“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


summer, cont'd

i was gonna go outside and stand around in some flowers and take a picture, but it's over 100 degrees out there, just a bit, but a bit is enough, and since i'd told the ever-wonderful michael just yesterday that i didn't think we were allowed to complain about the heat this summer, not after last year's onslaught of way-over-100s, and since i knew i probably would have a word or two to say when i got back into the air conditioning, i just stayed in the air conditioning.  i have flowers on my feet anyway.

we are almost to july.  i am full of short thoughts and lazy moments and, right now, a cherry limeade; i'd forgotten how good maraschino cherries are when they're swimming around with limes and ice and sugar.  when you swish them all around and shake your cup to help the straw find the last little bit of goodness,  it sounds like summer.  



because, you know, we should give our own selves a smooch or two now and then

june 2012.


sunday afternoon and she shows me that all could not be more right with the world.
there is sunshine and silence broken only by birdsong.



i meant to take a picture, but . . .

summer is here
and just like that, with a snap of your fingers, a flip of the calendar page, the lake is no longer make-you-gasp cold, but just cool, and you know that a couple of weeks more and only your toes will feel anything even close to cold as they dangle deeper in the water, but you also know it won't matter; your toes will be happy and if your toes are happy, well, the rest of you is happy also.  i won't see real shoes for months.

just like that, the birds disappear into nests for the night and cicadas begin to sing.  the cat stays out later and so does the sun.  the front door stays open longer and laziness moves inside, bringing with it light summer fiction and plenty of ice. 3 months of 3 day weekends means i ignore the clocks even more than i did before.

just like that, there are cherries in the fridge and blueberries too, homegrown tomatoes, okra, eggplant, more tomatoes, peppers, and when i buy hamburgers, i buy them with jalapenos, and add salsa to my fries.  the back of the jeep is piled with folding chaise lounges (a drugstore purchase), a cooler, 4 floaties - blue, blue, white, and blue - beach towels, a 24 pack of bottled water.  a small folding chair.  rubber boots.  by the front door, a plastic tote - blue - waits, with sunscreen and my ipod earphones, but not my ipod - the earphones are disguise, and the ipod is empty anyway.  i have never figured it out.

tonight, the sound of basketballs against the brick street and boys' voices brings the cat inside, and then, just like that, they move on around the corner and the night is nothing but cicadas once again.



i could smell rain in the air for 24 hours before it fell. take 2.

my fingers awoke at 4 a.m.,
aching from words unwritten,
reaching for tylenol to ease the pain,
grasping for dreams half remembered. 
two messages were on the phone,
lighting my way through the dark house.


"One at a time, each child is blindfolded
and handed a paper "tail" with a push pin or thumbtack poked through it."

i could smell rain in the air 24 hours before it fell.  it has lately been falling through sunshine, sending friends out to find the hidden rainbows.  the nights are loud with lightning and the morning sidewalks are always wet, but the rain is mostly gone by dawn, the yard moving from shade to sunlight to shadow to shade and back again to sunlight.  this morning the birds are quiet and there is but a bit of blue in the sky; from where i sit it is white with almost-summer clouds, the sun pushing through only now and then.  a breeze seems to sing rain.  there are red dragonflies and orange daylilies outside the front door, but spring still lingers in the back yard with the surprise of wisteria blossoms dangling over the butterfly bushes.

rain. sunshine.
shade.  sunlight.
spring. summer.
here. there.
now. then.

one foot in the past, one foot in the now, a step about to be taken.  no signs pointing the way.  a broken compass.  a lost map. indecision, fear.  

"The blindfolded child is then spun around until he or she is disoriented."

the sky has grown gray even as a bird begins to sing. 
a cat yowls in the distance.  a siren passes by and stops.  

it is always better in the late mornings.  my achiness eases and i have sat a while with the day and things seem possible, my fears surmountable.  i wake knowing the answers and grow easy with the knowledge.  by afternoon those answers seem wrong and by evening they are gone.  i am left holding that broken compass and clouds cover the stars.

another siren.

"The child gropes around and tries to pin the tail on the donkey."

i must make a decision, choose a direction.
i must pin the tail on the donkey and hope i get close.

summer is almost here - time for stumbling through the dark truth of things.  truth like money is scarce.  truth like pain is not.  details are unneeded, except about the pain, which may be something or may be nothing, but is here all the time.  i not so secretly believe that it is mostly grief - yes, still - grief held onto too tightly, grief i write about, but in truth turn away from because i don't know how else to survive it.  my heart is the brokest it has ever been.

the pain began when i was writing an article for graciel, a piece about home and grief, and i swore i would never write about either again, sure that would erase the pain, but i was wrong.  it eased a bit, with help from this pill and that pill, with help from a bit of sunshine on my skin, but mother's day and a visit to the cemetery, and it was back.

