Summer 1955

Summer 1955

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

children

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.

Our Front Hall

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.

If I hadn’t asked

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

never be.

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 Hard, Cold Snow

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

Just different.

Ode To A Stone

                                                      Ode to a Stone

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.

Thanksgiving

"Be the master of your destiny." -- ...
Image by Wonderlane via Flickr

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

On the Way to Work
Image by Old Shoe Woman via Flickr

                                                     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

Accepting anyone

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 .

Hurricane on the east coast

The eye of Hurricane Isabel approaches North C...
Image via Wikipedia

Hurricane Isabel

 

 

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

For misbehavior.

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

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.