“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


i don't know jack about probate, estates, wills, or the difference between an executor and an administrator

i sit waiting for traffic to clear
catawba blossoms christening me,
sliding down the windshield,
skittering across the street,
a different catawba tree reminding me i can go -
from this place, from this neighborhood -
and traffic clears and i do.

i don't know jack about what sells a house
but a realtor says it ain't gray walls,
they need to be more brown,
and in this one-cupcake-shop town,
itself brown with dark tinted windows
(i can say this because no way no how will they see this,
but anyhow it's true and it tells me how much i do not fit in),
i am not surprised,
but i am painting these walls for myself
and i don't do brown.

i don't know jack about how to move forward;
i keep thinking words about something else will appear,
but keep writing the same old same in notebooks,
keep lying to myself that it is better when it's not,
keep feeding the cats, keep showing up to 3 places,
here and there and another there,
keep spending not enough time anywhere,
keep getting nothing done.

this place - right here, this shade under the emma tree -
was the place i came for shelter,
but i have lost the trail.
weeds have covered it over,
and i only find my way here by accident
and when i do, my hands are still empty.
i am holding them out, palms up,
angry that they only fill with tears.

i don't know jack about honeysuckle
or late blooming dogwoods
or red oleanders
or why the turtle wants in the house.

i move us both away from the door.



it is after 5 a.m. and i have been up since before 4

awake since 3:15, giving up on the possibility of sleep and finding a coke, and alan rickman on the tv, giving in to the day starting so early. thinking about words and paint and moving and how scared i remain of it all, but how there is no way out, and trying like crazy to give in to that idea.  i painted this past weekend, painted the dining room and most of the living room - it takes 5 hours to work through a gallon of paint - and the color moves from taupe to lavender to gray; the light is crazy in the space and changes constantly, and i want the color of shimmer on the top of a still lake on a gray day, sunlight just behind the clouds, and am not quite there, but the color i laid upon the walls is a color i can live with and think about for a while, so it will stay.  i laid it on with words spoken aloud, words i won't repeat here for fear of sounding silly, but i spoke to the house, told it my hopes and dreams for it, wanted it to know, and the brushstrokes were the meditation i knew they would be - no music, no tv, just me and paint and skye the cat wandering in and out of the open doors - and the day was just about perfect.  the house sang back to me, i could feel it hum with happiness.  but that was saturday and it is wednesday morning and fears have crept back and awakened me, as fears always do, they always do, and so i fight them off with words, with the memory of a singing house waiting to be filled with joy, waiting for the finish line to be crossed, waiting for it to be done and me moved in, waiting to embrace me, and that helps. 

just a little - it is still early
and i am a slow waker.
the days, however, are long,
and on my side.



the fingerprints of a house

there is something very shroud of turin about this place on the wall, where once upon a time there hung plates painted with fairy tales, one above another on an oh-so-curvy display rack; once in their place, there they stayed. 

there are painters in the house, the ceiling in my future studio/library is already white, the bedroom ceilings almost done; money enough for ceilings only, leaving walls to me, but that is just fine, more than fine, in fact, it is what i needed to at last see.  space.  room.  the house is almost empty if you don't count the kitchen, and i will whisper to you here that i have my doubts that it will ever be empty; it is where i keep stacking stuff and where my brother keeps cooking, although he is now under orders to stop, but it also the place where my other brother discovered how to open the kitchen window - an allen wrench is the knob and you turn it in the wrong direction and voila! 2 outside panes open upward.  it is the funniest window i've ever seen and is at last open after who knows how many years, but i could not imagine standing at the kitchen sink always facing a closed window, or frying okra with the window not open - it just seemed wrong, and bad kitchen juju.

and the turtles are out and about, or are they terrapins? i have no clue, but one has a beautiful orange neck with tattoos of some kind, and keeps eyeing the fence looking for a way out, and i have no idea what to do with him.  or her.  he/she wanders around the fig tree and nibbles leaves and i admit to nestling a depression glass berry bowl into the ground and filling it with water because i have no idea what else to do.  i will have to learn.  one of the painters found another turtle in the garage and when she told me, i remembered my mother would block the entrance with an old, torn fireplace screen - the cat can get in and out, but turtles?  no.  and so the fireplace screen is back in place - i'd almost tossed it, but something stilled my hand.

this place has its fingerprints.  i will paint the walls and change the floors and move the air around, but its fingerprints and shadows will not change.  beneath a new coat of paint will always be those oh-so-curvy reminders of what was, of how it got to be who it is.  i'd forgotten the secrets houses hold - i haven't moved in a long time. 

as i change it, it will change me, 
but the fig tree still figs,
the turtles still turtle,
and i have a feeling that no matter how many blue and white flowers i plant,
a golden or red blossom will still make its way up every spring. 
a reminder. 
a surprise.



it is sunday, it is april

and i have missed the month of march.

but my mother's backyard, soon to be mine for a while, is full of dogwood blossoms and pink azaleas, and a fig tree laden with leaves, and yesterday spring blew in through opened doors and windows and at last, at last, skye the cat moved from her perch on the back of my mother's couch to lay next to me, just one paw out to touch me, both of us baby stepping our way through this change.  this couch will be the last of things to go, it gives her something to hide beneath while glassware is packed and cupboards emptied and appliances disappeared; she is confused by no refrigerator, a favorite perching spot gone, and yesterday when a man came by to look at my mother's car, she stood on the front porch, meowing and confused.  but forward we move, and today is sunday, and it is april, and there is a baseball game in arlington awaiting me, a day off, some hours away from all of this too-much-change. 

we are almost there, almost ready for carpet to come up, almost ready for painting to begin - ceilings first - and i have pushed back my move time a couple of weeks.  sometime in may, and the summer will be upon us as skye and i settle in to this new relationship, this will-be new space.  she will have a different couch, but i will still be on it, pink toenails and all.