If I hadn’t asked who you were having dinner with that night
I wouldn’t be crazy lost now and you wouldn’t have moved to
Connecticut with an eyebrowed cooking woman: something I would
If I hadn’t asked if you liked sleeping alone maybe
we would have grown accustomed to each other sighing
into our dreams, a hip teaspooned into a hip, yours so much
fuller than mine, sailing on into the night, no navigational devices needed.
Bacon for breakfast.
If I hadn’t read her emails maybe I could have forgotten the alert messages
coming almost daily into my cerebral cortex. Messages telling me the ice was
thin though it was late summer.
If I hadn’t asked why you were leaving maybe I would still believe you
did love me though now I see all I need to do is be silent and I’ll
never learn that.
To be published in the Cape Rock
The Coming of the Snow
The hard, cold snow is here,
The kind that makes you wince.
The great, crackling steps one takes that sink unexpectedly,
Mother earth reminding you she’s but a heavy footfall away.
So a morning walk becomes impossible and the dog, depressed.
Your husband reminds you how he loves the winter but
You remember how warm sun feels and how each morning contains freedom.
There are those who live outside and those who live inside.
The watchers and the livers
Each needs the other to remind them what they miss
Not better or worse
I was thinking about the loyalty of the round gray stone outside my front door this morning. Preparing patiently to be washed by the rain. Not objecting to an occasional kick and the resulting change of side to the light. The stone sits outside my front door for as long as I want it there: it suffers movement silently, hears word it shouldn’t have to hear, and feels the hot sun and the cold evening chill. The stone is an object, this is true, but you can count on it every day and every minute to remain there where you placed it. Unlike the brown palm tree who sheds its leaves and is reborn each spring. Unlike the rose bushes that flower and die and flower again, unlike the spreading moon lighting the bleak mountain, the stone has no such cycle of life. It simply sits in wonder and allows the world to happen all the while retaining its dignity: all the while retaining its loyalty and most of all, its truth.
Once, long ago, I wrote a poem on Thanksgiving about a couple who were standing on a stone wall outside their house. They were wearing matching Fairisle sweaters with wreaths around their necks and were in their fifties. A bird swooped down and took the husbands sweater in his mouth and flew away with him. The wife was too embarrassed to explain what had happened so she spent the rest of her life ignoring the fact that he was gone.
Why am I telling you this story? I have no idea. I think I am telling the story because on these overly loud and food filled holidays I wonder if I made the right choices as I find myself not surrounded by family but surrounded by friends. It seems more peaceful this way. I am staying at a wonderful hotel in Half Moon Bay where the ocean pounds the shore constantly and it is impossible not to stop and look in wonder every minute one is outside. I am grateful to be here with friends having a good time and enjoying my life. I see many families here who are apparently happy with three or more generations of family milling around. Some of these families are noisy and some are quiet. I like the noisy ones. I have always longed to be Hispanic as those families seem to have the most lively fun.
Our Thanksgiving as children was generally over in one hour. My parents won the contest for the fastest eaters in the east. On Thanksgiving there were butter shaped turkeys on the butter plates and ice cream in the shape of a turkey. The butler carried all the platters to our table where we were each served in turn. If we went to my Grandmother’s things were usually more interesting as there she set up a children’s table where there was much less supervision. I was still sitting at the children’s table when I was 40.
I sat next to a lady at lunch whose husband was playing golf so she was lunching alone. I like to chat up strangers. Out of the blue she told me she and her husband had run away from Sacramento to escape their families. I said I understood and commented that there were many families who tried to escape each other even when living in the same house.
I love the clear truth of Thanksgiving and the comments of strangers. Hope all of you are enjoying a calm and peaceful time whether alone or with a group.
Daylight Savings Time
Winter’s claw is upon us
In the local parking lot at five in the afternoon
We scuttle for the supermarket doors
Sliding open and closed
And back hurriedly out of the marked white lines
Heading for home.
The dark mountains sigh and fold into their crevices
While the roads narrow even further
Making the trip home longer.
A reunion .
A hurricane is coming.
People behave as if they were members of an ant colony
Industriously hauling water, batteries, duct tape, condoms, and Cheerios.
Unlike the ants, they are not cooperative;
The rise of the wind is commensurate with the level of greed.
All the fresh water is gone already and it is only 2PM.
By 5 PM there are barricades in front of the A & P.
The ant people have adopted military dress and are bayoneting steel belted radials
The queen ant is directing the sand bag people
Who are erecting a barrier between Greenwich and Port Chester.
All the mid level ant people are instructed to remain in the center of the lot
And await being chosen.
(Just like dancing class, but no white gloves).
George Bush has declared a state of emergency
And organized a foot race for all presidential candidates
From Washington to New York.
Arnold Schwartzenager wants to participate but
Is told he is not right for the part.
As the hurricane crawls up the coast
George crawls under the table in the White House kitchen,
Looking for plutonium.
Laura tells him he traded it to Tony last month
For some toy soldiers.
The axis of the world has shifted
As if someone hit us on our heads and
Our eyes can’t refocus.
We are all walking sideways.
Our perspective is so short.
We have let go of hope and its golden rope of sunset.
Our desolation is in our bodies.
Our souls have been eaten already.
Nothing is moving today.
Neither the trees nor the grass
Not the top parts of the ocean
Nor the blacks birds over the path.
Nothing is moving and so we are still.
The heat falls onto us mid morning and children lose interest . Remember the sounds of summer: airplanes and barking dogs The Good Humor man’s truck, An echoing television from an open window. The hiss hiss of the sprinkler whipping around its three pronged heads.
I remember the damp, soft grass, a white eyelet nightgown, finding treasures in my Grandmother’s drawers while she napped. I stole a thimble but it didn’t help me.
It’s a sultry morning here in Maine: the kind that might make you think you were in Antigua waiting for an early morning coffee on the porch of a house overlooking English Bay and around you were the remnants of a late night party with one pale pink sandal cast off in the corner. You walk to the edge of the porch and gaze out over the bay and you notice you are alone. I wonder if one notices the beauty of a place when one is not alone? I wonder if the edge of night that has merged into the light of day would go unspoken about The warm breezes that could so easily be drying the sweet mornings of love makings in other houses would not be felt as poignantly if one were with another. The makings of a dream would be lost in other lost recipes and flour, butter and eggs would be cast aside to be forgotten. Breakfast should always be bacon no matter where in the world you are and those that say otherwise have no knowledge of what life is. Even British bacon has its merits and the smell alone is enough to bring you into nursery dreams of cream merging with stories that always end happily.There are spirits here on North Haven visiting me nightly: having asked for years what it is they cry for now I give them up. There are a few plaintive midnight cries but for the most part I am alone and peaceful. How many moments like this will I have until the next life, I wonder? I spent last night with my friend, Violet, who is 89. We went to a local wine tasting and she decided half way through the event to pour all the little bits of wine from her 5 glasses into one so she could enjoy it! Isn’t that the best idea? Kindove like what we should be doing in life!