For the longest time I thought I might become
I could be Norwegian and learn the language well so people would say how
no one could tell I wasn’t a native.
My hair would miraculously turn blond.
It would be ok to like sex.
I like the sounds of their desserts.
Or I could be a lawyer in Manhattan wearing crispy tight suits in black with very high heels and click click click across the court room floor stating my case with brilliant red lips and always winning.
Rootless like a malformed carrot I
refuse to flourish in one place.
I know this is a problem this rootlessness.
It’s prevented me from
applying myself to much of anything: love, housekeeping, friendship, home repair… you get the story. I kept a suitcase filled with cash hidden in my house and a bag packed with essentials which changed from month to month.
Now my rootlessness fits right in. No one is going anywhere but everyone would like to be rootless.
Where will I go when I can go anywhere?
Hawaii because I can’t get the music of palm trees out of my head.
Like Eloise, I could move into the Four Seasons hotel on the Big Island and go down to dinner every night sitting at the bar overlooking the lapping ocean generously tipping the bartender so that he always saved my seat.
And oh yes there is the spa with palm leaves that rattle above your hut while you are having a massage. Preferably a Lomi Lomi massage and I don’t know what that is.
I have entertained myself all day thinking of places I would like to go when I can go anywhere. Frankly, it may be better in my imagination. That’s been a life long problem of mine.
I forgot how long winter is.
It doesn’t extend from November to March
as it should but it’s disobedient and sometimes hides inside a heart and a chamber to the left or to the right and there you are with only a part of your heart functioning because of winter or it’s a fact. You think it will get better but in fact you’re wrong because once something is frozen it’s never the same. Even a hamburger isn’t as flavorful once defrosted. I used to think that people could learn over time that frostbite prevented circulation and thus freedom however experience has taught me that if you let something freeze it can never really be brought back to life appropriately again.
Nothing is moving today.
Neither the trees nor the grass
not the top parts of the ocean
nor the blacks birds over the path.
The heat falls onto us mid morning and
lose interest in torturing the dog.
I think I hear
the Good Humor man’s truck,
an echoing television from an open window,
the hiss hiss of the sprinkler whipping
around its three pronged medusa heads,
over the damp, soft grass.
Inside, a white eyelet nightgown’s
rustle, moving metal treasures in my
Grandmother’s drawers while she napped
with her eyes open.
My Mother’s Hair
My mother’s hair always escaped
from under her red kerchief or the
lacquered on for control and the hair
dancing in a night club in Manhattan
even when she was in labor with
one of us. You can’t control wildness.
My mother lay, legs askew, baby
coming, never having to push as Dr. Leroy
removed us with forceps while her hair was
dancing at the Stork Club and her waist, so
turning sideways she could have been
an exclamation point or a bent spoon.
Her hair, curled in the heat and the moist
music, was happy as rhythm was the
clef of curl and the smoke, the smoke,
smoothed her out and persuaded her
life could be El Morocco and the possibility
of finding Mr.Rich.
Even after she found him she
worried he wouldn’t stay. He told her to
her hair softer. It was always
touch and go but he made the rules.
Older, her hair curled around nurses
who loved her sweetness while her children
longed to hear her truth.
You see, life was a silken tendril and a
TV dinners and flowered dresses with waists
cinched by men who knew how to lead.
Scissors hadn’t been invented and music
could anesthetize freedom. Hair could go
Our Front Hall
Our front hall had a very tall grandfather clock at the foot of the stairs keeping watch over the household. No one could wind it but my father and the clock defined the nights in regular chimes reaching everyone’s ears in everyone’s bedroom.There was a front hall table made of lustrous mahogany where mail and packages were placed daily.The legs of the table looked like a young girl with four legs curtseying all at once. I know because I spent a lot of time under there waiting for God knows what. My favorite part however In this wonderful area of our house was the front hall closet which no one could put anything in except for my father. It was his personal closet for his overcoat and his hats and his umbrellas and his galoshes. I don’t remember hearing we weren’t supposed to go in the closet so I went in the closet quite a bit. There was a shelf the hats were on that had a thumbtacked piece of decorative ribbon that was ruched: something I had never seen before. I took some delight in pulling a piece of it off and seeing what it felt like. My father had four or five coats in there and most of the coats were some range of the color gray. There were cashmere coats, and wool coats, and cotton coats, and canvas coats. The coats had a big life and seemed to go out a lot. Sometimes alone, and sometimes in pairs the coats went out in the world: across oceans and in airplanes, office buildings, and houses not ours, down inside boats, outside on sidewalks. They always came back home slightly different than when they had left. I knew this because when I went in the closet I would stand up inside each coat starting with my head going into the bottom because they were buttoned up, you see, and I would shimmy myself up to usually just the lowest button because my father was very tall and I was still short. I would stand there and breathe in the outside world imagining where he had been and who he had seen and the smell of old Spice would anesthetize me against the real world. In the closet I created whatever I wanted sometimes for hours. No one ever looked for me. I stood so still inside a coat I became a part of its life.
There’s something so pleasing about the feel
of a fiddlehead fern on a tongue,
so satisfyingly round and with a squelchy sound
when bitten open and savored,
one can imagine dancing a jig,
or chasing a pig,
maybe laughing a lot
if eating while hot
and the cares of the world are forgot!