasha knew the truth, it was the same creature underneath. You could always count on the basics: a drunk living down the road, rebellious teenagers wreaking destruction on nearby mailboxes, a few pedophiles and peeping toms, angry spats between the neighbors that had slept with one another’s mates, and at least a few old people relegated to the mix, usually without any family that visited – unless there was still some money to be had or a car to borrow.

Sasha (more formally, Sashuanna, an Indian name that no one could manage to pronounce correctly) realized she had become the very stereotype she’d always hated. She was now the 50-year-old, standing on the back porch of a trailer, a cigarette held between her long red nails, wondering how the hell she ended up back where she started. Luckily, she knew the bitterness that came to mind in the vision of the stereotype didn’t really belong to her. At least, not yet. She had a plan. Her lips parted in a half-smile as she thought about the future. This would end…in just a few more days, she’d say goodbye to trailer parks forever.

In dreams awake

Written December 2008

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” – Thoreau

How you have learned to play me, beautiful one.

It was in the first glimmer of green eyes, brightly-lit and seeking that you captured my attention. Sway, roll, movement like a ship undulating on the tide in harbor – a sweet, delicious turning of the mind in ecstasy as each thought creates – tension, heat, vibration, force, tenderness.

Truth hides in the raw, wet, throbbing stream of the mind…In the depths of gray darkness, where dreams come to life and distant voices scream silent wisdom inside shadowed minds – THERE, I heard your voice. Your voice speaking in its soft, deep timbre of melody and vibration near my face, against the creamy flesh of my breast, beside the slow pulse beating in my throat. I could feel your breath against my face as words came flowing like slow, tender water.

Anchored in my gray-dark sleep, I felt your words move into the depth of my hearing, roll across my skin, felt them tumble across my breasts, slip down across my stomach, to slide within the sacred places, sheathed and protected. You were so close in that moment – the warm, moist tremor of your breath across my skin as tender lips trailed…you moved through me as dew across lilies in the early morning hours. Your voice, dear one, woke me from deepest sleep with clarity.