like books

I.

I have been reading
books about people
since I was ten. Then —
comprehension expanding — 
growing, to become
understanding of
people like books
since I was twenty.

At thirty, I could find
the villain in the story —
the hero
always a too-pristine-
perfect-caricature
of reality — the bad guy
realistically-real.

At forty, I picked you
off the shelf
of the world, opened
the last page
and started
reading the story
backwards.

II.

Playing at detective,
sifting through
the last pieces of familiar
before they start to fade.

Not so much
sentimental-nostalgic . . .
those people
those days
that life

forever gone – old ghosts
attached to my shoulders.
Muscles strain, dip
under the weight
as old smiles fade.

When the answers come
I will be
too old to live them.

I carry this
fatalistic understanding
tossed over my shoulder,
held tight like books,
in a coarse-woven rucksack. 

~Winter 2011

 

 

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the type of man sex came to possess

~for MG

I thought of sex
when I first met you —
deep strides, dapper dress,
piercing eyes —
it all resonated, a chill shiver
down the depth of me &
warmth spreading deeper
with my crimson thoughts
because you are the type of man
sex came to possess,
own — carry
into closed rooms, silk beds.

The glass of wine
sparkling amber, glass bubbles
move in the glass,
the world rattles on around us
while your words fall
on the table between us
and then,
I am stunned
by the words, their rich
deep colors, meanings
moving into an acid-like Trip
in my brain. Stunned!

You have amazed me!
My words turn
around, crawl back down
into the velvet parts of me

as I realize
what you don’t –
I am too naive for this
conversation. Too distracted
with the thought of undressing
you to understand beyond lust.

Why do your words
keep spilling down, around, rolling
across the table, tumbling
to the floor
to lay like marbles
on the gleaming wood?

~April 2012 

At Night the Wind Died

The summer day was spoiled with fitful storm;
At night the wind died and the soft rain dropped;
With lulling murmur, and the air was warm,
And all the tumult and the trouble stopped.

~~Celia Thaxter,The Nestling Swallows.

It is almost midnight and the house is quiet. Michael went to bed hours ago and left Boo-Boo the cat with his chair. Taz, my Cocker Spaniel, is sleeping on my feet while Lex, my Lab, claims the rug near the Christmas Tree. Even Mr. Jitters, the rabbit,  is sleeping silent in his cage.

This is an exquisitely beautiful moment to me.  I adore this quiet peace in the dark of night when all the noise of daily living settles hushed for a few hours. I can feel my heartbeat start to slow and my stress-level begin to ease. I am able to breathe in the calmer essence of true life in this time of whispered darkness. I am uncommonly whole and content as I think about Christmas and my family.

I am looking forward to Christmas Day after a month of chaos and fatigue. My children, their spouses, and all four grandchildren will be here. My siblings plan to come if possible. I’m the eldest of four and it is seldom that we all get together. We’ve each had our own spouses, children and work schedules to contend with for years now. I hope both my brothers are able to come – if so, that makes four, and it will be our first Christmas spent together in many, long years.

Time has a way of slipping past you while you’re busy with the act of living. I love my sister and brothers dearly, but have not been as good about showing it in recent years. Sadly, the lack of attentiveness toward them is due to my flighty nature and isolationist behavior. It isn’t due to lack of love or caring for them. I just tend to get lost in me and whatever mission or project has captured my passion – the next thing I know, five years, ten years have passed. It’s an odd quirk of my personality that I recognize without knowing how to mend. (I tend to think it’s just some strange artist thing!) All the while, time moves without mercy and we all grow older and more distant from one another.

I can still remember the first time I looked into the crib at my brother, David. In memory he is the little kid arguing with me and my sister over which cartoons to watch each day at four o’clock; and then the pre-teen who went with us on vacation to Florida; and then the teenager outrunning the cops in his newest hot-rod down the back dirt roads of town – laughing and bragging, and doing it just because he could! He suffered through endless hours of  “playing school” with me and my sister before he ever started kindergarten (but, he has always been extremely smart). He was a sweet, smart, good-natured kid that was kind to everyone around him. I can still see him riding around town with my aunt and uncle, especially during his fluffy–80’s hairdo period, laughing and joking. He is now a grown man in his 30’s, with three grown children, a wonderful wife, and his own trucking company. I am very proud of him, of how intelligent he is, and his determination to make his way in the world on his terms.

My Brothers & Sister: David, Mandi, and Chris

My baby brother, Chris, is even younger. I can still see him sleeping in his crib, covered in chicken-pox spots. Such a sweet baby, so sick, and yet dealing with the pain and “feel bad” without very much screaming and crying. I held him, changed diapers, played “little mama” to him  for a time before I got married.  I remember him as that cute baby, as the little bright-eyed child who wanted to hold my babies when they were born, as the teenager who hand-made me a writing desk, and as an older teen and young adult going through his rough patches like the rest of us. He’s had more than his share of hard times, and, like his oldest sister, is usually his own worst enemy. He’s doing great in his life now though – he has a wonderful fiance that truly loves him and a wonderful son. Chris has been strong and courageous, doggedly fighting his way through the dark days into the sunny ones.  I’m very proud of who he’s become and all that he’s accomplished.

