Every morning we are able, we go out on the lanai and have our fruit bowls then our cappuccinos with toast from her homemade sourdough whole wheat bread, and watch countless birds fly out of the wetland that abuts our yard. The cat is always awaiting our arrival, usually sleeping on one of our oak rockers. She will look up at us, yawn and when we nod, amble over to her “cat condo” where she knows her morning treats will appear. She will announce her thanks and slide back to the rocker for her morning nap, knowing she can watch the birds arrive later when she is far more rested for she reminds us that cats are nocturnal.
The ghosts of my birth parents blow into my dreams as so many white sheets torn from the clothesline by gale winds, fly over me, at once angels and vultures carrying off memories created from the clay of surmise and wishful thinking.
I invite their visits, frail branches to which to cling in the storms of growing age, beginnings tenuous anchors to hold against time, knowing the battle cannot be won, but take joy in skirmishes not to be diminished by an ultimate failure I have long come to accept.
We marched for hours, going nowhere really, but nowhere was the point of the marching so we achieved the goal the Air Force set. We didn’t even think it odd that they made us shave our heads, so we’d all look like fools, there was a war on and we were in the military, so we had already proven that point. We were the smarter ones, as it turned out, enlistees who’d spend our time on bases getting the pilots ready to fly into the danger we knew we had so carefully avoided, and for us the greatest risk appeared daily in the mess hall.
First published in As You Were, the Military Review, Vol. 13, 2020
The finches sweep from bush to feeder in a gentle inverted parabola appear head high with a pride reserved for those who fly. The chain link fence is for them no barrier but a honeycomb of perches, full on a warm February afternoon, their song threatening to silence the heart of winter.
I’ve always been a bird person, perhaps it is just jealousy their ability to fly unencumbered, encased, to lift up by will alone. Here it is all about water, the Muscovy ducks waddling up to me each morning, pleading for the handout they should now know will not be forthcoming, at least when anyone else is around to cast disapproving glances or worse, and the coots, pairs swimming in the fountain ponds are not ducks they claim, we of the lobed toes and flashes of white between the deeply set eyes. But above all it is the Egyptian goose his old Jewish man clearing throat honk that catches my ear and not just any old Jewish man, but Billy Crystal as Miracle Max, and I half hope his partner warbles like Carol Kane.
Once upon a time isn’t such a timeless expression if you take time to consider that time doesn’t actually fly nor does it march on, and if it is truly on our side we wouldn’t need to buy it. I don’t need it to smell the roses and it doesn’t wait for me, although I am still human and just killing it, but perhaps neither of us have time for this.