Friday, August 31, 2007

Lovers Do Not Meet

Lovers do not meet somewhere along the way.
They're in each other's hearts from the beginning. ~Rumi


Ask me if I dreamed last night and I'll say Yes and that we spoke of tea but tea wasn't tea and you weren't you but I was me and sleeping together was anything but sleeping. You (who wasn't you) asked, "Is it too much tea?" Though you (not you) wanted more, lay back and bared, batted your big brown (I told you it wasn't you) eyes and lashes at me--who was still me, wondering if you wanted only my body after all, then.

All is brown tonight. Soft and without edges and I couldn't care less what the moon is doing and you know this isn't like me to shun the moon. And in my bones, there's snow and ice, but it's early for this. The chimney isn't swept and I've not once turned on heat and the bed is still wearing light clothes, and I know it's not a dream, all this, and wishing cannot make it so.

9/22/97
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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Many Facets, One Jewel

(1999)


I watch the rain
trickle psychedelic down
our window panes. My husband's
in the next room thinking
he loves me. Thinking
he is married--happily even
perhaps--I don't know.



I do know
by the rain
the flight of leaves
the lean of the silver maple tree
that neither of us knows
not the first thing
about loving. We are
pretending at it. Just like
those who taught us.


(1998)

Miners we are, and blackened by it.

My lamp has burned out, and so I ask that you share your light. And what do you say, love: what do you say? It is the same, every time:

"G'bye." It's "gotta care for my own, gotta love my own."

That which was held is shattered in an instant.

Like it never was, we walk into our separate days, estranged mothers of our own lives. Meanwhile, our toilets fill with load after load of what was never intended to be carried along. The cat cries to come in, for a gaze and a hand: simple reassurance. Then she is quickly off again. In spring, there is no need for her winter coat, so she sheds it.

The ideal palace is what you desire. To Lord over your kingdom with total control. In your kingdom, there is no argument; apology is irrelevant: ideal kingdom.

Orlando Letelier was tortured, put to death, you know, for being himself: a torch for others to walk by. For being clear, visionary, and willing to follow that thrum: to lead. Imagine Paris, turn of the century, and how they all knew the World spun on that axis. The World! Paris: the center of the Universe!

One bears one's own failings and flailing when humility sets in. So even Paris fell to its knees. Bombs on the Metro, a city-wide strike--the opposite of naked: that time was a thick coat of unrest. The cloak heavy, burdensome, was a weight to be shrugged off. And so now Paris is lighter, walking by the flame of its own truths.

How fast it goes, time! Forty years, and maybe 40 more if we're fortunate. How shall we live them, dear? And what might it cost you to share your lamp? Paris lost nothing, really, don't you think?


(2003)

In that corner we lay
mouths hands skin and
that feeling of stay
in the palm of Love
pulsing life for life's sake
one molecule
in one corner
of one white room
for some reason
and I want to say it was
Divine
but you know
now that I think about it
it is enough to say
it was.


(1999)

I sit exhausted in my blue room with fur on my teeth and needing refreshment, but I cannot budge. The days of forcing myself out of these grogs and into motion are over.

There's a toothbrush by the sink, red and clean--that's a comfort, even if I don't use it. The breeze is a caress across my neck. I love the breeze as it loves me.

They call this collapse.

Lucy's brought me the bluebird of happiness in a velvet pouch. She says it's crystal, and it won't ever die. But it's not breathing to begin with, I tell her, and she shakes her head, sorry for me. I am not sorry for me. I am right where I am, which is more than I can say for a lot of folks. They spin through their days like tops, and at the finish, just when they're about to hear something from the inside deeper than "Good morning, how are ya?" or "Got this terrible bug..." they pour a rye and ginger and it's lost.

I am here, right here: two feet solid on collapse, and happily so. There is nothing worse than sawing against the grain. The saw binds, the wood tears--it's a terrible mess. And you can never quite find your groove...

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Excerpts from an Unfinished Novel

for Grace Paley
December 11, 1922 - August 22, 2007

Rain. Street lights change. I pause, look into a cafe window (steamed, wet). A couple sits, elbows to table. Their hands orbit their own faces, slow motion conversation I see but do not hear. I am outside understanding.