My sister, Mandi, is definitely coming for Christmas dinner. We’re close in age and have a unique bond that can only be called sisterhood. We have fought and hated each other with a passion through the years, but that was just the negative, childish side of the great love we feel for one another. We are as opposite as night and day, but exist together as the moon and sun. We would be lost if the other one wasn’t there. I have been given a rare gift in my sister that I thank God for often – she is the one person on earth who I trust with all my heart. I know that she has always and will always be a person who will love me and help me no matter what happens. I hope she knows she has that same gift in me. We will always be those little girls playing dress up and wearing high-heels to school without permission, the person on the other end of the phone when one of us needs to celebrate or cry, the one holding onto the rope that binds us during terrible fears and periods of pain…never letting go.

It’s amazing how much your vision changes in 30 years. I used to get so fed-up with being the “oldest” when we were growing up. It always meant looking after the “younger ones”  and taking care of them while mom and dad were at work or busy.  And the answer to “why” was always because you’re the oldest – I thought it was a pretty unfair punishment back in the day! Yet, here we are, thirty years later and the “younger ones” are all grown up. I sit here in the quiet darkness, sift through the memories from all those years ago, consider the good people my siblings have turned out to be and I realize how blessed I have been. I am grateful now for those times: the fun and the fights, the aggravation and the sharing, the craziness and the sanity. I am very proud of the people they’ve all become and I feel privileged to have watched it and been a part of it from the beginning. Merry Christmas Mandi, David, and Chris. I love you!






Epiphany 1

May 2010 (in retrospect)

 

There was a moment when

your eyes changed – shifted

from bright sparkling blue to

darker, deeper blue – liquid

crystals of light dancing. Shift,

movement, reflection. Time

stopped flowing, the moment

lasted forever — before you

shielded your gaze, downcast

lashes fluttering portals closed.

There was a moment when

sound stopped – shifted

to quiet inside my heart

and I knew pain burned

the future — blazing fire

consuming, rolling, turning

into the end coming quickly

before I — shielded my gaze

lashes fluttering portals closed.

There was a moment when

truth interrupted — before our

lashes fluttering portals closed.

Wolves at Battle

The Story of Two Wolves (from Ego Dialogues )

A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”

“One wolf is evil and ugly: He is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance.”


“The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep VISION.”


“This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other human as well.”

The grandson paused in deep reflection because of what his grandfather had just said.
Then he finally asked: “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The elder Cherokee replied, “The wolf that you feed.”

I was talking with a co-worker this week about the works of Einstein – about a book I’m reading about his life and how his thinking developed into what became a new realm of understanding in Physics. My co-worker, an ex-attorney and current car salesman, kept giving me a mind-boggled look as if to say, “Why the hell would a car saleslady be so into physics? It just doesn’t mesh.” That odd look from people is common and normal to me now. I don’t really think much about it…why? Because I’ve come to believe in the unique complexity, the abstract opposites and elements of duality that exist in people…all people, including myself.

The people I meet no longer fit neatly into categories and sub-categories as they once did. When I was twenty it was easier. My thinking was simpler then…like the child of five…people were good or bad, mean or nice, happy or unhappy. Life has changed me, my thoughts, and my perceptions of others beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Most of the people I meet are an easily read book – compilations of various chapters and verses, mixtures of traits and opposing habits that fall outside of easy one-dimensional definitions. There are those who behave badly in general, but have a deep capacity for kindness and gentleness to those they love. There are those who are generally kind and easy to get along with, but are cruel and vicious to those most helpless and close to them. A very bad man in the eyes of many once lay next to me and told me what a good man he knew he was – there was equal truth in both observations. The mirrors around us reflect who we are in various moments – good and bad, angry and calm, broken and strong. The truth is not usually which or the other but both. Human beings are an odd mixture of duality.

So, you’re asking, where are you going with this? Well, it occurs to me that, like the parable above demonstrates, we often forget that both wolves exist within us. The story of the two wolves is really the story of being human. I like the image of the wolves for its simplicity – the wolves are always present together, always fighting, each one jostling for the top spot, seeking to be the one in control. “Which one will win?” It’s the age-old question, isn’t it? What side of us will triumph? What side of us is stronger? Truly, the answer is just so simple, isn’t it…which side are we feeding? The wolf we nourish is the wolf that leads…the winner has been fed, and fed, and fed…we have given him nourishment while the other wolf dissipates, grows weak and weary, as starvation sets in.

And then there’s the one final obscure thought that hits me: It’s only natural to want to live, survive, be in control, be the stronger of the two. Neither wolf dies easily.

Traveling Angels

A Story from Ego Dialogues  (www.egodialogues.com)

Two Traveling Angels (author unknown)

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole on the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied…”Things aren’t always what they seem”. The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest.

When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel “how could you have let this happen!? The first man had everything, yet you helped him,” she accused. “The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die.”

“Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave her the cow instead. Things aren’t what they seem.” Sometimes that’s exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way they should.