A Warm October

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I waited for October’s chill to chase summer away

but instead she brought heat

a sick heat, like a fever.

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I watched the leaves, which should have ignited like flames of gold and amber,

shrivel, die and fall to the ground

then crumble under the feet of passersby who might or might not have noticed

that something was not quite right.

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In my lawn I noticed the squirrels

which should have been busy preparing for winter

forget what was their purpose

unaware that nature, although herself unburdened by the dictates of her own laws,

does not forgive those who ignore them.

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And snakes-I saw two on my morning walk.

One, a baby, I would have crushed underfoot

had I not noticed something wriggling across the pavement.

Another larger green serpent had been flattened by a car

at the end of my neighbor’s driveway.

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Night might well have been day

as I lay in bed, damp and awake.

And that thing that was wrong

began to push through my skin

leaving impressions

like slashes of a beast

on my chest.

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And, as the rest of the world rattled,

here it remained still

quiet

hot

October, insisting

like a ringing in the ears

that something was not quite right.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Last Days

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It’s just me

and you

and

the lake, still like a glass tabletop

the crickets, their song both beautiful and desperate

the sky, darkening a bit earlier each evening.

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At last, just us.

After a season of endless chatter, just us

and

the lapping of water upon the sand

the lonely drone of the plane passing overhead

the watersnake skimming the shore, seeking the sun’s warmth upon his back.

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Everyone else has gone.

They’ve abandoned you.

To avoid the inevitable goodbye?

Perhaps ours is a shared sadness.

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Perhaps that is giving them too much credit.

Perhaps they are just selfish.

Having wrung from you all the pleasure they could get,

they have walked away

without a thank you

without a backwards glance-

you now a distant memory

and, like all memories of years past,

soon forgotten.

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But you and I,

we are good.

Let us sit here together for as long as we are able.

I will miss you my friend when you are gone.

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For now, let us enjoy this perfection of

silence and still

sand and sky

water and me

with you.

 

Anxious Days

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Some days, trees are not trees

and I am not me.

I am a misplaced thing-

a small pile of sand on the second shelf of the china cabinet

next to a stack of teacups;

a single goosebump upon the arm of a woman sunbathing;

a nit on a bald man’s head.

I am contrary to the order of things-

a vortex running counter to its designated direction-

and everything pulled into my universe becomes contrary too.

Mothers tell bedtime stories about the souls’ of the damned.

The whispering breeze becomes the discordant notes of the organ master.

Day becomes night

and trees become demons.

*

On anxious days

everything stands in defiance of God

and fear prevails.

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Burden

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This poor life-we demand so much of her.  Give me happiness.  Give me success.  Give my children happiness and success.  We place upon life’s shoulders the burden of impossible expectations, expectations that she cannot possibly fulfill, and then we, feeling so entitled, label her a disappointment.

We have divided every year of life into four seasons, each functioning to help us achieve fulfillment. Autumn must bring vibrant beauty to inspire us and cool temperatures to prepare us to head indoors and begin creative projects and academic pursuits.  Winter, with her storms and frigid air, isolates and keeps us inside.  She rids us of all distractions so that we may keep our heads down and continue working undisturbed.  Then spring comes to tease us with her sweet air and gentle breezes, letting us know that the time has almost come to move away from our desks.  Her’s is a balancing act-keeping us focused on our work with just enough wet weather and gray skies to finish what we have started, but also alerting us with her blossoming flowers and vibrant greenery that the days of toil are coming to a close.  Then summer…..

Summer, the happiest of all seasons, has the greatest responsibility-to give us rest and in giving us rest allow us recharge. By lying out on sandy beaches and listening to waves lap upon the shore, we are supposed to quiet or minds, yet, at the end of ten weeks, we also expect to emerge better, clear headed and knowing how we should march forward into the coming year.

Sometimes, however, life does not cooperate and sends summer to us a bit weaker than we remember her in the past.  We lie in the sun, but our bellies still quiver with worry.  We sit quiet, but our minds do not rest.  Summer’s long days seem to race faster than winter’s short ones.  And now August has arrived.

August has arrived, reminding us how quickly time moves.  We are now faced with the task of figuring out the answers to all the questions-the answers that summer was supposed to bring. We now must race to the sound of the cricket’s song, which will grow increasingly louder with the passing days, and find the answers before fall is upon us-all the while hiding our disappointment in summer, in life, and perhaps if we have leaned anything, in ourselves.

 

Poem About My Mother Written at 11:26 Last Night

 

Last night, I recalled a beautiful moment from my childhood between myself and my mother.  This memory seemed to come from nowhere.  My husband had returned late from work, and we were standing in the kitchen, talking about something I cannot even recall, and suddenly, there it was, this memory.  It was so vivid; I abruptly (and rudely…I am sorry Giorgio) broke away from our conversation, opened the computer and began to write it down.