The city grows loud at my back--so many rooms, all those rooms, and what inside them? The hurry hurries me. Walking the treadmill of pavement--bottle caps, condoms, bits of foil, mullein and chickory all in their wrong places, loud and busy and loud--walking, getting...somewhere.

Where?


A red light, and all stops. Pedestrians cross in their own...sweet...time. But still, the waiting cars are busy. Idling, busy. Inside, singing, fights, the cigarette light, the back seat grocery bag set upright again.

A green, and the cars move, torture the rain with wipers and wheels--go...where? So important--where? Caring, intentional going, it seems. But all is outside me, on the Ferris wheel here, spinning spinning.

~~o~~


Simple: stop on red; go on green--how about that? And get a load of the tides--it's moon talk, you know. A back-and-forth language both understand. Sin and guilt and penance: these are useful constructs. That's where sorry comes in. There's balance afoot. Put a mind to it, you can make it work for you.

Daisies. Have a look at daisies. And maybe the way the sun moves. But people: I never know what to expect of them. Someone said there's a Hitler in all of us, and until we see it, there'll be no peace.

I wanted to cook for you. Show you rose hips, make a sand dial, raise dogs, lavender out back along the sunny path, sign our names, collect our teeth, and now look?

~~o~~


To be adored--what's that? Good for awhile, touching freckles and wrist bones, and oh! the fingers remember, don't they. Either way, it's tragedy, though. I don't believe we're here for joyful. How can it be?

I got all the blessings as a child. St. Blaise even covered my throat. Still, this. Molly and Do. A quietly happy room--anyone would say so, looking in. But underneath: something. Like an undiscovered virus. So organized, in its cell division. Efficient. And full of full of full of full of purpose. Suspended like draperies. The buttons go unnoticed. Folks always finger the cloth, cheek the nap, check the count.

My steps are like this, Moll: deliberate, functional. I've got to be sure of myself.

I can't believe that every man of war was ready for that killing. Someone loved those eyes right before he shot them. But there's the momentum, starts in Basic and builds to the take-aim. Finger on that trigger, what's he gonna do but shoot?

...It's quiet here now. The wind gone, and the creaking. The rain, long over, replaced by a drizzle of crickets. Harmless crickets.

I think I'm going to make it, I think, and then remember feeling the same last night. The darkness: it's such a blessing, how it simplifies. The people, they go inside. And all these trees, why, they could be one kind. I find I don't worry so much about them now, nights. Forgiving, night.

Then morning again.

Then you pull the trigger (ready, aim, fire!). When it ends, it's over, and just calm. Not cataclysmic, just finished.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In Anticipation of an Anniversary

I have been off here and there and everywhere it would seem enjoying (mostly!) this summer of summers, and though Love's Freeway has been ever present with me, I have not, truth be told, been moved to write. Invariably when this happens, the turn of a page or the shift of a thought or the cast of a glance will, when I least expect it, excite and propel me to rush to the keyboard, in Love, eager to make a few more tracks on this Freeway. This time is no exception.

Part of the "everywhere" I've been this week is called back to dip into a particularly precious journal or two, a half-written second novel, and a two-thirds complete manuscript of writings in various forms. Each, I see now, is an earlier incarnation of this very vehicle. And so, just days away from the one-year anniversary of Love's Freeway, I am inclined to make those tracks over already broken ground, over cleared but unfinished dirt roads previously abandoned that I wish to intersect here. I will bring a handful forward over these next few days. Some are love letters or stories, some are poems. This one is an invitation:

January 13, 2004 ~ Now and now: how do I speak about it? How do I convey the way the singing to the radio on my way here was different today? I was being--singing--like there’s no tomorrow: yes, that's what it was. Try it. For a minute, an hour, a day—I challenge you, just try it. Suddenly even brushing teeth is an event. All is new. All is…alive? Is that a good word for it? And swimming this morning: same thing. I don’t swim like it’s my last time. I swim always knowing there’ll be another swim—tomorrow, the next day. But I don’t know this for sure, do I? That there will be another tomorrow, another swim, another chance to send that note to Barbara or Richard: appreciations I’ve been delaying because I know there is tomorrow to convey them. And hell, well I’ve got this and this and this and this already to do today.

