“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


a sparrow gone

feathers scattered across my bedroom,
across ideas and sketches and books half read.
the sparrow at the foot of my bed,
the cat complacent, asleep on a chair.

a battlefield.
and yet, the way of things.
peace is not the natural order;
the lion does not lie down with the lamb,
at least not if the lamb was raised right.

breathe into your struggle and soldier on.
dress warmly if the battleground is cold,
prepare for sleepless nights.
carry water.
carry matches.
carry yourself.
learn the patterns of the stars,
keep a compass in your pocket.
it is up to you.

true north is thataway
and it is uphill.
it will not be easy
but it will be fun.
you will find places in your soul you didn't know were there,
your heart will grow big with the constant climbing
and fill with memories and loves and secrets
and have room left over for more.

i promise.
you have my word.



standing on the equinox

the stars are speaking autumn, that language of my childhood bound up in new crayolas and sweaters and nights in the neighborhood and the importance of cursive writing and the glow of houses against the early fall of night.  my toes grow cold more easily lately, and flipflops are interchanged with shoes that are easily dangled from one toe or left altogether behind, the better for the sun to warm me.  baseball is reaching its end and my team is winning, and high school football lights up the friday nights; my mother's cat, still on my mother's time, yowls at me to come to bed much too early, and my mother seems to be there in those moments, her habits of the last few years also this cat's. 

leaves lay like wounded butterflies on the porch outside my front door.  grasshoppers cling to my window screens, as do lizards and moths, and temperatures at last below 100 lure me into the night once again, my old habits also returning.  it has been a summer to remember, and september is almost gone.  i stood in a crystal store today and some pink ones made me cry - i forget their name, i have it written down.  they are for your heart, the woman said, they help with grief.  i bought two, along with others, embarrassed at the tears, and thought they matched my mother's pink bathroom.

standing on the equinox.
top of the stairs.



i got this imperfection stuff down to an art

weeds outside the doctor's office.

i was wondering about imperfection,
walking back to the jeep,
wondering when we really accept it
and how far is too far,
cause all of us who say we accept it still want to be thinner
look younger
have perfect skin
pedicures manicures pink toenails,
and we think if we had a white mac
our stories would be better,
would be perfect and we would be famous
and someone would come take pictures of our glorious selves
in front of that computer
and our desk would have a vase of sunflowers or blue hydrangeas,
madonna notwithstanding cause she is the material girl, not us,
and our windows would look out over fields of autumn,
and that person would ask us questions for which we had the perfect answers.
other people,
still worried about that perfection nonsense,
would sigh -
it seems important somehow that they would sigh -
and wish they were us,
that they led our lives,
those lives we lead embracing imperfection,
those lives we lead saying be yourself,
you are fabulous,
and we mean it, we really do, you are fabulous,
and we are imperfect,
and i was thinking about all that,
my mind's finger almost touching the point i was reaching for,
when i reached the curb and in fumbling for my keys i lost it.
lost that perfect thought.

insert smirk right here as life teaches me a lesson.

my jeep is piled with mail from my mother's house,
bags of clothes to go to goodwill,
a blue floatie still inflated,
bobbing around in the back seat where it's been for months,
a roll of paper towels, kleenex, a couple of styrofoam cups,
an antique doll's head hidden under something behind the driver's seat,
where it's been since march,
but no camera.
just the one on my phone.

i was enchanted with the weeds
and the shadow of my hands as i walked behind them,
my shadow their sun.
totally absolutely imperfect.




the story from the other side

i saw the truck pull up and park;
the driver is working on the house next door,
building a back yard porch,
and his truck is there every day
and i loved that ricky was getting a shout out,
some out loud love for the whole world to see.
loved it.
i took a picture real quick like before leaving the house,
then hopped into the jeep and backed out of the driveway,
coming to a stop to shift gears right next to the truck's other side.

and then i really stopped.

it was a whole 'nother story on that other side.
a story i don't know,
a story told in the fewest of words and shoe polish.
and the funny thing is, i didn't feel sad.
i smiled.
i still loved that ricky was getting a shout out,
some out loud love for the whole world to see.
loved it.

i have a feeling that ricky is somewhere loving it, too.
r.i.p ricky.



i lusted for those white ones up there on the right

boot shopping on the sunday morning street,
gingerbread pigs in hand,
sausage & eggs in the jeep.
i knew enough spanish to understand the shiny reds were 200 bucks,
the white pointy toes $120,
 made for dancing
boot scooting
keeping you in line with those dagger toes,
120 dollars for the black ones with metal points.
god, you gotta love mexican cowboy boots,
not made for anything but looking good,
looking sharp,
not made to last, that's for sure,
but lordy me, how fine you look while they are still with you.

there were stacks of salsa cds to the left
and a heated discussion in the background,
finishing up saturday night's argument,
and i could just see me in those boots under a swoopy skirt,
but i walked away.
still in flipflops.



bilingual + i know a little spanish

there's a cat under that chair
and ice in the cup
and the tv far off in the upper right corner where you can't see
is off.

that silence is a language i speak.



the only safety you find at the end is the safety you bring with you (with apologies to robert pirsig)

nighttime dark drives into my safe spaces,
i count my breaths.
one to the stop sign
two and a dogleg to the right
three past the wendy's
four - a true right turn,
and then flashing red lights guide me
this way
this way,
no longer stopping me,
five to the first one
six to the second,
there is never any traffic in my way,
only one last turn
and then the safest place of all.
nevermind that i carried it with me all the way.



