“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


but then again, some things stay the same

remember the speech about baseball in field of dreams?  the one where james earl jones' character is explaining about the constancy of baseball?

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.
America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.
It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again.
But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game, is part of our past, Ray.
It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again . . ."

baseball changes every year - sometimes the yankees don't win - but the game is mostly the same, the important parts have stayed the same, and we are reminded of the times that were while we are in the middle of the now, and we bless those hours spent under the sun or in front of the television under air conditioning beating away the summer heat.  in the bad times the constants are our comforts, in the good times they are old friends and we are just hanging out, spending some time. 

sometimes the constant is a movie we watch and rewatch, a book whose pages we flip through once again.  we are there in the past and we are here in the present and it holds us close and still for the time we need.  lord of the rings, all 3 parts back to back, will do that for me.  anne of green gables, all the books right in a row.  and this year, a new constant.  sex and the city.

after my mother died, i would go by her house on the weekends to pack or clean a little, to keep skye the cat company, and one weekend i found a sex and the city marathon on tv.  all day.  all the way up to the last best episode where she wears that fabulous blue dress and big saves the day, and it was the perfect background noise.  i knew all the lines already, all the clothes, all the shoes, no surprises in store, and i could sit down and watch an episode when i needed a break.  by the time that last episode came on, i was done, exhausted, and i sprawled on my mother's couch and i was in paris with carrie and brooklyn with miranda and happy happy to be in both places.

the next weekend they did it again.  another marathon.  another day spent with no surprises and lots of cosmopolitans and wondering if people in new york could really get away with dressing like that.  it was wonderful and i blessed the powers that be.

yesterday i was 4 days into 4 days off and they did it again.  so i spent the day doing nothing but laundry and watching tv and it was the very best day off of all.  this time at my house with skye the cat on my couch, this time the memories of the show including memories of mother's house.  like baseball, changed but mostly the same.  the important parts were still there - carrie still found her necklace and she still wore that dress.  it was fabulous.



the chill of a small fever

it's windy out there and there are more pears on the pear tree than i've seen in years, and less squirrels stealing them.  the grass is twinkling with sunlight flashing on and off behind the leaves and my arms and legs are goosebumpy with the chill of a small fever - on again, off again like the sunlight.  it is nothing but allergies, it will pass, and i may even float in the lake come early evening, but i may not.  there is nowhere i have to be, nothing i have to do, no one i have to call. 

yesterday my mother was 3 months gone; the lovely lovely katie and i spent the day in dallas and as i sat over a bowl of strawberries in a small restaurant i found myself pushing against that old feeling of needing to get home and call, to check, to see if everything was okay. it is a new freedom, an unwanted freedom whose boundaries i've not yet learned - if indeed it has any boundaries.  this morning i felt myself rushing against who knows what, feeling i needed to hurry if i wanted to go to the lake, though everyone is out of town and there is no clock to pay any mind.  there is a bit of texas heat out there and, like i said, it is windy, and i am slightly fever-y and there is a book keeping me company, and the lake will be there all summer, and even if not, well, then, not.  the summer comes anyway.

another texas summer.  with long, hot weekends sprawled before me.  i feel only slightly tethered to the life that was mine, to the me that used to be.  the familiar is different - there is a different cat breathing in the space where maggie used to breath and the chairs where maggie laid are ignored, higher perches preferred.  my mother's phone number is no longer anyone's number, there are new neighbors on the corner across the street, and there are more pears.  the early morning wind blew a limb down from the tree outside a bedroom window and now more sunlight falls across my bed.

another summer, unlike any before.
i was foolish to think things would be the same.



the shapes of shadows

at night the leaves on the trees cast shadows shaped like birds in flight,
silent birds slipping through the darkness to the places of their dreams. 

in the late twilight unseen birds sit on tree limbs
and sing down the sun,
sing the nighttime up around us,
until sleep calls them and they slip away to those dreams,
betrayed only by the shadows they leave behind, 
returning in early morning,
their dreams singing us the sun.

