The Tangerine Tree

 
 
We lived at Quo Vadis then, a dumpy avocado colored complex 

across from the dying strip mall sputtering out, 

stores no one shopped or missed when they closed, belly up or dying out. 

Remember that pizza store with brothers in the name? 

There for 20 years, like an institution, and then closed its doors one day

no warning

though someone knew the owner had cancer.
 

We were in our twenties and striving, 

you selling pots and pans and me in school.

And Barry would be on the couch some days, 

popped out of nowhere watching t.v. while I was in the bathroom.

The apartment door was always open and he wasn’t shy.

Sometimes he would show up at the door and knock.

And there he would stand dressed in snow gear.

“Let’s go skiing.” 

No matter that we both had school and jobs.

And we would go.
 

I was trying out my domestic skills then.

So I grew house plants filling the light of the window,

hung in fives across the ever-open blinds.

Those were the days of open, unlocked doors, drop-in neighbors,

never closed blinds, royal blue apartments and sleeping naked.

We cared so much about the world and so little about everything

but the intimate and local, the near and myopic scope of our lives.
 

But it was just like you–who you are really–to toss those seeds

behind you,

without a thought to the life already existing in that pot, 

the spider plant fledgeling waiting to hang

though still nestled on the window sill 

waiting to flop its trestled wings over the burnt clay lip.

It must have been a luscious, tinny sweet tangerine that held those seeds.

Because now, dozens of years later, 

that tree that grew from strange sprouts 

crowding the spider plant on the sill, a puzzle to me then, 

and with time snuffed out the baby spider buds for soil, space and sustenance, 

room to grow and then outgrow that small pot to a larger one and then 

a larger one yet, moving with us from apartment to house to house 

where it now lives in the backyard, 

bursting with abundance.
 

It took 25 years for that tree, 

grown from thoughtlessly tossed seeds 

by one too lazy to get off the couch and trash them,

to bear fruit.

It simply grew and followed us from home to home, 

life to life, childhood to adulthood, 

and then our children’s childhood to adulthood,

and our puppies and kittens and hamsters and birds and fish and frogs

to their graves, 

some feeding the soil of tangerine tree roots, 

finally strong enough

firm enough to bear the weight of hundreds of sweet orange sun nuggets.
 

You, unwittingly, mindlessly, grew that tree you love so much now, 

picking one tangerine each morning, 

cold from the morning’s chill dew,

sucking its sugary juice and tossing the peel to the soil, 

just like you planted it 31 years before, 

when we were young and the tree was yet to be, 

its fruit long time coming.
 

And now the fruit is plentiful and we are old and love infertile, 

like sterile lovers circling, unwittingly trodding the soil of our graves.

Just Until…

  
Just until I am 10, then I will almost be a teenager and can do more things, and not be treated like a baby.

Just until I am 16 and can drive, then I will be free…to work, earn money, and buy my own clothes.

Just until I am 18, when I can get the hell out, be on my own.

Just until I am 21 and can drink–legally. 

Just until I am 28 and will finally graduate from bull shit schooling, start a life.

Just until I am 35 and can finally give in to the urge to procreate.

Just until I am 40, when I can stop having kids.

Just until I am 45, when the kids are in school and I can work more, go back to school.

Just until I am 48 and get my PhD finished, I can teach locally.

Just until I am 50, I will give myself permission to have a mid-life crisis, go away, learn to surf, dye my hair.

Just until I am 55, when I can make a plan, hold on long enough to finish growing up my kids, get them through college, just another 5 years or so, until I am 60 when I can begin to wait out my term, be on my own watch, do my own thing.

I wait. As we all do. We abide biding time as if time could be had. We are had by time and its illusion. Desire is the expression of suffering we live to fill space with all things but ourselves. There really is no time–just inhale and exhale.

 
credit: edge.neocha.com

Living by the Numbers

 
credit:  https://danutm.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/big-data.jpg


I am a woman who wades in numbers,
soak myself in abstract configurations;
I jet-stream massage statistics to know,
find the answers, solve the riddle of it,
the non-numerical, innumerable queries
cried in words, a seemingly literary call,
but responsive to figures and values one
of twenty-four-seven and three-hundred
sixty-four in sixty times fifty-two or so set 
give or take, plus or minus, more or less.

“I’ve got your number,” no one ever said,
but clich├ęs are like that, ubiquitous stain
on creativity’s spine like the cafe au lait 
spot on the leg or neck, a birth mark blot,
red, brown or invisibly zero’d out erased.
Countless ones perched in memory slate
have added up the sum total of me, mine,
all I ever was and will be with smug sure 
black and white like chalk on the boards
while flunking 365 true or false quizzes.

But not you, caresser of amassed details,
not data strokes, the airy waves of ideas
you throat-throw in fast, furious pitches
speeding in, aimed as weapon or homer,
at me batting less than top ranking 1000,
an average way below that .264, a mean,
the high and low of its streak of 9 no-hits;
I can never catch up, analyze every word
to track your wins from losses and defeat
the purpose, our aims on par, hole-in-one. 

We sport and play, linger and dally over
tenderous scars and spots, skin wounds
that narrate each misstep, spill or crash
we each separately, singly, absorbed in
seconds of lost sight, a blink of timeless
clicks of the clock in a silent living room
when we were youth without any history
past an endless future of anything goes.
But now, in lengthening hours, sun light
of sinless spins marks us immeasurably.

When you and I are old enough to know
that the feet we were, those inches along
the road miles we never traveled in truth
did not matter as many or few glimpses, 
insights into the relativity of relationships
fleeting and forever moving us in spaces,
places of perspectival generosity, a glee
of open doors, 1, 2 and 3, any alphabet
of understanding what counts, laughter,
touch, dream, a lantern glow in the mist.

I am a woman who drifts by the numbers,
ten by ten, mostly, often two by two-some,
just to tease the moment with complexity,
a game too many of us weak minded play.
“Age doesn’t matter,” you say, yet it does
to those who count; we count on them too
to whisper wordless songs in even tempo,
carrying the tune of eons engraving aural
flesh in a lilting lullaby, humming mindless
motion that apes the arrows of linear time.