and so.  another plan.  another maybe to move into my mother's house.   to use the front rooms, already repainted, and the back porch, as living spaces, and ease my way into the bedrooms.  so many reasons i should do this - i can make a list.  it would save money as i work on her house.  it would move her energy out and mine in.  it would force me to confront my grief.  it would this and it would that.  i would need to repaint the kitchen, her studio;  ditto the concrete floors on which i would live until the house is truly ready to be sold.  not much.  not really.  katie says she will help.   i could be all moved in by the end of summer.

i have said this before, i know, and it is hard to say it again - i feel foolish.  the dwindling money supply, however, is something i can no longer ignore, and so perhaps this time i mean it.  as i type these words, i don't know.  i want money to fall from the sky so i can avoid this decision, money enough to hire the work done, money enough to pay for new tiles in the bathrooms.  i have no idea where to find the courage and the strength.  i have no idea if my aching arms will go along with it all.  if my aching legs will carry me.

i stopped by the house sunday morning, to pick up mail and open all the windows.  the house next door has been sold and there was a child's shout from their backyard - i love it here! - that made me smile.  i swept the back porch and carried a small table to the curb to be picked up by someone else.  i watered a plant and checked the baby figs on the fig tree.  it needs so much work - i have let it sit for so long.  

it is not what i want, but it may be what i need.
the house may feel the same way about me.

by sunday night it felt impossible and i sat in a chair in the otherwise empty living room and cried.


"The player who pins their tail closest to the target, the donkey's rear, wins.
The game, a group activity, is generally not competitive;
"winning" is only of marginal importance."
                                                                   ~ Wikepedia



not 6 feet under, but close enough

i passed her yesterday morning
in her robe -
not her good one -
a thin summer thing too small by a couple of sizes
faded pink.
shovel in hand
digging a hole right there in her front yard
next to the sidewalk
burying her nightmares from the night before
where she could step on them hard
when she went about her day.




the sacred: yesterday it was a bird in the late afternoon heat, on the side of the road, wings flapping, raging, raging against the dying of the light. i passed it in my car and turned around, but in those few seconds, it was gone.  this morning, magnolia blossoms on the street, crushed and scattered.

i think it was the sound of music.  i was a kid and it was the movie to see, but we were poor and it was too expensive, and i guess i felt left out from the seeing.  i don't remember - i just remember my guilt, even though it wasn't on purpose, not really.  (see? even still, i try to excuse my childself.)   i'd found an ad in the paper - the movie was showing at a drive in theater, a dollar per person and look! i said to my father - the sound of music! one dollar! and he said well, a dollar, we can do that - and i remember the light of the room, the newspaper on the floor next to me, and i remember knowing he thought i'd meant a dollar per car, not per person, and i remember my guilt beginning, but i kept silent and selfish - and he piled the whole family, 3 kids, 2 parents, into the car and off we went.  i guess i really wanted to see the movie, but all i remember is pulling up to the ticket booth, and my father's embarrassment when he discovered it was too much money.  the look he and my mother exchanged.  i remember staring away from them, my face against the window, knowing we didn't have the money to spare.  i remember the bright light surrounding the booth, the dark night beyond.

i don't know if we saw the film or not.  i remember my father turning the car around, driving past the ticket booth, making a turn and heading home, but i also remember seeing him shell out money he couldn't afford, money which meant a bill didn't get paid or someone went without a few lunches.  maybe he did turn the car around, maybe he changed his mind and we went back, maybe we cried and whined and he decided 5 bucks was worth less grief.  maybe i have memories mixed together - maybe we went another night.  i don't remember the movie at all.

i wear my father's embarrassment to this day.

i could have asked him - after i was grown, i could've apologized, said i'm sorry, but i never did, and now both my parents are gone, and i have no one to make me feel better.  it brings me to tears every time i think about it.  i am crying while typing these words.  i want absolution from my sin, and it is too late.  i want him to know i knew and i did it anyway, i want him to know that i hated being poor, but i want him to know that i understand he hated it more.  i want him to tell me it's okay.  it wasn't okay, but i want that anyway.  i am still a child in all those feelings, but a child grown up who knows how much it cost him.


i dreamed i should tell you this.  i dreamed i should let it out of its box, this small piece of my childhood.  i dreamed it must be written.

"There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." 
                                                     ~ Ernest Hemingway


maybe this is why we write.  to give our small stories somewhere else to live.  




i said to katie when we thought we were on our way out the door and we weren't,
i said, well now i will relax a bit, my lips all shiny, my hair all clean, my soul all spiffy,
and i put my feet on the stool and the fan blew cool air across my still warm from the shower toes
and i watched the cat fall into a drowse and i listened to afternoon nothingness.
that was friday before the movie, before the 2-girls-only dinner out,
before we ordered steaks just because, before falling asleep early and waking the same.
before saturday morning lawn mowers and the anger of slamming doors,
and that tree from last summer, dead but still standing, waiting for burial, a tombstone, a wake,
to be missed, waiting for someone to say it is gone,
before the orange dimples of daylilies welcomed the day,
before butterflies and the busy-ness of neighbors,
before the splash of the dragonfly against the glass door,
before saturday night and this sunday morning, loud with the chase of cardinals,
before politics argued on television shows and sneezes and catfights and allergy pills,
before breakfast, and laundry waiting for clean,
before the thought of flowers yet to be bought,
before breezes and mockingbirds and the morning sun,
but after the leaves from wednesday's storm, washed up in waves across the front yard.



