Joyeux Noel


Midnight mass in the 12th century cathedral at Narbonne rounded out the Christmas dinner of way too much food–lamb, salad, haricot vert, cassoulet beans, potatoes, figs, foie gras, du pain, pain, pain!–and drink (wine and champagne). It was lovely to walk the stone streets in the brisk, windy night, bundled in heavy winter coats, wool hats and thick scarves, all five of us, into the dank, solemn air of the ancient worship ground and gathering.
 
The sound of angelic choruses vibrating with the enormous, ancient, wood-piped organ created a majestic mood, and the parishioners seated in centuries old pews facing the gold-plated, ornate altar where mysterious rites of chanting, bells and smoke took place.
 
The wine helped open up my heart and lungs. I was moved. I stood, sat, stood, sang, sat, stood, sang…for two hours. I sang Christmas songs loudly-passionately (catching the echoes inside the mile high ceiling) in French, a few Gloria’s and hallelujah’s, and all was grateful and grand. 


The experience for my children might have been less engaging. They fidgeted less than I did, but they were clearly unmoved. Having worked in a Catholic high school for four years, I at least was familiar with the procession. They went panicked blank when the offering plate was passed in front of them. They’re obviously not Catholic.
 
And their eyes widened in surprise and then ironic glee to see their father line up to take communion–a first sight for their two decades or so of life. When he and his mother returned to their seats, the universal let’s get out of here side glance and nod of the head had us heading for the doors at midnight–into the cold, then into our impossibly compact car, driving back past the canals and into the dark, lampless, skeletal vineyard lined lane to home. 

Day is Done: Ten for Today

Death is a symbol. People stand in for other people, incarnation after incarnation.
 
My father comes in my room late one night earlier this week. “Al died.” His face is pale; he collapses to sitting on my bed, head bowed as he cries into his hands. Only he raises harrowed eyes to warn me, popping out through fear’s door where the pain gripped his voice,
 
“Be prepared. I’m next. And mom. I haven’t been feeling too good. I didn’t tell you but…”
 
And he sinks back into despair.
I try to hug him but his body and mine are too long-limbed, his back too rounded, mine too straight, and we clash. I never fasten my arms firmly to his shoulders. Maybe he resisted. The torment had him.
 
At the funeral, he told jokes, said inappropriate things that suggested the man he knew nearly all his life–his only sister’s husband–was not the best friend he appeared to be. There were hurt feelings, slights in the last ten years. And he learned early to protect his sister.
 
“I’m here for my sister.”
 
We drove five hours there in morning traffic after dropping our younger off at the airport to begin her college visit. Her flight left at 6 a.m. for Boston, Newark first. We had to get her there by 4:30, and then took to the road, sailing in to the Veterans Cemetery by 9:30 and thirty minutes to spare. This honored last rite in exchange for a leg he left in Korea.
 
And I cried. For the man, for his children and wife, for my father and mother, for my daughters, all the endings and beginnings swirling inside the belled mouth of a trumpet, steady-sweet, singing taps to signal day is done. As if we didn’t know it with our guts sunk into the intoning rabbi’s throaty prayers.
 

Mornings

Morning quiet, 

the children and their father 

 are visiting far family 

–the other coast kin.

Silence woke me at 5,

in nature’s alarm,

floored by fleeting time’s passing.

So I padded through a dark kitchen

out the French doors opening

to trees, wall-ivy and cement.

Fog painted my yard early or 

late last night.

  
My morning treasure hunt,

gathering fruit like ancients before me,

I pluck a near ripe tangerine.

  
Dew muffles the circle’s slow awakening.

Only the witness and I ruffle the thick, cool air, 

she inside, me out–both dark of day denizens.

 

Inside, the brewed elixir–arisen–awaits 

the heat of my lips, warm breath

chicory and oily coffee bean permeates.

  

Drawn along softly in my wake, 

unprepossessing, anticipating

every  step and saunter, click

and rushing air precipitated by

daylight’s motion in muted tones,

she watches–just in case.

I feel her eyes and cast mine downward.

   
  

Patience–she sits center in wait,

eyes beaming a steady pinpoint plea:

Notice me. Give me hand.

And I do, bent over her supplication

until the toaster pops and

the noise straightens my knees 

and takes my face away.

  

 

A bite of breakfast timed to her arrival,

stirrings from rooms behind, 

the caretaker wheels her in,

the ritual rousing now complete.

   
  
My first meal companion–

brain-shut in stifled words

uttered inside an airy maze,

once an ordered, meter-mind    

sounding poetry and song, love

and laughter, the mothering kind.

“Good morning, Mom.

Another unpromised day greets us,

so let’s play the lottery with our luck.”

Her inward stare toward the window

flickers only hair trigger slightly.

And the powerful sun, 

still swallowed in mist 

nods assent.

   

Barbie Nervosa

  
Every day.

She has to check daily.

Call me on the land line.

See if her world has changed.

“Are the flavors the same today?”

(All of my safe favorites still there?)

I nervously reply raspberry is now coffee.

The tiniest quake shivers her cheerful ‘ok’.

When she arrives in wide white tooth smile,

starlets gleaming in sky tan framed platinum,

a quiver tremulates pout-lush berry fleshy lips.
 

She forms turrets rather than swirls circles;

soft, firm, frozen layers sweet comfort most,

aligned to spun circadian rhythm, but not hers.

She builds towers tall enough to see over the walls

she maintains securely protecting hers and her own.

