From the sky, like rain on a sunny day,
blazing like arson, a stranger walked in,
shook my hand and asked how I fared.
His hand melted goo through my fingers.
Jumped back in warped skill, he took me,
fled with my expression still open wide,
shut tight in frightened delighted airspace.
And we toured the streaming veins of time,
spinning til the G’s popped open our eyes.
By then his smile lingered Cheshire drawn
while the faint stain painted a rose dying
in my hand’s palm he clasped as life lines.
When the well runs dry the sea gulls cry.
When the firefly lights go dark they die.
When lovers leave to marry someone else
removing love’s chess game rook itself,
no black unchecked a queen yet survives.
When the well runs dry the words go sere.
When the howls sound out with nary a tear.
Then opportunities swing in and then out
since you never knew they clamored about
though they hovered over you ever so near.
When the well runs dry nothing left I fear.
Knock, knock, knocking
They constantly want inside
takers disguised as networkers
giving me something I don’t need
just so they can. I don’t want them.
I crave holing, gathering up my wits
acute, incisive, slipping out my ears.
Who can write with so much chatter?
so much irrelevant noise, never ending
polluting the pristine powder of ideations
pure and unsullied, untouched and virginal?
There, freshness whisks, tucked away, shiny
bright and ready to reflect the sun of its making.
Seems befitting that on this weekend of gratitude, I conclude this huge though not impossible endeavor with the following:
While reintegrating to my life by inches, loving the smallest favors first like the grip of a long handled toothbrush or the pleasure of a private shit and shower, my own bed with more than two inches of mattress and a box spring in the quiet of my home, ragged as it was and is, snuggled inside the lefthand loop of a cul de sac; then appreciating bigger things like the love of a family that has been loving me–hard–more than I let myself feel, all this time.
My family, blood and adopted, came through for me in a way that shocked me, even though it could not have been more predictable. They wrote, visited, and watched; they stood by and pitched in. They witnessed helplessly as I crumbled and paid enormous sums to secure my freedom, cried for me in my grief but did not pity me nor make themselves the heroes; they took care of me.
JM stepped up for me and suffered like the brave and strong he never knew he was, taking up the mantle where I had dropped it. He came through for all of us, doing whatever he had to, and he proved to himself he was strong, something he needed to know but couldn’t since he had never needed to before. That was my job–ensuring that no one needed to be strong. I coddled them as organizer, unifier and fixer. Now they took up the reins and showed themselves worthy of the task. And I received.
Once again, just like the last ten or more years, I got to host Thanksgiving dinner for my loud, wacky family, both immediate and extended. I spend days cooking and cleaning for this event, pulling a 14 hour day of non-stop cooking, serving and cleaning today. And the clean up will not be done for another couple of days, maybe three or four dishwasher loads on top of a few sink loads of dishes by hand and dismantling the serpentine table and chair arrangements wending through the dining and living areas. This year there were thirty of us, including the usual stranger who has no place to go for Thanksgiving. I am proud of my family members for offering a spot at our table–and there is always one or two each year. I love my family. They’re good people.
I have the great good fortune to belong to a family that can gather once or twice a year like this and break bread together, catch up on lives, loves and laughs. I take great care to provide them with a memorable meal and gathering, cooking two turkeys, one barbecued and one roasted, accompanied by apple-leek stuffing and cider gravy, the butternut apple cider soup they all love and rave about all year long, and pumpkin pie from scratch. And everyone else brings the wonderful sides: mashed and sweet potatoes, fresh asparagus in butter sauce, fresh cranberry sauce, honey baked ham (Dad doesn’t care for turkey), root vegetable medley, and pies, lots of pies. We love our tradition, and these foods make up our tradition no matter who has been added or subtracted from our gathering.