I don’t often remember the happy moments with my mother, so I felt an urgency to record it, to find a way to preserve it, so that the day my memory fails it will not be lost forever. I wrote about a time so long ago, but that last night felt so close. As I wrote, I felt and heard my mother as she was then.  I felt myself  as a small girl, cradled in the arms of her mother.

I wrote with longing for my mother as she was in that moment and with sadness for what could have been and was not-she had so many dreams for how her life would be.  Mostly, I wrote with love. As I wrote, I felt the same love I had for my mother when I was so little.  It was pure, not tainted by anger and resentment.

When I was done and just before I hit publish, a thought struck me.  Once I hit publish, once I send this out into the world, into the blogosphere, what if the memory disappears?  What if I had just transferred it from my mind to the computer?  The brain’s capacity to retain and retrieve is limited.  What if our minds are inherently lazy, unwilling to fight to keep memories that have already been wrapped up neatly into text and boxed into notebooks and computer screens, happy to free up space for the lifetime of more memories that will clamor for a place in the mind’s limited storage facility?

And what of recalled and recorded memories? No matter how hard we strive to remain true, the written word is never as pure, as real as the actual memories and feelings we hold within us.  Those are invariably filtered as we strive to match feelings to words and translate the unspoken into a code of letters and commas.

Last night, I did not want to lose that memory of my mother, to send it away in a document that couldn’t possibly express what really was and what I really felt.  I prefer to keep her, as she was that night so long ago, close to me, in me, in my memory.  Perhaps, years from now, when my capacity to recall becomes so diminished that my memories begin to escape, then I will hit publish.   Until then, I will remain the keeper of that moment.

March Sunday

IMG_0411March Sunday

It’s still winter

nearing spring

buried under mounds of snow.

Not knowing what to do

we decide to have brunch

at an old New England tavern.

The drive there is long.

My husband’s soundtrack of Venditti,

Nada and Vasco playing

I feel a headache coming on.

Because the low winter sun reflects off the snow

and pierces my eyes

and my heart.

The drive is so very long and slow

reminding me of so many drives before

on Sundays in March

to visit old relatives

locked away in old New England institutions.

After brunch, I suggest that we visit

the charming bookstore down the street.

I hope we won’t run into her.

She lives in the same town.

What are the chances?

We go.

It is charming

until she walks in the door.

How is everything, she asks

Fine.  Everything is fine.

As fine as anything can be

On a Sunday in March.

Melt Away

Seasonal Ambivalence

Yesterday I missed you and mourned what I have lost.

Today I mourned for you and all that you have missed.

Somewhere along the journey through memory’s cloudy landscape

may we meet and discover that we mourn

because we miss each other.

Let not our memories be like snowflakes

that when they touch the not yet frozen ground

melt away.

May the snow swirl above

in an eternal dance

and the two of us embrace

and remember our best selves

together

and only what was good.

All the rest can fall to the ground

and melt away.

 

 

 

End of Seasons

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She asked so sweetly

if summer would come back.

And I thought of you.

About how you would soon pass

and not return for another season.

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The finality of it

so profound.

You have almost fully departed

disappearing as you breathe.

*

As the crickets quietly sing

as the leaves turn

as the season changes

and they and you fall.

*

And as the past no longer exists

nor will you.

But in the present

you will always dwell in my heart.

And there I will carry the piece of you

that I knew

that was ours

through the seasons

until I too pass.

 

*This was originally posted on September 2, 2014.

Japanese Maple in Late November

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Leaves fall,

uncloaking the grand oak.

The cricket’s song

drifts away with the breeze.

But the delicate Japanese maple

remains glorious and resplendent.

*

Lying under a charcoal sky,

leaves falling like memories of time past,

I turn my head and see you

in the distance.

You-the ruby-haired queen

standing on the rampart

watching battle weary soldiers fall.

And I understand hope.

 

Originally posted on Quirk N Jive on May 22, 2015

 

 

The Warden’s House

 

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The hill

Four houses

Forest behind

Fields ahead

A dead end

The horizon

A prison

That place

Autumn

Dead leaves

Bare trees

My mother

Speaking in tongues

The flames of hell

The flame of the spirit

Secrets and stories

Legends of the dead

Bones in the woods

Sounds in the night

An insomniac child

Wide awake

Midnight rapping on the door

Something crashing to the floor

The dog atop the stairs

Snarling

The house next door

Looming

Once inside

A cavernous red room

A feeling of doom

Something wrong

Innocence knows

A dry fountain in back

Some toads

Chirping of crickets

Honking of geese

The noisy silence of death

The song to which demons dance

Peaking in windows

Smashing down gates

The song of that place

On the hill

Where the Warden’s house stood.

*

Just the other night

I visited that house

In my dream

The red room

The living room

The basement door

I saw it all

All that dwelled there then

All that dwells there now

In my dreams

Of that house

On that hill

In that place

Where dead leaves fall

in the eerie silence

of a haunted past

 

This poem was originally posted in October 2015 as “The Neighbor’s House.”