the lake: early evening, coming home

never mind that we're back into 3 digit temperatures.
this weekend was full of telling summer goodbye.

perhaps because it is the end of our 4 day summer work weeks;
perhaps because the lake was so smooth,
lines of different blues in the distance like mirages on the water.
perhaps the silence under the sky,
the water icy cold once again.

the haze of wildfires hung low in the sky
and we drifted under the almost full harvest moon.

perhaps that.

perhaps because there was baseball in the afternoon,
football in the evening.
perhaps all of that, perhaps none.
perhaps just a knowledge in our souls,
passed down through generations,
part of us still linked to the movements of the stars.


perhaps it was the black paint under my fingernails,
autumn always calling me to draw;
the cooler evenings filling me with a different energy.
like the cat, i am tempted to run up the sides of trees,
and back down again.



i dipped my hands in paint today. lost and found.

you can only watch your prey for so long before pouncing,
can only imagine every escape route it may find before risking the plunge.
thinking is not doing.

i will start big and i will start fast.
it will be a bloodbath.
and then silence.



what you can't see in this picture: for connie jean, who packed suitcases and waited

there was smoke in the distance behind me, a thin purple haze you might mistake for clouds if you hadn't heard the news alerts.  another fire in this weekend of fire and wind, more evacuations, this one costing 4 homes, just a small one in the big scheme of national news, but so oh-not-small to the people who'd built those homes, so oh-not-small at all to the man unable to save even photos, his son on tv saying all gone, all gone

they started thursday night, i think, maybe friday, i've lost count of the days and all my handwritten notes are at home and i am at work; the first day is unimportant now anyway.  the tv said a fire here, a small one there, and i'd listened and paid not much attention - it's been a summer of heat and wind and grassfires and defensively watering trees and lawns in the face of no rain - but this wind was the edge of a hurricane and it came in and didn't stop.  that delicious cool wind i stood in saturday night proved unrelenting.  it blew dust and dirt past my open front door, huffed and puffed limbs from the trees, and by sunday afternoon the list of fires was a constant scrawl across the bottom of local tv stations.  2 dead.  houses gone.  by monday the area near austin had lost hundreds of homes.

but not here.  we were surrounded by fires sprawled in all directions, but here it was only windy and dry and the skies were that perfect september blue, the temperatures in the wonderful high 80s.  it felt not quite real if you ignored the smoke. 

by tuesday morning we could no longer do that.  i awoke to the smell of something burning and walked outside to find the streets swimming in smoke from those not-quite-so-distant-as-i'd-thought fires, held low to the ground by the cool night air, spreading out instead of up, and the news kept saying listing fires, more evacuation centers, showed people escaping with pets and pictures.  the image of a horse in the bed of a pickup truck stays with me.  safe

we are still surrounded, but the fires are on the county edges, in the countrysides, far enough away to not give worry.  the winds have died down, but the humidity is low and pine trees are perfect fuel for flames.  this long hot dry dry summer continues.


but listen.
katie stood in a sprinkle of rain sunday. 
it will come.


the dog ate our computers. never mind that we have no dogs.

so sorry, but i'm having mucho many lotsa computer problems with every single all of them computer(s) to which i belong.  the small window of what's up is opening and the ever-wonderful michael's computer is at last letting me type these words.  i'll be back.

in the meantime, i can't check emails or do anything with images.  for all of you who've contacted me via fb - which my non-iphone phone will let me look at, but it's difficult - re: the fires all over the place here in east texas, i am fine.  we are fine.  thank you for all the thoughts and prayers and good vibes sent this way. 

i am rain dancing in my dreams and in my waking hours. 



satdy night i was downtown

it is a bad cell phone image of this wonderful night sky, but i liked the way the tree seemed to be holding up the clouds, and i liked the clouds - oh my, yes, indeedy.  there is a fine, fine, cool, fabulous, brisk breeze out there on the streets, a wind with sound and leaves scattering before it, and these saturday night streets are almost deserted here on the not cool edge of the bad side of downtown - i gave thanks for not being hip, and stood in the middle of the street and fired off shots of the night and the wind blew over me and around me and my god, it felt heaven, y'all. 



the pop of pecans under your toes & other gifts of september

september begins with crunches underfoot; no flowers falling from trees, but green pecans instead.  it is, as bilbo baggins said, a dangerous business going out your front door.  the tree hurls them onto the sidewalk, the porch, the roof, our heads.  they bounce off the hood of my jeep.  skye cat dodges them and skitters for safety.  the lovely, lovely katie delights in them under her feet; i watch her leave in the mornings, making a small detour onto the bridge to step on just a few more while they rain down around her.  i am reminded of the apple trees in the wizard of oz, and laugh - something about the aliveness of these trees is such magic.  wizards and journeys and trees - oh my!

we have come this far on our journey of the year;
before us lie only the months ending in r,
and there are gifts awaiting us. 

this morning's was the discovery of one of skye's magic places, in one of the backyards that bumps into ours, its old wooden fence falling apart and down, covered in wisteria, shaded by trees.  if you are a cat you will follow this fence to a tree long fallen, still sprawled upon the garage roof, vines encircling its trunk, and from there you will find, on the opposite side, a giant oak extending a low branch in welcome, so gently angled that you are able to just walk into the tree.  how long has it been like that?  all i had to do was look. 

the first gift of september.