Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hands I've Held (II)

The last day of school
we sat on the flowered lawn
and listened to Nirvana covers,
the band hot in their torn flannel but
too cool to take it off.
I spun a buttercup
between my spring-pale fingers,
gold petals pulsing with the beat.

I was drunk with the heat
and the music and the flashing flower and
the last day of school so
I confessed to you
just a boy
who sat next to me sometimes
who sat next to me now
“I’m sixteen years old,” I said
“and I’ve never held a boy’s hand.”

You took the flashing flower
twined your fingers through mine
said “Now you have.”
It was a kindness, like helping
an old lady cross the street,
but of course I fell in love with you
for a little while
until I gave my hand and so much more
too much, much too soon
to someone with hands bigger and weaker
and less kind than yours.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rid of It-- Mag 80

I’m rid of it all, those things that stole my life from me.

The books are in milk crates on the sidewalk, dusty leatherclad classics pressed unwillingly against paperback thrillers. Lamps cast into the alley trash because I will live by the light of the sun and other stars. I gave the curtains to my sister. I have nothing left to hide. I will eat with my fingers, scooping and plucking, licking and wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. No fork will steal from me the intimacy of eating.

The cats left of their own accord after I explained things. We’ll still be friends. My bed is at Goodwill, propped up against other lonely beds. I don't need sleep, that substitute for life. I don’t need dreams. I’ve said goodbye to music, to voices and touch. I will sit bare. I will walk free. The spareness of my life is the new luxury.

I tore out my memories. They were not as understanding as the cats. Some went easier than others. My adolescence was relieved—grateful, even—but my thirties screamed as they flew through the air. I clipped my fingernails and tossed out the children. All I have left is this umbrella.

Take it.

I want to feel the rain. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Magpie Tales #78: Paint

     She was almost done. There… and there… and there. Finally! She wiped her forehead with the edge of her hand and set the paint roller in the tray. Backing into the doorway to get a better look at the bathroom, she was already shaking her head at the color.
     “Damn. I really thought this was it.” She reached over and absentmindedly scratched behind Calliope’s ear. “Lichen,” which had seemed subtly soothing when it was just a dot on the lid of the paint can, now bounced between the walls in the small space, intensifying the pale green to the color of chewed spearmint gum.
     “Maybe light blue?” Zoey sighed. “Or maybe I should just give in and paint it white.” Calliope blinked once, slowly, her lichen eyes glowing spearmint in the bathroom. She raised her tail and stalked from the room.
     Zoey sighed once more, just so she could fully appreciate exactly how tiring the whole thing was. She dumped the tray, roller, and brush in the bathtub and turned the faucet on the whole mess. Fatigue struck a blow between her shoulder blades and she sagged, turned off the faucet, and left the tools percolating in grassy bathtub soup while she went to bed.
     When she woke in the morning, she rolled over to face Calliope who was blithely licking her front paw.
     “Look at you,” Zoey said grumpily. “You get to lounge around all day, and I have to paint it all again.” She thought about going to look at the bathroom. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. But when she closed her lids, she felt fluorescent green glowing behind them. She pulled on her favorite yellow sweatshirt (“maybe pale yellow?”), slid her feet into a pair of clogs, and took her purse off the hook.
     “I never want to see green again,” she told an unsympathetic Calliope as she closed the front door.
     When she returned, a safe if boring gallon of “Buttermilk” in hand, she didn’t notice anything at first. It was as she was trudging down the hall to the bathroom that she saw them. Little green paw prints, phosphorescent against the dark wood floor.
     “Noooo…” she breathed softly, setting the paint can down. She followed the prints to the bathtub, where everything was just as she left it last night. Other than the footsteps, which led from the sickly pea soup, over the bathtub’s edge, and down the hall. Multiple times. She turned back to the hall, noticing now that there were several trails. One led into her bedroom, across the white carpet (“honestly, what was I thinking with white?”) and up onto her petal pink duvet. She followed another trail into the guest room up to the window seat, where leafy paw prints decorated the ivory pillows. The last trail she tracked down the carpeted stairs and across the living room floor, over the new armchair and to the new couch, where Calliope curled obliviously, nose tucked under mossy paws.
     “At least I’ll have something to remember you by after I kill you,” Zoey muttered. Calliope cracked open one eye, an infuriating sliver of impassive green. The unconcerned eye disappeared again. Zoey turned her drooping shoulders toward the stairs and followed the paw prints to what was left of her weekend.   

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From Tonasket - July 12, 2011

I am alone in this beehive cabin. In a pensive mood, I read a book of poems while the others rush from here to there, collecting tools and coffee and hairbrushes, buzzing about solar panels and fishing and how full the propane tank is. I read a poem by Samuel Green, "Laying Stone," and am overcome. I brim with sadness and awe but even if the others stopped long enough to listen, they would not understand, they would not love this poem the way I love this poem.

Gradually, gradually, they do settle in their places. They make their quiet lists or tune the guitar or look at the atlas. It is I who needs to understand-- they practice their moments of poetry their own way. I leave them to their poetry, and go back to mine.