last year it was the stuff of prayers

wednesday night the rains came.  i left work through the back door and found a black cloud filling the sky to the south, my direction home, and when i passed the white church steeple on the corner, against all  that darkness, i wished i'd brought my camera, but i hadn't, so never mind.  i was home in a minute and in another minute standing under the gathering storm, in the wind, tree limbs creaking overhead. you have to do this you know, especially if you live here, and you remember last summer when the rain wouldn't come, when just a bit of wind made your heart race with anticipation.

but this year came the rain.  fast and wild and crazy.  and this year came the wind.  i stood in the house and watched trees throw limbs into a neighbor's back yard, watched the rise of the water in the creek.  the normal trickle of two or three inches was suddenly quickly 5 or 6 feet deep, rushing madfully joyfully happy happy, growing deeper by the minute, soon to the top of the surrounding rock walls, a good 8 feet or so.  the front yard was flooded, the street underwater, and i was torn between joining in the madness or staying in the house, hoping my kitchen wouldn't flood.  the madness won, and i was soon outside with katie, umbrellas overhead, both of us splashing in pink rain boots; her husband was barefoot, traipsing through the almost knee high water, video camera in hand.  neighbors moved their vehicles from possible damage, and just like that, just that quick, the water began to recede, the storm grew quiet, the sky lightened, and my kitchen didn't flood.  the bridge across the creek was once again passable.

last year it was the stuff of prayers.

it is still rainy.  still overcast.  the mosquitoes will drive us crazy and the humidity will bring more fleas.  the air conditioner isn't sure what to do.  my barefoot toes are a tad chilly in the house, but if i make the house warmer, the stickiness is almost unbearable.  thank you, god.  thank you, universe.



if i was

if I was a wind, i would steal your secrets
if I was a name, i would leave you guessing, laughing, asking for my number
if I was a memory, i would be the truth you turned away from
if I was a papered thing, i would be a bookmark, chapter 6, wind, sand, and stars
if I was a poem, my words would be written with a pen's last ink, sputtering, coughing,
             reeling off the page
if I was an hour, i would always be now
if I was a kiss, i would never tell
if I was a story, i would live forever
if I was a house, i would stand through the storms
if I was a landscape, i would not be fenced
if I was a flower, i would open under the moon
if I was a photograph, i would be cellphone out of focus feet on flowers
if i was a heroine, i would stir up magic potions and show you secret tunnels
if I was an item of clothing, i would barely barely touch your skin, just so, just so
if I was a song, i would sing you the sun, a capella, at dawn, and at night, the stars, 
             a capella, in darkness

what would you be, if?

questions by the lovely sarah at knitting the wind.  see her answers here, and join in with your own.



a flip flop adios

2 bucks 2 years 2 shoes, and i hate to see them go; i try to always keep the blue ones, the teal ones, the aqua, the turquoise, i never have a problem tossing black ones or pink, but.  comes a time when nothing gets them clean anymore.

these were the ones i was wearing when the sailboat tossed us overboard 3 times; one was lost for a day but finally floated home and the other got shoved all kattywumpus up against the bottom of the jeep's driver's seat, where i'd kicked it off to make it easier to drive, and so they are unevenly dirty and permanently so, and they will have to go.  i have others this color, at least kind of this color, and i have thrown out blue ones before, and these were walmart cheap, and there is no reason to even think 2ce about it, but i do because colors are either in style or not, and it may be 10 years before this color comes around again, and i may be forced to maybe wear red, which, unless it is high heels or cowboy boots, i just cannot do.  i am held hostage by the whims of possible fashion.  almost.



june-almost-summer sidewalk

if i'm lucky i get a crescent moon to tickle my toes.

i am breathing in spring-almost-summer, all hot air and sunshine and breezes across the honeysuckle.  today is a skirt and flipflops and a cat sprawled across a messy back porch, following the morning sun and the afternoon shade.  by 6 she will be asleep under the bench below my kitchen window.  by 8 there will be the sound of cicadas, eager for night to fall.  by dark, there will be owls.

the stuff of healing.  

it is just another summer, another face in the crowd of summers, but, like all those faces, it wears its own smile and cries its own tears when it thinks no one is looking.  it moves down the familiar sidewalks and the shadows that fall across its feet are summer snowflakes, each one new and none identical and all gone in an instant.  it is just another june-not-yet-summer, but almost there, almost.  it is the last full moon of spring.

sometimes in the late night darkness, the front door still open, i hear skateboards on the street outside, clattering fast down the brick street, and i feel the joy fly past with the sound, chased by the bark of a distant dog.  the cicadas all go quiet at once, and the night inhales.  exhales, and they begin again.