All colors should reach beyond the brim, peak and peer

over the fortress, showy containment, before consumption,

her life’s patch-quilt texture sewn so tightly no thread strays,

not an inch, and the pared tan arms and legs, plumped bone, lay

testament to the sacrifices she makes to keep a world’s seams intact.   

Felicitations on the Auspicious Occasion of Your Natal Day!

Congratulations to all who have survived another day

Opened their eyes to the sky and the light just to say

Thank you to whomever it pleases for my birth, today.

 

And in case you didn’t know, here is the skinny on birthday celebration ritual as we know it here in America today.

This is Why You Get to Celebrate Your Birthday Every Year.

  credit: happy birthday mistress 

Wait for the last one on this short video:  it’s worth it.

#peace

Love Dance Ritual

  

Love dance ritual
downright habitual
hello, a kiss
reply, a miss
a mental hiss
Why resist?
the game on
a wink, a stare
returning glare
another beer?
Why not?
It’s clear
you’re here
to pluck my pride
take that ride
think of it now
driving that plow
rich fantasy
in bed with me
skin off my back
oily ass smack
tense smile
stay for awhile?
bar stool bitch
making his pitch
Come play with me?
so good you’ll see.
nothing better for free.
smile in secret
will her submit
what you want
Come on cunt.
Give it up already.
Wait, hold steady.
She’s loosening. 
not leaving
eyeing my crotch?
turn it up a notch
She’s so hot.
need what she’s got
How about dinner
with a winner?
Come on, come on
Let’s get it on.
This play’s too long.
And now she’s gone.
no biggie
She wasn’t pretty.
This one’s hotter
not such a rotter
How ya doin’ tonight?
See the moonlight?
What a great smile.
Been here for awhile?
Buy you a drink?
a leer, a wink
the dating game
just a frame
for the mighty lame
a sad mime
silly rhyme
painted velvet kitch
the love switch
turn me on turn me off
I’ve had enough.

Happy New Year! What Else Could I Write?

Happy arbitrarily chosen day to start counting all over again and feeling resolved to do things differently! Thank you, Caesar for setting this day in 46 B.C. of all days to start the new year, and not the logical one, which would be and was before him the vernal equinox, the official start of spring in late March. Just goes to show you, it’s good to be the king.

Resolving to make changes, do things right, and avoiding mistakes of the past is inspiriting. It’s the ultimate Mulligan. Who doesn’t love second chances (and third, fourth and fifth chances)? More importantly, who doesn’t love to be self-deluding? Not to be too cynical, but most of us make resolutions that stretch far into fantasy land of what I want to be when I grow up: thinner, stronger, healthier, wealthier, and a host more of -ers.

Truth is, those big resolutions that require the maker to do something avoided the previous twelve months are not going to magically happen with a declaration that it be so. Most understand that, so why make resolutions? Because it feels good to be resolved. It’s like any shot in the arm that gives a little boost from the limbic brain, like feeling sexy or getting out of the cold into a warm house. It just feels good.

A day for reflection, however chosen, is also a good thing, particularly because humans, Americans especially, seem to need to be told what to do when. That’s why we get a select few calendared holidays strictly enforced by the day off with stores closed and Hallmark greeting cards that remind us how we are supposed to feel. Think about how hard it is on Christmas day to be housebound because there is nothing open for distraction. Okay, except Starbucks…and the movie theaters. Just last week I surrendered to the deep desire to stay in pj’s all day and watch endless movies on Christmas day with the all-right-in-the-world justification of knowing that that is what my country wants me to do. Why else would I have the day off with almost everyone else?

Besides, the recovery from an after calamitous Christmas shopping for days on end hangover was much needed. So Christmas day is for recovery of one sort and New Years day is recovery of another–the obligatory drinking. How else does one know one is truly happy and celebratory if not drunk? I must admit the dry years and the wet years made the difference between boredom and enthusiasm vis a vis heralding in the new year. Oddly or maybe not so oddly enough, in the sober year ends, I never saw midnight except in the visions dancing before closed lids.

This evening, I will imbibe a bit, but probably just enough to keep me warm not sleepy. I don’t want to miss the stroke of midnight good cheer with the clinking of glasses and kissing of cheeks, some with loving embrace. The ritual synchronizes me. All is right in the world when I follow the rules of new years eve obligatory good feeling and hope.

Even though the rituals have changed throughout the years–from waking the kids up for pots and pans banging when they were little, to poppers and noise makers when they were a little older, to trying to stay awake til they got home safely–they still are important for setting the rhythm of days: wiping my hands clean of the old to roll up my sleeves and dig into the new.

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Credit: https://valleyartscene.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/newyearevepainting.jpg

Two feet on either side, straddling the old year and the new, I step into the new year at 12:00 a.m. just as the last possible touch of the toe tip of my high-heeled boot lifts from the pavement of the old year to meet its mate in the new. This is the constant: keep on walking.

And don’t look back. Every year I resolve not to resolve but to keep up the good work of living. Like every year, it was the worst of times and the best of times–more or less. I had the good fortune of testing my mettle to its very painful depths in hardship and loss this year and found that I am stronger than I know and have so many who love me more than I shamefacedly have realized. I had the misfortune of resting in half sleep for days on end in the contentment that comes with ease and comfort. And the new year will bring more of the same.

I wish all of you who I am so grateful for and have enjoyed in my slapdash, sometimes frenetic attempt at a meaningful sharing of the fragments of my memory, thought and pleasures in this blog, a happily, merry, loving evening. See you tomorrow (I will tap softly on the keyboards in deference to your sensitive state in the morning ;))

Cheers!
The gaze