Saturday, December 17, 2011

Far From It

Every morning I tie
a capelet of sorrow
around my neck,
letting the velvet
plush, as dense as
a cattail’s, weigh down
my shoulders,
my glance~~
even now,
when Grandmother fluffs
her feather bed,
and the ground hugs
a comforter of white.

I measure time in bowls
of tea,
like Goldilocks testing
her tongue:
Too Hot!  Too Cold!

And each night
I fold paper cranes
into my sleeves,
bright and jagged
as the sorrel
and frisée,
still green
in the snow.

Designed to fail

And so I befriended a little boy
and he trusted me and I him.
We’d tell each other stories
from our day;
mostly true,
some pretend.
He told me of the backyard,
the dirt world,
the little berms of daisies
and snail swirled ponds.
And I gave him my wisdom
of the grown-ups:
how we think that they’ll
never lie or let us down,
but inevitably they do;
they’re designed to.
And in that moment
of disappointment,
we bow to them,
and acknowledge
their broken muddiness,
as also our own.

Later, I heard that his family
was moving away.
I didn’t know where.
I stood on their vacant lawn,
trying to remember my number
to leave for him on a receipt,
a cookie fortune in my pocket,
a cracked toy tractor plastic piece.
It began to snow and I still could not
write the number where I could be
reached in case of emergency.
Even if I did remember,
wouldn’t it get left behind,
somehow, only to become
a scooting gutter canoe
in the thaw.

 Oh how, oh how
I didn’t want to let go
the sticky frog summer
of his smile
when he saw me.
 Oh how, oh now
to know
a phone line would never come
close enough
to save me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Never Trust a Sailor on Dry Land

The Addict and Me, Part IV
Never Trust a Sailor on Dry Land

Back to the romance, as it were.

We arrived in town.  I was smitten.  S. stood in the blazing sunlight outside the bus station in his suit jacket and jeans, a cigarette dangling, backpack slung to one side, joking with his mom on his cell, smoky blue shades over his brown eyes, just the right combination of urbane and offbeat.
Mom held court at a local coffee house and we went to meet her there.
She got up from her table that held a small pile of Smithsonian’s and newspapers and other journals.  She took off her reading glasses and gave me a warm hug.  I liked her immediately.  Mom was lively and chatty and I watched as S. brought his energy up to match hers.  But she was a mountain stream in spring, a freight on the open rails; she kept rolling.  S. began to flail his hands in agitation as he tried vainly to interject.  I instinctively reached my hands across the table to hold his, to calm him.  His mother had about a hundred suggestions on what we should do.  I hadn’t eaten anything but a scrap of a donut for about six or seven hours and was famished.  This brought approbation from her.  What was S. doing?  Here his guest was about to faint from hunger.  Mom described a few places nearby and their menus, at least what she would order.  There was a nice deli down the street.  The ice cream parlor on the corner also had sandwiches and soup, perhaps.  Didn’t they have soup?  Would I like some soup?  We could also go to her place in the foothills and have fresh Colorado peaches and ice cream.  S. and I finally decided to go to the deli.

At the deli I ordered an Eggplant Parmesan sandwich and S. got a Rueben.  We sat on a bench outside as I inhaled my sandwich and S. called his sister.  She had just recently had a baby, her first, the first grandchild for both families, and they were all getting together at a restaurant for dinner.  S. was too nervous to eat his sandwich.  I didn’t know it at the time, but he was nervous about my meeting the baby.  He thought that since I didn’t want children of my own that I hated them.  It wasn’t true.  In party situations, pets and babies are practically safety nets for the socially awkward.  At the restaurant, I politely said hello to everyone and then got down to cooing over the baby.  She didn’t or wouldn’t judge me or ask me any embarrassing questions.  I could just smile and hold her little fingers while the grown-ups talked.  Since we had just eaten, we didn’t stay for dinner and as quick as we were in, we were out. All was well in my eyes.  I was entering S.’s world and I wanted to know everything about him.  There was so much I didn’t know, so much which would take a long time to understand.

S. and I had planned to go hiking in the Rockies the next day, so we had to make a grocery run to get gorp and such.  I love grocery stores, especially in new places.  I find fruit and vegetable displays mesmerizing, even if I’m not buying any.  Here was a large bin of peaches for less than a dollar a pound! The butter had a picture of an elk on it!  I needed some coffee and yogurt and granola for breakfast. We picked up some gorp, but I also wanted chèvre and crackers. We needed to buy a knife if we were going to get cheese.  I had promised to call in to a friend back home who was worried about me flying off to see some guy I had met on the internet.  So, while S. was off hunting for a small paring knife, I called my friend and told him everything was fine, S. was just off looking for a knife, ha-ha-ha. 

In my mind, everything was fine.  I was having a good time.  But as I started to look at dried fruits and nuts, I could see that S. was getting fidgety.  “I just can’t stand fluorescent lights for too long.” he said.  OK, we could go.  He apologized again in the parking lot, “I needed to get out of there; it was taking too long.”  As we drove back to his place, I wanted to put my hand on his thigh, his knee, something; but I felt a wall had gone up.  He was silent. 

He had a small room in a house with space enough for a desk and a bed.  We put groceries away and climbed on the bed to watch a movie.  There we were, inches apart on top of the covers, but those inches felt like a wide gulf.  I saw his eyes start to flutter shut and I thought, “Now!  I could just lean over now and quickly kiss him.”  But he soon opened his eyes and kept stiffly far away.  I didn’t dare breach this gap between us.  He looked almost fearful.  When the movie ended, I left to go to my motel room and sleep.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Posh Puja

Darjeeling Train Tracks in the Himalayas

Come by train, my love,
Your heart straining
through the rusting heat of Delhi,
From the dust rise up
And come
To a lake in Kashmir,
Beneath the Himalayas~~
I’ll be waiting.

Follow my voice,
Whispering your name,
Soft as pashmina,
Through supple fields of semolina.
And we’ll embark,
Shikara together~~
Your feather cockaded,
My pale orchid veil,
In the green-grey rippling
Silk moiré waters,
We’ll shyly eye each other’s reflection.

There we’ll filigree sigh,
the air, crushed pearls between us;
The rosewater sky will deepen to dusk.
A single gold thread of light will bind us.
I’ll touch your feet with mine,
Your hands, I’ll clasp.
Under the red canopy,
Sheltered together,
The heavens will shower us with flowers
At last.

A Shikara docked on Dal Lake, Kashmir

Monday, December 5, 2011

Your Name

I want to hold your name
As a book I keep reading—
Hands aching into the night.
I want to pin it in my hair
A bright shining jewel—
Wear it round my wrist
A jangling charm.
Let it follow me adoringly
Then lead me like hounds,
Ebullient and braying,
Into the woods
Where frozen I crouch,
Your name
Like a secret
In my mouth.

May 2007

Love the Fearless Artist in You

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Are you rocks or roots, now.
Clumps of dirt from heaven
Drum down and drown the yellow pine.
Black thorns and shriveled hips
Bristle under the grey skies.

A box of chocolates,
A heart held
In sweaty palms,
Slubbed red ribbons tied thick,
A handprint left
A slight shudder
On lily silked flanks,
Lupines and Anise Hyssop kisses
Uprooted and crumbled,
Drawn from the elk-flecked meadow,
New & sweet, spotted like a fawn,
Sleeping soft shallow breaths,
A whispered promise to the crook of a tree,
No names carved,
Only an impulse