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Archive for the ‘Living in the Moment’ Category

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Today is a day you send back in time. Your younger self needs a hint, however fleeting, that this day waits for her. She won’t know you’ve hand a hand in whatever traces across her skin. She won’t even know you’re here watching over. Even so, today and the other days like it twine their slender threads around her. Lift her gently from the vortex of whatever drain she’s circling. Help her break the surface.

When she’s found her breath and feet again, she’ll call it luck. Or coincidence. She’ll credit a friend’s arrival, a passage on a new page, lyrics she’s never heard just so. The meds. Her own grit. She won’t know you’ve transported the snapshot complete with its texture, its scent and fizz, to shiver through her senses. She’ll never know, not until later. Until now.

You’re okay with her ignorance. You only need her to stay alive for a little while longer. To reach you. (more…)

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blackberry farm

2 hawks burst from the upper branches

1 doe steps, pauses, steps again into the brush

1 neon-green bug skitters under the cover of a fallen leaf

On its back, 1 tiny frog pinwheels its legs until I toe it upright and it springs into the weeds

3 patches of vines curl around their stash of not-yet-ripe raspberries

5 fingers of thorns twist across the frothy pink blush of not-yet-ripe blackberries

1 pond plucks and echoes with the calls of rubber-band frogs

2 tractors packed with children and parents wave and rumble and sway and wave some more

12 rows of new corn cascade up and out, as high as a goat’s belly

1 creek warbles along its stone bank, becomes another as it bends into shadow, another as it reappears in a cut of morning light

100 blades of grass tickle four bare calves

1 lone cow glances up and continues to chew, 1 ear flicking at a half dozen flies

1 roller truck with 2 steel wheels makes 6, 7, 8 passes over the gravel lot pressing its noise over every other word

3 children sit in 3 patches of shade eating 3 mounds of shaved ice in 3 meting stripes of flavor

4 children in helmets lead 4 stoic horses into a barn

8 children with bare heads ride 8 plastic horses in lazy circles

2 women step between damp sponges of earth into the cascading chiaroscuro of leaf and web and wing


Image: Walt Curlee, “Appalachian Blackberry Patch Farm” from Walt Curlee Art

 

 

 

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US - MILITARY - MEMORIAL DAY - ROLLING THUNDER

Blue-white needles frosted with summer rain squat fat and still over the roar.  Every passing growl is a Doppler crescendo lifting away another earthling.   One, maybe two.   Each made the choice to ride.  Every roar for days, hours into night, dawn into searing noon.  The rumble approaches and retreats, again, approaches and retreats, again.  Each one another one.  Each one new.  Each one here, each already gone.

 This freeway usually crouches behind its soft noise, a wash becoming nothing.  Surf without storm, wind over low dunes scoured clean of all breaks.  It fades into air itself, hiding passage in the press of blank white.  Ears become deaf by necessity or maybe laziness here on the other side of the sound wall, deaf to each human pressing on towards the singular objective of a fragment of day.

Now, here, these motorcycles demand attention.  They are designed for notice.  Each growl is a call to the hairs to rise, the jaw to stiffen, voice ready.  Who’s that? What’s there? When is this?

Now, it is now, it grumbles, it rumbles.  Another now, here it comes! There it goes. . .  A neighbor, a choice, a journey, a calling.

 What now?

A pleasure.  A burn.  A rebirth.

Coursing over the tarmac and weaving through white gashes, each in a pair, a pack, a battalion, or one lone rider.  Glove and leather, denim and chrome.  Each thunder roll is a choice to grip between thighs that saddled machine.  To clutch at gears, to stay upright, to cling to blacktop while soaring up, past, through and away.

Who’s that? What’s there?  Time, one moment. 

When is this?  Choice, forward motion, action, revolution.