Do you see how it matters, being in the mode of “Now” and “Now”?

Not later, but now. Pick up that phone, send that note. Love up that dog. You'll see, then, why my singing—the same song I’ve sung to countless times before—was so impassioned tonight.

I’ve been lap swimming year round for going on nine years. That’s the other part of this. We get used to things: people, routines, landscapes. When was the last time you really looked at your wife, your mother, your old cat? Go now, go home tonight and look like there’s no tomorrow. Like this is it, the last time, and tell me what fills you.

Do it. Go now. Go home tonight, or set out this morning and look as if there's no tomorrow. As if this is it, the last time...and tell me what fills you.

Drink deeply.

p.s. - just-past-full moon tonight: don't miss it!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Grace

Well, Wednesday arrived, and what I'd previously been hearing as a nudge turned imperative: I needed an ocean and fast. Why I needed an ocean I didn't know exactly; I could've guessed, sure. But my going on two decades now of listening and (usually) following without question has me (usually) no longer asking why. When I hear "this" or "Yes" (or "No") or "go," I obey. But the clincher came when I opened my box of business cards from myriad contacts over many years and found Mrs. Bent's right on top. On a clean, white card, in simple marine blue lettering, all but reaching up from the box read "White Caps" and beneath that "Apartments - Rooms." Though I'd gone to the box in search of something else, something business-related, I immediately recognized this "serendipitous" prompting for what it was: I picked up the phone and I dialed. It has been a few years since I'd stayed at her quaint, throwback-of-a motel, and she was well into her 80's then. One of these days, I thought, I'm going to call and she'll be gone. But in fact it was not her answering machine, or a computer announcing that I had reached a number no longer in service, but Mrs. Bent herself who answered the phone. I booked the room, Number 4, and Friday morning I'd be on my way!

"I should've checked the weather before I called," I said with a frown when I took a look at what Yahoo was predicting for the weekend. Rain all day Friday, for starters. It doesn't rain all day in August, does it? There went beach day No. 1 of only 3; I wondered if I should call and change the reservation. I can't tell you what had me resist or ignore that thought; I only know that by about 7 p.m. on Friday, standing on Herring Cove Beach near the easternmost tip of Massachusetts, I was moved to tears at what I beheld. I felt then as if I had come by Divine appointment.

The light on Provincetown is always special, often magical, but this evening, it was indescribable. The rain had stopped by then. The clouds were breaking, beginning to clear. The sun shone warmly from its low angle on everything that had just been freshly washed clean and which would not dry out before morning at the earliest. So the earth--dunes, beach, bluffs, grasses, even the sky itself--felt thick, fecund, like a fruit heavy with its ripeness. A glimpse away from where the sun was making its slow and sensual descent through the broken clouds and seemingly into the sea took my breath--gasp. A double rainbow had formed over the beach and I watched as it revealed itself in all its fullness and splendor, ultimately pouring it seemed into its invisible pot of gold just beyond my view. This, for the rain. To think, I thought, I had lamented the rain. One very small "price" to pay for this, I thought.

I snapped over a hundred pictures (ah, digital technology!), literally. It just kept coming and kept coming, changing, seducing my eye, me with its endless variations: the changing light, and its play on the landscape, on the water particles still hanging heavy in the air. So now I know: it is rain that makes it so. So...breathtaking.

It is six days since I beheld this heartstopping spectacle, and I have not written. And previous to that, another 10 days or so of silence here. Not for a lack of riches from which to share. More from having been quieted by day after day of living in what seems to me a state of Grace. I recall the adage: "Those who say don't know; those who know don't say." I am challenged at times like these to find words--in life, in writing--when it all feels far beyond words. Again and again these days, a way is closed to me and, after a moment of "Uh oh, now what?" a new way opens that offers more than the one I have been forced to abandon. I suppose the momentariness of my resistance, the brevity of my gulp, accounts for some of that. I think of a leaf or a water bug buffeted to and fro along a rushing river. Bump it hits a rock--that can't feel good!--but then there it is riding free again, wheeee, on the open water. It's been like that for me these days. And how does the song go? Amazing Grace...has brought me safe thus far.

She has indeed.

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