“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


february 28 all the way to now

in autumn a girl's thoughts turn to glitter and trees gone golden and far off red and she is reminded that all things end, all things; it is nine months from the morning her mother died, and this cold november morning welcomes a new person, her bones the branches of an empty fig tree.

i stood in her backyard this weekend, leaves ankle high and shushing my thoughts, 
at 6 weeks, the heart begins to beat in a regular rhythm, 
by 8 weeks i had ghosts of fingerprints and i left them on the walls of her house,
at 2 months, the embryo responds to prodding,  
at 4 months, quickening,
i moved on my own through the beginning of the summer's heat.

flocks of  leaves huddle on the tree limbs, nestless, settling for the night against the wind they cannot defeat, all things end, all things, and she walks away from their emptiness into the warmth of the house.



another november fog

it is the street on which i live and it is
2 novembers ago,
sweet maggie miss magnolia was beside me in the jeep.
enchantment still held sway.

this thanksgiving morning another fog is dripping through the trees
and the birds are silent and no squirrels are about.
it looks much the same.
that tree on the corner is bigger,
there are more leaves on the ground.
the street is tired, faded from the hot hot summer,
more thankful for this fog.
enchantment is hidden out there somewhere,
catching its breath, a second wind,
leaving us to our own magic for a while.

there is a coyote in the neighborhood,
if you turn right at that first street you may see him.
it will have to be late and it will have to be dark
and perhaps he is already gone.
but perhaps he is the beginning.
i hope he has a cigarette and wings.



she really holds her cup like that

we are partners in shopping for pretty.

we talk politics and tony romo and when we want a steak
we settle down in a restaurant and pay for our own.
we don't ask anyone's permission.
we roll our eyes at facebook messiahs
and dance silly happy dances in the aisles of discount stores
when we find the perfect cute cupcake plates.
we watch neighborhood hawks swoop overhead
and we text too much,
and, despairing of the lack of color in this town,
we drive elsewhere.
we love russell crowe
and robert earl keen
and we know when a color is almost right
and we say no to almost.
we have watched lord of the rings a million times
and the devil wears prada,
and we are grateful that martha stewart gets it,
and also apple,
and wish more companies did.
we refuse to buy maroon or burgundy anythings
and never understood the whole missoni target frenzy
because can you say ugly?

we will tell you the truth so don't ask if you don't want to know.

we understand how to run your own business;
we get inventory and employees who call in sick
and overhead and markup
and we vote for the people who understand that we understand.
we love small towns twinkling under christmas lights
and driving the back roads just because,
and we stop where we've never been before.
we have chased the moon
and trespassed
and talked about the men in our lives;
we tell each other their jokes
and complain that they make us laugh when we are mad
but that makes us laugh and we love them even more.

we love boots and shoes with bows on the top
and businesses with cute names
and we wish this town would let us decorate
the downtown square for christmas;
we so understand the magic of the season.  we believe.

we are friends.
and yes, she really hold her cup like that.



a small sunday moment

 we are all stars all the way to the end.
or hearts or moons
or whatever shape we've chosen

an early small moment for the sun, pushing its way past the clouds; just a bit of brightness and then gone again. my front door is open to the november wind and leaves are scattering across the living room floor; the yard is covered with crescent moons fallen to earth, golden golden, the sun still behind those clouds, the sky pale gray,  i'd planned to clean, planned to clear some space for christmas at my house this year, but when i move the furniture, it blocks the light, so things are back to their normal places with space left over for a tree.  it's sunday, and like i said, the front door is open, and windows also, the heat off, leaves flying, squirrels chattering, and i just stepped over a star on the way to the kitchen.  small and brown, but a star still.  




yesterday morning it was a bright yellow heart
still beating
in the emptiness of the catawba tree.

still  there
but still there.
in the bright november sun.

and then not.

i'd meant to take a picture, you know,
but there was a phone call and lateness and a dead battery
and rushing and wind and i 
and it was somewhere in the middle of all that it
fell, i'm sure, with its arms open wide to the journey down.

gone, i thought.
the wind, i thought.  

but no.  
the earth found it, sheltered it. 
one last gift before winter.
one last lesson.
then fly-away



standing on the edge of rain and 3rd base

me again on the edge again
toes just this side of being
wasting time dithering 
wondering looking at clouds
looking for clues in the splash of raindrops
finding faces in the spaces missed.
a reindeer is ready to get this party
but i agonize question compare second guess change my mind
rethink hesitate slow dance 
when i should shimmy like spinning moonbeams disco balls falling glitter.
i look for dancesteps painted along my darkened path
you put your left foot in
breadcrumbs dropped to the rhythm of the night
you take your left foot out
i shuffle stumble trip fall skin my knees hit my funnybone
you put your left foot in
and i am off the path off the wagon into the world into the arms of the
waiting universe where have i been all this time?
and you shake it all about
my toes are in across the line safe on third and i am off the bag too far 
at last
there is only one out i am thinking squeeze play
and in my mind i am suddenly still quiet eye on the ball peaceful
going alpha
you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around
it slows down i see all i breathe meditate exhale stand on the edge wait to
and that's what it's all about.



a november wedding

they said i do
under autumn skies
under the falling color of leaves.
the cake was 40 minutes late.