Though she stays in the back room now, unaware that her entire beloved family that she grew and raised and helped raise, my mom is still with us bodily, and sometimes mentally. But I am hopeful she knows with some other part of herself that we are here, senses it deep within her neurons, some vibrations. And I am so grateful to have her, have them, and have all that I have. I truly won the lottery. I hope I never take that for granted.
Peace and love to you and yours,
What they and the entire jail system missed or ignored, though, is the futility of punitive measures. So many of these women young and old had much worse lives outside of jail. They would easily trade the abuse–constant shouting, cursing, shoving, terrorizing and haranguing–for the safety and regularity of meals and meds in jail. All of their efforts to harass, abuse, demean and dehumanize had already been done on the streets by drug addled family, friends and lovers, or poverty, pimps and official and unofficial authorities on the streets. They were impervious to the abuse. The only ones who suffered the doled out intended intimidation were the rarer folks like me who somehow found themselves swept up in a hurricane of their own misstepped making, befuddled and shocked. The rest could care less. Jail was temporary and worse awaited them on the outside.
“Again, you know I don’t judge; I respect your relationship. I’m never here to tear you or J down. Who am I to do more than put myself in your place–even as I am merely me–and wonder? That’s all. I imagine your life in my body and mind. It does not work that way, but I cannot help but do it. You know I love you.”
“I do.” ((hugs))
“Drink up. I have to go back to work.”
While driving back to work, my thoughts cycle.
“The shape of our relationships doesn’t differ much–this duality that appears like incompatability to those on the outside.”
You and I, you see, are so different, from such different worlds, you the straight and me the curvy, you the narrow and me the expansive. You like yours and I prefer mine. You know you’re right and I constantly doubt. To you, absolutes are real. To me, most everything is relative to time, place, and circumstance. You see global, while I see local, though sometimes we switch sides, me going long term and you going short. In the ven diagram, we intersect at the sliver overlap of our two circles. We meet in a horizontal world without borders, boxed and invisible, dimmed before each other, not in full light. Perhaps we must, or see the impossibility of us and kill the thrill. And yet, that divide, that delusion of polarity, opposition and contrariness keeps us interested, coming back for more. N’est ce pas?
I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I subscribe to chaos. I believe in the randomness of the universe as movement, collision, coincidence and correspondence. I believe in an ontology of chance. Cause-and-effect is real, but we humans are not always accurate tracers of chains. We are a lazy species, thus the teleology of throwing-up-our-arms-at-space with a surrendering shake of the head and declaring that the proof of the universe’s supporting life lies in our being here–the best science has to offer after unsuccessfully tracing the mathematical and natural laws to their inevitable ends in hopes of figuring out everything, just everything. We theorize origins and evolutions. We interpret from variables of experience, anatomy, observation and subjectivity. I do not trust absolutes. I believe in intention and will, though not necessarily in intended results. Thus speaks the rational mind of me.
The smoke and whispers, the mystery of which intuition is born, lean into those uninformed leaps of faith inside an unthinking gut and take me in another direction: a life unfolds according to its makeup, an already-has composition that merely needs room to spread out and manifest. Choices come from inherent brain patterns in conjunction with pathways generated in reaction to lived experience. This orchestrated tapestry of evolving human is the carpet unrolling from birth to death, a definitive starting and ending point that always ever was because of whom I was born, when and where. In that way, choices logical and whimsical alike, are prefigured, patterns predetermined even in their ensuing alterations and modifications. A determinism I am not comfortable with somehow associates the mystery of the inexplicable to me–my fuzzy teleology.
I call him a drifter,
but who remains static?
No thought ever nailed itself
down, tacked to airless walls.
No body stops unceasingly,
all that pumping and throbbing,
ever moving cogs and wheels
the sentient and incognizant alike.
Even in death and decay, there
Stillness breathes a steady notion
but no such evidence exists.
Ever in motion, roving nomads,
we, the universe compels it.
The wall shook, rock crumbles beginning to fall even as the creature living underneath and behind it began slowly emerging, escaping the barrier. The image of my own making would take years to shatter.