I have carefully peeled back the skin of a hundred snakes and left their twisted forms curled around mesquite as so many skirts. Canadia geese follow carefully worn paths across an October sky undeterred by storm clouds giving chase from the west. A wolf wanders down from the tree line to the edge of the highway. She can taste the approach of winter, bitter on her tongue, her coat grown thick, watching for a buck to be thrown to the gravel shoulder by a passing truck. In my closet I have a pair of boots, nothing more than simple cowhide.
First Appeared in Amethyst Review (Canada), Vol. 8, No. 2, Winter 2000
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.
The rain came sideways today, or almost so. The cat decided that if she needed a bath, she’d give it to herself and opted to watch the storm through the sliding glass door to the lanai. When it ended, she ventured back out, checking out the various and sundry chairs, all hers she assumes, and settled for the recliner in the inner corner, as much for dryness as comfort, but clearly offering both. She invited us out to join her, but all of the other seats were damp from the storm. She didn’t see what that was a problem, she had only the one coat, we could change clothes any time we wanted. We decided to watch her through the sliding glass door.
It is the Italian season in the southeast. This has nothing to do with the country, its food or language. Well a bit to do with food. It is hurricane season here, and when a storm arises, you can be certain most of us begin to scan the web for information, for weather can quickly become our nightmare. But NOAA and others know we are thristy for information, and perhaps that almost everyone loves Italian food, so they feed us ever changing, ever shifting spaghetti models. Pass the red sauce please.
Step right up, don’t hang back, come and watch the fool perform for you. You know me, bedecked in motley emotions worn like so many colorful rags, a suit of too many shades and hues, all displayed for your entertainment. See if you can find ten shades of anger as I prance around in front of you. Count the five flavors of tears that start and stop like a passing storm. Laugh at me as I pirouette, a dervish who loved blindly long after the love of my patron had died. See me in my fool’s cap, the bells of rage and guilt dangling from its points. If that isn’t enough to bring out a laugh, watch as I rip out my heart and lay it at your feet, still beating to the rhythm of the song to which she grew deaf so long ago. Rain your scorn on me as I stumble across the stage, for though they ring hollow, it is them that I most crave, a redemption that no monarch could hope to offer. Step right up, don’t hang back, come and watch the fool perform for you and do not pause to think that you could as easily be here, on this stage, and I out there marveling at you, wondering what you did to ever deserve such a fate.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)
It is difficult explaining to a child, even one who has reached the age of 40, that you once knew all there was to know. They are certain they know more than you, and they know all there is to know so, a fortiori, you could not know all that there is to know, period. They will say this with a certain smugness born, they believe, of the knowledge that they know quite everything. But there is still a perverse pleasure in watching their smugness collapse like a house of cards in a storm, when you remind them that there was so much less to know when you knew everything, and so it will be for their children when the reckoning comes.
It washed up on the beach this morning, stopped right at my feet, as I stared down at it, examining it carefully. It message was clear at first, a tale too hard to swallow, of creatures tossed about by a storm that no one saw, from an age in which no one now alive could have experienced. The message described a magic land of which it gave only had a brief glimpse, a land that was constantly in flux and perpetually out of reach. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine such a marvelous place, and as I did it receded back into the ocean from which it emerged, merged with all of the others, and I was left with only this dream of it.
The Royal Poinciana is in full bloom, its brilliant flame has led the sun to take jealous refuge in the clouds but we know not to be complacent.
Mother nature it is said, and we are loathe to argue, can be at times the most fickle of bitches and we suspect that it will not be long before she brings forth still another tropical storm, a tantrum in which the jacaranda’s beauty must cede to her repressed envy, scattered at our feet, a warning, perhaps, but nonetheless a moment of beauty that even nature cannot deny us.
We crossed the Hudson this afternoon on a Dutch named bridge in a driving rain so strong you could hear little over the beat of the wipers throwing sheets of water. You wondered why the superstructure was only on the Eastern end. I wondered why they had to have a Dutch name no one can translate. The river’s surprisingly wide here and you can’t even see the dead fish or the waste from the plants up river, its just a silver sheet of water and the slashing of the wipers and that name no one can translate.
We are obligated to carry memories, and as we get older the burden grows ever heavier, we bend under its weight, knowing we dare not lose even one for once castoff, the weight is carried off like the smallest feather on a storming wind. Soon enough it is we who will become the burden that others must carry and we hope they will willingly shoulder the load lest we become the excised dust of forgotten stone grown over with weeds.