after the storms, always the sun

the blues fall away.  

awake early this morning in the still darkness, the 5:30 train passing in the distance, the sound of nothing else heavy in the room, that nothing a warm comfort across my heart.  skye cat lay deep asleep against my belly, nestled in blankets, no purring, just sleep; soft, soft, her rhythm becoming mine, just nothing but us and morning in the room, last night's full moon long gone from the windows.  just darkness and morning and nothing but our breathing.  thou art everywhere but i worship thee here.

at last up, lamps flicked on, those red red birthday roses glowing with their own inner light, and we settle on the couch, this cat and i, my mother's cat, she will never be mine, and we begin a slow movement into a new day.  the old fashioned heater kicks on; it has real flames and makes a soft muffled sound of reassurance, more warmth, more comfort, and i turn on the tv, as always leaving the sound off.

the night moves toward day and suddenly the darkness is less; fallen leaves are visible on the ground and i am up to raise the blinds, to watch the full of morning fall on the street.  the ginkgo across the street has gone quite pale, almost to gold, we are almost there, and the catawba has gone quite naked, her leaves scattered across the street and lawns and into the creek.  there is no wind, not a breeze, not a stirring of grass, it is cool and still and not a car has passed, no student yet headed for another friday, no backpacks passing, no shuffling of feet, not yet, but if you type it, it will come, and there is the first car of the day.

lighter still, more day than night, one chirp from a bird, slowly slowly this day comes.  the bark of a dog, my upstairs neighbor moving about, the comforting sound of her feet on the wood overhead; i track her path in my head exactly as i followed the 5:30 train earlier.  i know the places they go.

and finally, morning.  the first student passes.  the sun has not yet climbed high enough to toss yellow rays across the yard, but soon, soon.

it is autumn.  the shadows gather strength, are more shadows than shade.  the blues fade away, fall into the memory of summer.  as always, i will find their hiding places.



the day before yesterday nothing happened

there were roses very red
and a cupcake very swirly
and happy birthday.
there were storms very black
and winds very bossy
and at lunch the waitress turned the too-loud music down
and remembered the extra tomatoes on my salad.

it was all i asked for.



last night the sky looked like storms

but i don't think they got here.
i heard no rain and the clouds i saw were storing sunlight
against the ending of the day.
i hold hope in my heart that they will light the sky some evening,
give the moon a run for her money.



friday afternoon, hopin' that the train is on time

it is easy to tell where the babies are buried. the flowers are so close together hugging the small spaces and reaching for the sky, the petals like tiny arms flying away. i pass through the cemetery avoiding this area, not looking too closely; heartbreak is just a breath away if you stand too close.  i am singing one toke over the line sweet jesus, one toke over the line . . . their souls are just as big as mine and they are flown away . . . sitting downtown in a railway station . . . later i turn left on confederate avenue, one toke over the line, stopped by the union pacific as i start to climb the hill.  there is just this train and me, and soon a truck on the other side, waiting, and then the train too is gone and i buy tacos and sit in the jeep writing, sit in the sun, waiting for the train that goes home, sweet mary . . . 



manifesto jazz

the lines i walk are mine.  i draw them myself
and i break the rules; i use
all that stuff they tell you not to
and i turn the music off because my rhythm is
the rhythm of silent stars hidden behind a daytime sun.
a bird is my muse and her name is silence
and she makes her nest in inconvenient places and i
must track her down, but that's okay, it's my job, not
i drew those lines and i stand on them in high
heels, bare feet, flip flops, cowboy
boots, and i stand tall
and i teeter and sometimes my feet
and i want to sit down, but i 

i pay attention.
i look truth in the eye and i expect it to look me back and
we'll see who blinks first. 
i am a teller of truths hurtful sad funny fast;
it is jazz and i am on the stage and i am scatting
baby sweetie honeypie
and you, yes you, right there, i see you look
when i hit that just right note,
the one you feel right up against that sore spot on your soul,
and i smile i know and hope you stay cause it gets

i ask too many questions and i keep too many answers
i am windblown imperfect and moving forward, navigating
by st. exupery's stars;
true north is the tip of my toes.
i follow the flights of owls and write their secrets on the
palm of my hand, sweating those truths away before

i draw my own lines and i use invisible ink and glow
in the dark paint and pencil tips so fine only true hearts can
i mark the curb of the universe and reach out my
hands for gifts always given.
i hold my palms open.



endings, beginnings, november

windshield reflection empty trees
cold air last year,
when i thought i knew what emptiness was.
when i thought i knew the feel of chill across my skin.

i knew so little.
little was enough.

november begins with leaves on the trees
and another funeral.
two more in truth.
i am getting good at this,
at the ordering of flowers,
at understanding no calla lilies anywhere,
at black dresses and high heels,
at hugs that hold back heartbreak,
at reading faces and waiting in silence.

i skirt around the edges of these deaths;
they are not my stories to tell.
my story is that the jeep needs washed
and i think i need stockings
and i should eat.
my story is that the year stays upside down,
shaking till it is all emptied out.
my story is a yard full of autumn birdsong and sunshine.
one leaf twirling down from the hackberry tree,
spinning into the creek,
and then another.
one at a time.

they don't seem unhappy about it.