at night the words i write cast shadows shaped like unanswered questions,
unasked questions, words unspoken, regrets,
a clock ticking to the wrong time;
they hide on the pages until day breaks across them
and their shadows disappear,
 returning in darkness
to the sound of wings in the night.



a new song in the air

i almost took down yesterday's post.  it felt like cheating.  felt like i was just filling space, looking for distractions and pretty pictures and i almost took it down, thought it didn't quite ring true though it was a true story and about truth in a vague kind of way.  but i left it up because the more i thought about it, the truthier it felt.  because life is like that - about figuring out where you are, feeling your way through the new place you now occupy (and we are always in a new place, always shedding old skins and habits and beliefs), and sometimes that new place is a little scary, sometimes it is a lot scary, and we take a step back, we look for the familiar, look for the secure, find our scent where we left it.  sometimes, however, we are okay with the new; we rub up against it, leaving markers to tell us we've passed this way before, making us braver the next time we pass, telling us we can go even farther.  we find our way into our new lives.  yesterday was a small rest, my scent on blue hydrangeas and memories of mary, the peace of the neighborhood the way it used to be.  today there is a new bird in the hackberry tree, marking its place with a new song in the air.  i and the trees will remember.



i like they way they are tied in knots

a belly button there in their middles,
and i like they way they're not here for very long.
you have to look quick or you'll miss them;
you'll have to wait until next year.

once-upon-a-time mary across the street
would soak them in ice water ~
she'd be up early in the morning picking them for me.
she'd soak them face down in bowls of cold water
and call me when she knew i was awake,
tell me she had a gift for me.
we would lay them in water in a low white bowl
and i would place them on the trunk at the foot of my bed.
and they would last.

true things always do.



like wild birds easily gone

it had rained the night before, that would be thursday, and most of the puddles were gone, save this one, this little heart i caught from the corner of my eye as i headed to the jeep yesterday and then home again, home again, jiggety jog.  i'd parked out front in one of the old too-small parking spaces from 50 or 60 years ago, the cracked concrete testament to time and weather and too heavy trucks, and like i said, i just barely saw it, a tiny glimmer to my left, a heart waiting to be found.  i walked closer and it disappeared, fading away like a heat mirage on hot asphalt, like true love, like wild birds easily gone.  sacred things all, i think, even that heat mirage, all saying move slowly, appreciate, pay attention, stay in this moment, see.  see.  breathe.  say a prayer of gratitude.  another baby step forward and perhaps the bird will land on your hand, perhaps love will make that scary leap, perhaps the puddle will remain a heart that only you will see. 

 it did. 
and i saw. 
a gift.



hidden things

her diaries smell like cigarettes.
she wrote the details of her nights and days,
the small things wafting upwards in those spirals of smoke.
she used cheap ball point pens -
the names of lumber companies or prescription drugs printed on their sides -
and clearance notebooks or unused diaries from years past,
the dates all wrong,
crossed out with the ink from those pens and her need to say it all out loud. 

i buy moleskines and agonize over the pen to use for morning pages,
and my  diaries will smell like fear and green tea in years to come,
but the saying of things out loud is not a luxury and the ink doesn't matter;
i use blue spiral notebooks for the real stuff,
words crossed out, messes made, my heart opened up.
more than a peek inside my soul.

if a tornado lands and blows them a hundred miles,
the landscape will be strewn with truths and i will at last be free.


this poem appears as part of  July 2012's Third Sunday Blog Carnival,
a wonderful spot featuring writers of all stripes and help for us all.
i am more than pleased to be there and recommend you check it out.  



my house of skye and shadows

it is a rite of passage if you stay in my house, this posing with the morning shadows, and if you're skye the cat and you can see into mirrors, you can also play with shadows.  they are real as you are real and we are all together.  and we are, and i will talk about the circumstances of all this togetherness another time, but for now just know that she is here, inside wanting outside, but happy, and who knows what the next step will be?  we certainly never saw this coming.  she is buying me time and curled against me as i type these words and the television is on with the sound off and it feels like home sweet home.