“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


this week's tulip at the end of the week

she buys a bouquet every week.
last week the blossoms caught on fire but how that happened we will keep shushed.

on the calendar and outside the door, spring has arrived.  even if you wake too early, the birds will be a step ahead, already singing the day over the horizon; come early evening and the crickets announce the night.  i'd thought it would be winter forever.


photo: texture by kim klassen, mixed with a lot of me and photoshop.
inspired by the broken camera.


the stuff stories are made of

he's been saying sure for years when i ask to take my camera into his yard, sometimes just nodding his head when he sees me coming, so when another neighbor asked to take his portrait, he nodded to that, not expecting a big camera, not expecting art in the making.  he has no idea that i've written stories about him for years, made up of stuff i see in his eyes and his posture and the smoke from his cigarettes.  if you live in my neighborhood you are fair game.

i should probably warn whoever buys the house he is leaving behind.



the trying too hard of rule number two

everything is math and the price of tea in china and we count breaths steps heartbeats howlongwestandinline, years calories howmanyfacebookfriends thepriceofgas milespergallon and rainfallamounts, and we make grocerylists and listsofrulestomakeusfamouscreativecoolhipwild, at least some of us do, as if we needed to be told how to do that, and rule number two is be weird and rule number ten is see rainbows, neverminding that theremaynotberainbows because sometimes there aren't and neverminding that maybe we're notweird and that's okay for god's sake, conveniently forgetting we say all the time justbeyou.


it feels like the rain will never stop, though i know that to be untrue - even the ocean eventually crashes into unyielding shores.  it is lately this way, these first moments of spring, full of not knowing the days, full of blossoms falling out of rhythm.  i want to use the word cacophony, but it's not, not really; they fall silently, pushed by rain and wind and the songs of bewildered birds.  the hole in the tree that once housed screech owls is this year a nest for baby squirrels, a dry spot, warm against the night calls of bigger owls.  i walk wet sidewalks, sidestepping puddles and piles of leaves, and light candles against the gray days, and count hiddenstars and hoursofdarkness and daysuntilbaseballseason.  i remember the years when the trees bloomed in harmony with flowers and i remember the last time he said he loved me and how he said it without words, and also the time we begged the skies for rain and how it finally came, and how i sat on my mother's back porch with my uncle and we smiled at the sound of hard rain against the metal roof, and because it was summer, we also smiled at the taste of warm tomatoes fresh from the ground, and sprinkled them all over with salt.

the calendar counts those daysuntilsummer and shows me the full moons and new moons and holidays and last friday's equinox, but i am lost and on my own counting thedaysuntiltomatoes okra peaches fireworks warmlakes hotnights and the blooming of crepe myrtles, though yesterday i saw redbuds purple against the wetness and dogwoods beginning to sprout.  cacophony, i tell you.  maybe the right word after all.



spring, moon, eclipse, and pear tree blossoms

spring arrives to the sound of falling pear tree blossoms and rain.  skye cat tiptoes up the stairs, following me, wanting me back down to the wet earth.  i took a million pictures with my broken camera and the one lens i trust, drawn this morning back to these curves and katie's red lights.  

the bridge-that-really-isn't is covered with bokeh blossoms if you squint your eyes just right, and i do.

i can't see the solar eclipse, spring creeps in on invisible toes,
and tonight's supermoon is new and dark.
i have instead these blossoms and a cat's meows to show me the way forward, to bring me home.  



sometimes we need a fairy tale

i told her not to run with poetry in her hand but she never listens and, well, you can see the end, can't you?  the trip, the fall, the words going everywhere, up into the air and down, sliding under furniture and falling falling, their sharp edges slicing . . . but perhaps not.  perhaps they are curvy words and they roll under the couch and chairs, resting nestling against the warmest legs, the ones closest to the fire.  or perhaps they land on windowsills warmed at last by the late winter sun, sprawling like cats, purring their poetry back in her direction, slowing her down as she gathers them together again, their warmth falling back into her.

it's a lesson for me, and for her, to learn that spilling the words is sometimes the thing to do.  they know where they go.

the commas are the hardest to find, small enough to wrap around the small secrets every room holds.


my across the street neighbor is beginning her move to another town.  the once-upon-a-time mary's house will belong to someone new.  again.  we've saved six glass blocks that sat on the back porch back in mary's day, and i admit i hope the new owners will paint the house a new color.  a soft color, a backdrop for the spring flowers, and for the green the yard becomes by mid summer.  i watch my neighbor tossing and packing; she thinks she will empty the house of the years she spent there, but i know the truth.  she won't. she will leave behind an invisible glass slipper or two. fingerprints of joy and anger, the memory of cigarettes smoked on the darkened front porch late into hot summer nights, her thoughts whirling and tumbling until she could trust herself to sleep.  she doesn't smoke anymore, but he does, and he sits through the winter afternoons, sideways on that porch, an ashtray on the ledge.  i wonder what secrets he will leave.  i wonder who will rake the leaves when he is gone, or if they will use a leaf blower, not knowing the quiet he left behind.



monday morning after sunday night

the white tulip fell apart somewhere in the night; somewhere it was dancing with raindrops and faint moonlight, dancing until it lost its shoes, waking to look like a hungover pinwheel with a smile on its face.  from overhead it looks like a hastily tied bow or the softest of lamb's ears.  it feels like silk.


lately we are all about flowers and compassion.  we walked in the rain last night and tell me two good things about someone who drives you crazy, she said.  i was embarrassed to find only one, but one is a beginning; i will search for one more.  she'd brought me the flower the day before, another broken white tulip for my little table, and the neighbor on the corner said we could break off branches of his hawthorn tree, all abloom with pink, to happy up our homes.  good medicine in many ways.   the rain keeps the world gray, but the daffodils light it up, the white dots of paperwhites, the spots on the hackberry tree.  we walked in the light of almost night, alone on the streets, everyone else snug in their houses or smoking cigarettes on porches, turning up a street we seldom visit.  her raincoat was the color of raspberries; she wore a black hat and looked like a character from dickens, her face glowing in the last of the day. there was the calling of owls and the sound of water running in the creek.

time feels soft, easily broken.  we set our clocks forward and it began to rain.  this week looms large and long but will move faster than i right now think.  it is another path i didn't see from the road, one i must draw on my map; i will use a pink crayon when i mark this new spot and toss fallen petals on its movement.  i think i will stop and plant seeds as i walk.  next year when she and i walk, there will be surprises of blossoms.



march spring winter ice

yesterday's rain.
today's ice.
snow sprinkled across the top.
the tulip tree blooms are pink from far away,
the color of cold when you step close.

i know people like that.