Drive in, charge in, bite in and swallow the same air that churns out from belly, esophagus, throat, motor, rubber, grease, grit, sky.  The growl is gulp and belch.  It is breath and howl.  This is another man’s life here, passing, gone.  This is another woman’s ascent, crest, recede.  Each a doppelganger in flag starred ink and road scarred steel.

Claim it.

The rumble barks.

Claim you. 

Each single ticking humming second, each imperceptible sweep of the minute hand is one that only goes forward no matter how hard you press against the brakes and crank into reverse the resistant gears.  You can’t erase the odometer, can’t fly backwards down the on-ramp and start again with open road.

You only have this stretch here, the one outside your window behind a spill of ivy and shattered glass, this low sun bleeding over the sound wall and carrying your stunted roar up to smash like shell, yolk, skull, and cry against the day’s vanishing light.


Image: Vladen Antonov, AFP/Getty in Huffington Post from the Memorial Day 2014 Rolling Thunder ride in Washington DC

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steampunk eye

Less than 24 hours ago, Jasmine was checking my vitals and Jolly upping the saline. Sexy Surgeon had autographed my left knee in purple marker. An unscheduled emergency bumped my mundane procedure to the bottom of the queue, so I was the last patient of the day. A little after 5:00pm, the two nurses heard the buzz, flipped up the side rails, and wheeled my gurney toward operating room. On the way, Jolly grabbed two warm blankets and apologized as she unfolded them over me. “The room is a little chilly.”

“You should use a word other than ‘chilly,'” I slur, “when someone has been fasting for 18 hours.” Jasmine grinned and kicked open the door.

Less than 24 hours ago, drifting in a fog of anesthesia, I offered up my torn meniscus to the doc and his team.

Less than 15 minutes ago, I walked the dog around the neighborhood.

It was a slow walk, sure, and a low dose of Percocet smoothed the way.  Yet there I hobbled, pooch patiently ambling at my side.  Just a blink earlier, I was lounging in pre-op, rehashing family lore with my mom. They had yet to jab my joint open debride the meniscus with a pair of miniature tools that clearly need more oblique names than “the biter” and “the shaver.”

Medicine is magical and magical is art

This is a terrifying time to be alive. It’s hard to ignore disasters both present and imminent, and impossible to quiet the urgency for action in so many corners of the world.  Innovation births drone warfare and the venom of dictators screaming instantly into our pockets. We celebrate each new decade by inventing a thousand novel ways to die.

Also, this is a time of marvels. Someone found their way through the call of hunger and greed. Someone tinkered and played and eventually conjured up arthroscopy. Now we head home from the operating theater with absolute faith in the next dance.

The way we look to us all

Even knowing the work ahead, even wide awake to the call to clean up these messes and respond to the surging need of our neighbors on this planet, I’m grateful.

These are the days of miracle and wonder

It’s a blessing to be alive on this bit of rock in this moment in the story.

The dog is pretty happy about it too.


Lyrics: Paul Simon’s Boy in the Bubble

Image: Roleplayers Guild: The Relics

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Spring-Rain

In Jewish tradition, a person should recite 100 berakhot every day.  That’s 100 blessings.

So you are or are not Jewish.  Or you are.  And you think maybe a blessing is something like prayer.  Or gratitude.  Maybe it’s different too.  Maybe it’s noticing the azalea bush at the foot of the stairs and the way its blossoms began as thin green threads and now, after their full explosion, rest like a grandmother’s hands against damp leaves.

Maybe it’s also praising the rain.

A blessing is all these things.  It is also more.  You discover this prism of a definition somewhere deep inside the recitation.  You also stumble out on its leading edge, that one you can only reach by covering ground that you hadn’t considered taking before.

Start with 1 (the public library).  Then 2 (the co-worker who always cracks a joke). Lurch and resist your way to 10 (the grandparents, long dead, whose welcome and affection was so complete, you took it completely for granted).

Catch your breath.

