Category: In the Details

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Poem for April 1

Photo by Elizabeth HowardLying flat on the grass,
Crushing the blades
I am a bookmark between
The earth and all that is above.

“You are not looking UP,”
I once read. “Imagine you can
Step out into the stars. All the
Universe is in front of you.”

All the universe — the sun which is a
Star; and greater suns indeed, also stars,
And the moons which are just rocks like
Gravel scattered between the flagstones.

The landscapers moved the daffodils.
“Give them some water. They’ll perk back up.”
Just so with this grass beneath me.
Those ants I laid poison for in the living room: not so lucky.

Sometime this week, the men will come to tear out the yuccas.
The women will carve out the daisies.
A redbud tree waits at the nursery to be adopted;
Legions of utility workers attend my yard with blue and yellow spray.

I lay on the grass
My sprained ankle rests akimbo.
I gaze up and plan a shutter painting party as clouds drift by.
In the nearest slice of sun

The dog drops her head and sighs.

A Single Pansy at Haddam Neck FairAt the bottom of the dresser drawer
Under a twist of bras and
Fine-enough-to-donate
Ankle socks, I found the
Liner she used to protect the wood —
Or was it to protect the clothes? —
I’m not sure. Shouldn’t adults
Really know this now?
But I don’t line my drawers with
Newspaper. I don’t even receive
One anymore. How else have I
Let her down, dropped the ball on
All the better, best and bygone Ways?

Well, no more heat-and-eat Salisbury steak ovals
Floating in gravy are served, so
I’ve achieved that. That and
Lifting her onto the portable toilet when
Her legs became deadweight. And I achieved
Ordering the hospital bed, making
Small talk with the lanky boy-man who
Constructed it in the living room one day,
Then came back a few days later to
Pack it away. The damn chia seeds. Still
Behind the instant oats in Dad’s cupboard!
Why didn’t I toss them out with the
Pile of not-fine-enough-to donate t-shirts?

Ann and I had that flash of certainty,
Sure the old news in the drawer would be
Ancient, with ads for powdered penny soap and
Photos of mustachioed men. Where were you in
1999? She must have been standing right here
At the drawer on Timberline,
Laying out the paper, washing her hands before
Touching the whites, thinking her thoughts
About what’s for dinner and
Is there an afterlife and where exactly is
The Friday card group.

I was far away.
It was the El Nino year, the year
I bought my shirtwaist house, and forgot to water
The coreopsis, and for the last time
Gas was 99 cents a gallon. Then,
fear shaped itself as loneliness,
Not as a leaking bag body that takes 30 days to
Empty, that sloughs off eating,
Then walking, then speech,
And all muscle control
Like peeling skin on a
Sunburned life.

Six pressure-treated boxes in the backyard.
Cubical quadrilaterals waiting under
A flat snow. We aren’t always a
Summer jungle of tomato vines.

I’m writing “small stones” as past of Mindful Writing Challenge 2014.  If you care to participate, here’s the link. Feel free to read and enjoy more wonderful mindful posts from across the world on Twitter at #smallstone.

Sky

I keep hearing them say:
No Drama
No Drama
Yet, all our lives and all the world around is a series of dramas playing out.
Of characters passing across the thrust
Of hearts being broken and lives being twisted
Into unexpected shapes tumbling towards resolution.

What kind of no drama do they mean?
No drama, you cancer-girl.
No drama, you single mother.
No drama, you exhausted supermom
No drama, never-alone, it never-lets up homeschooler.
Stalwartness shall be your burden.

Go get lost in the garden, between the dried out chrysanthemums
And water the plants alone with your
Tears. No one wants to hear you, you
Aberration. You who dares speak
Louder than the crisped interstate hum,
You who feels its OK to say out loud
She disagrees. You who
Cries foul. Leave us.

We are busy cementing our
Feet in molasses pride. You girl
Dripping with your fat emotions,
Making puddles of
Noise and need and complications

Wherever you go–
“Get out of the way, drama queen” said them,
Which is
No person anyone has
Ever met, and
No human being at all.

(I kept hearing people saying “I don’t want any drama.” And “I’m glad when I can get the people with drama out of my life.”

I thought about this today, thinking about mental illness, women, and friendship and acceptance.

This poem came up)

Marlon, your mama and Jane Fonda and
The angels of babies with heart murmurs and
Baubo, humor’s goddess, have all gotten together
To decide how best to celebrate
You. Not with a feast. Not with
Dionysian debauchery, or some hallowed
String of days in which men carry wives or
Gas stoves in competition. Marlon, the women have
Gotten together not to carve your
Name in some rock or hard place. Instead
They have taken your laughter like
Stardust and sprinkled it on the
Soil. They have sown the crops into
Your perseverance and think to wait, wait,
Spinning the golden hay of summer in their
Dreams while the seed pods
Germinate. Marlon, the women press the
Clouds into service and wring from them their
Sweat. The mill stone wears itself out as miles of
Water tumbles away.
Then, rest. Under
Winter’s cover and
Time, slowly passing, Marlon, until some
Mythological morning breaks and
Eyes squint upon a jade and chartreuse
Landscape and you,
The season coming, later
Than expected, right at the
Hour due, and more perfectly
Than imagined.

Who is Marlon? Here he is.


Barnum Memorials - Courtesy Wires in the Walls on Flickr
The two of you browse the
Grass aisles of the gravestone shop

Stuck between then and now at Locust and Cherry, with
The truckers and the teachers passing.

Marble blocks scatter on the little
Hill and you squint in their glare.

You two know this road real well– so well you hardly
See the 24-hour pharmacy, the neon car wash.

None was there when this shed on the
Hill went up. When the family started providing.

Time slides past, snapshots inside a memory held
Weightless and you, both, dragging your feet.

You two. Determined to finish your tidy-up to-do
List, so you both can put this worry to rest.

On the low rise, at the intersection, the two of you, one
Balmy and plain old day.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="333"] Courtesy: Michael Corcoran[/caption]

If I never make it to Austin and, somehow, the
Longhorns and the old moviehouses get neglected, then
Let me remind you this isn’t
About the city I always wanted to see or the
Man I wanted to reminisce with.

This is about the day I stood in the
Middle of Tuesday in the place where
I now live on a patch of green weeds and it
Occured to me “I might never
See Paris again or eat Memphis barbeque or reach
Austin City Limits, or ever
Be relieved of virutal reality and halt the
Half-truth of Facebook Frances and
Sit with her again over an IKEA table
While our daughters play.”

Every live face I see
I take for granted.
Every touch is
Half-hidden inside a
Craving for more, for desire of what is
Yet to come. And yet,
For a moment, standing on my
Tuesday weeds, I saw the
Face of Facebook Him, of Mike,
Like an Icon, and He was
No one I knew or remembered.

I looked into the beautiful mystery.
The gulf between now and then.
The man who used to
Climb between the fresnels in that
Goatee and serape and
It occurred to me
I might
Just have to cruise it out
With the memories I have.