A January Walk

It is January.

The cold air bites my face,

not a full, open-jawed bite;

tiny bites, like a fish nipping my legs while I swim,

small, sharp stings on my cheeks

my nose

my forehead.

*

Walk. A walk will lift your spirits.

*

The Christmas decorations have been taken down.

The trees have been discarded, thrown to the ground

at the edge of driveways, waiting to be picked up

by men who will throw them

into trucks and deliver them

someplace to be chopped into dust.

*

It is gray.

There is no snow.

Just a gray sky

and a dry earth

and trees

lifting their arms, begging,

beseeching, reaching their skeletal fingers

grasping for

            grasping for…

*

Move along. There is nothing for you to see here. Only houses.

*

There are only houses

and naked trees.

Houses-

square,

one atop another

on small, ever so small, square, parcels of land.

*

How do people breathe? I wonder.

I cannot breathe.

Walking is supposed to help.

*

I watched my mother go mad.

*

When I was a little girl, my mother once said, “I want a house just like that.”

I knew it was death.

A death house.

I live in such a house. I bought it myself.

*

I realize death is a square.

A box.

A tomb

where you place yourself

and bury yourself alive.

*

Some people do not realize they are dying.

I am choking,

choking up the last bits of my womanhood.

*

Some people live in those boxes.

They are monsters.

They make noise and rattle the walls

and wake their neighbors.

They do not care.

It makes them feel strong.

*

I used to bring my dog with me, but she can no longer walk here.

She has been bitten too many times,

bitten by violent dogs,

sad creatures

kicked and broken by violent men.

*

I see those men, walking out of their square houses,

getting into their trucks-giant trucks

that make up for their small

characters.

*

It is quiet.

I don’t want to die here.

*

I see a black cat sitting atop a stone wall.

It is watching me.

I walk past.

*

Poor dear. I do not wish to bring her bad luck.

Fox

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How she got in

I do not know.

She breached the fence

Somehow. Perhaps burrowing under

Like the weeds that invade from the neighboring

Yard. Or maybe she leapt, like a stallion

Over the wooden planks.

*

I watch her through the window.

Gorgeous, predatory,

Ready to lurch and bury herself

Into the leaf pile to play or

To Snatch up the unaware chipmunk and

Sink her teeth into its soft, fur-coated flesh.

*

I envy the fox,

Her bold assertion of her self

Claiming a territory that is not hers to claim;

In the moment, uncaring

Of anything other than her desires

And what sates her appetites.

*

I watch her.

She stands at the edge of the leap, heart

Racing with the anticipatory heat of excitement.

Still. Alive

*

Yet, she knows death.

She screeches in the night

Like an owl or a woman stalked

And caught, her gut about to be cut by the blade

Of a predator whose evils the fox cannot conceive.

The fox screams for her young.

Stay away. Stay away.

*

I watch through the window.

I too am standing at the edge of a leap.

And I remind myself that I too

may live.

Dinner with Family

When I was eleven, my mother took me to the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Standing in front of Freedom from Want, I listened

as the docent explained how Rockwell created the illusion of water

in the glasses. All that white and glass and water- the painting really

is a remarkable achievement; even I, a child, could see

that. But what most interested me about the work

was the guy in the lower right corner who looks like

*

the creepy uncle. Even now he unnerves me. Staring directly at us, wanting to know

if we’re in on the joke, asking, “You know that ain’t no water, right?

That’s paint. Here, have a sip.” But he’s saying it with his eyes

because Grandma taught him better than to use the word ain’t

and she sure as hell doesn’t know he drinks anything stronger than

tea. He must need a drink, sitting at that pure, pristine table, amongst all those nice,

clean, well-behaved people. What are they talking about?

Sports? Stocks? School? Grandma’s dinner? That turkey,

*

it does look delicious, but I bet it’s dry. Good thing those nice folks have something

to drink. My family is a lot like theirs, although we also imbibe in vodka and wine,

and when we  give thanks it is in the haze of the candlelit dusk where we sit at a table laid

with Waterford and Lenox, inebriated by our own lies, so many that, we can no longer discern the glasses from the water.

Roadkill

The chipmunk is flat.

It would peel off the pavement with little resistance

if not for the blood and entrails that hold it to the surface

like of a piece of glue soaked construction paper

stuck to a child’s school desk.

*

If one removes it with one’s hands, parts will come up

with ease. Some will need to be scraped-bits of ear, kidney,

fur to later be found in nail beds. The rest will remain

on the street until someone comes and shovels the remnants

of the small, once delicate body and throws it

away with the rest of the carnage

collected during the week.

*

What fate! Crushed by a behemoth-

a dramatic end for an inconsequential creature.

Now, only a flat, damp, skin sheet.

No trace of beauty.

No trace of itself other than the color

and the tell-tale black and white stripes.

*

Leave it be.

Perhaps the crows will find the corpse.

They will pick at its flesh

and fill their bellies, offering it purpose,

and so, dignity.

Checked Out

I checked out

six years ago. Long before my mother

had checked out too.

For me (I cannot speak for her) it was like standing in line at the register,

the one with a slow cashier.

There was a moment

-a moment , the importance of which I did not understand.

What’s a moment

after all? I made the choice and chose

the wrong line.

The slow line.

The line where the person behind me spurned

the notion of personal space

and had a cold

and was coughing

and didn’t know,

nor care

to cover her mouth

nor turn her head.

And she wanted me to move

ahead, out of her way.

So she pressed and pressed against the barrier I thought I built

around myself but dropped the day I was born

to my mother who checked out  long before anyone, other than me,

ever knew.

So I stood in her-

not my mother’s but the woman’s standing behind me

-spit.

Small liquid droplets

shot forth from her red,

raw throat.

Those droplets

pushing me forward into a direction

I thought I had no choice but to go.

What I should have done was leave:

the cart in the aisle,

the million silly things I thought I needed to do.

I should have left it all

and walked away.

But I did as I should.

I did as mother would

and checked out

six years ago.

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2020-Distance

 

brown and orange bird on green tree branch

Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

There is a fine distance between myself and the robin.

There are seven yards.

There is the height of the branch.

There is the wall, and the window of my kitchen, the plate glass, the plaster, the brick.

There is my chair

And myself, perched upon it.

Me, still as the robin, enjoying this perfect, soft space

Where I can watch, unheard, unseen

Content with companionship from afar;

Content to observe, to know

Something other than myself, without myself being known;

Content to make this something part of me,

To live within my mind, my fantasies,

Allowing me to increase the distance

With a steady, slow retreat

Into a world away from this noise and hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

April 4, 2020-For my Husband on his Birthday

Just for today, let’s pretend all is well;

that once was, still is;

that a breeze blown from the right direction

can lift mountains

and carry shadows away into the night of another day.

 

Because, my love,

some things still are.

Some things still quiver under aging flesh.

Desire, though obscured by the burdens of time, still pulses.

Hope still begs to be seen

and light still shines

when your hand takes mine.

 

Would It All Be Mine?

sky space telescope universe

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If the ocean turned pink,

then it would be mine.

If the earth changed rotation,

it would be mine.

If the sparrows barked,

they would be mine.

And if the mice spoke,

they would be mine too.

If up became down and down up,

they would be mine.

And if sound became silence

and sight the blackness of night,

they would be mine.

 

If only I stayed silent.

If I had stayed silent

and the ocean turned pink

and the earth changed rotation

the sparrows barked

the mice spoke

and the universe turned itself inside out

and sound and sight disappeared

into the black void of an ancient catacomb

…if I stayed silent,

would it all be mine?

Surely, it would never be yours.