When you get to 25 (the neighbors who stop to say hello even when your head’s down and you’re radiating leave me alone and they choose friendliness anyway) you realize you’re one fourth of the way there.  You’ve hit your stride.  This pace is a marvel.  You thought when you started that that there’s no way, not enough good things, and never enough time to get them all in.

By 26, you begin to lift your gaze up and out of yourself (the teachers and the volunteer parents too).  From there to 50, your radius spools out across the community (the folks who volunteer on weekends to rip the invasive shrubs from the park).  By 51 (the friend raising funds for RAIN for Sahel & Sahara and the locals there who dig the wells), you’re spanning the globe.

Catch your breath.

Then cut the line and let it go.

Because you’ll look everywhere you’ve looked every day for years and see what you’ve never seen quite this way.

There will be 72 (Margot’s health)

And 75 (the field of buttercups behind Bob Evans)

And 80 (the way he let me cry and touched my face)

And 81 (all the women who’ve done it on their own and shown the rest of us we can)

And 92 (the web of bus and metro lines that WMATA workers map, maintain, and drive to get us where we need to go)

And 93 (the neighbor who sends a call out condo community listserv anytime there’s a lost dog in the neighborhood, and offers to lead up the search)

And 97 (a break in the clouds after days of rain).

Catch your breath.

Then toss it over the sky and let it sail its way

to 100 (the welcoming arms of this home).

You will see the multitudes, and marvel.  You will find yourself dancing in the living room and swiveling your hips right around the most stubborn ghosts.  You will turn towards your dear one and listen to what’s inside the words.  You will lift every blessing up into your throat and let it become the truth.  You will pause there before speaking, and when you do, it will be with a voice already lit with song.


 Image: “Spring Rain” by Julie Cady Ryan

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Simone Forti

Only after the herd thunders past, then the chewing snapping locust swarm, then the boulder storm, only after all of these have carried themselves off into the collapsing distance does the gesture peek out from its hushed cave.

The ribbon unfurls from my wrist. A glass staircase bears the weight of fear. A feral pup  in its winter wool climbs to the cliff edge and readies its throat.

The wing, first opening, closes.

Opens again.

This dance is free of the burden of purpose. It is not to slim a waistline, beef up earning potential, make headway on a transcript, build community. This dance exists because it does. For that reason alone, it is here. Like an obsidian shard. A switchgrass blade. It has no need to explain. It came without invitation or even a name.

An icicle flashes on the willow limb. It is over, gone, before it has begun (almost). A bone clacks inside the skin of a boy. It is all of itself, entirely. It answers only the questions it decides to hear.

The very presence of this dance would seem nothing short of a miracle if anyone were in charge of miracles. Just think of the staggering odds against it — against any of what’s here, any of us — inhabiting the blink that is the time and place we believe holds everything and really holds only the half-beat between measures.

This dance spins out from the hull of my body. The hard pod surrenders and splits its seam wide. So sudden. On a surge of air it rises like milkweed fluff tearing free. One current then another carry seed and gesture off to where they will become (or not) something that the tethered stem will never witness. This dance escapes the confines of movement in shaped by flesh. It rides a momentum that began before I was zygote. It churns on well beyond the ends of me.

See there?

Watch the sky. Watch the soft naked place when you turn your arm up. You might catch its white tail whipping past as it disappears into a break in the clouds, into the  pores of you. Into the the melting river that swallows us.


Image: Dancer Simone Forti. Read more about her in this 2012 New Yorker piece.

 

 

 

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The remarkable sifter and curator, DMF, over at SyntheticZero posted a comment to Everything is Music with a link to Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon playing Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.

On the eve of an unwelcome anniversary and bracing for another night fighting off the devils that eat sleep, here I am in bed now, singing and dancing — yes, dancing alone in bed! — with the warmest thrill from smile to toes.

Now this word from Ernie & Bert:

Thank you for the most buoyant lullaby a girl could hope for, DMF. (And thank you, lambies.)


 

 

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