Desire Path

MacDonald Frances Desire Path

Then and this. Now and here.

A pause.

Cool air shivers skin. The bus engine grumbles below plastic seats molded to cup a human’s soft places. Thighs of meat padding bone. Outside, women in a pack bustle down the sidewalk in jeans stretched taut.

The days grow shorter.

Even so, I forget. Forget to stop and touch the zinnia with its five shades of orange tethered to a center like chocolate. Forget to let the crepe myrtle dip across my cheek. Barely notice a fat bee chugging past me towards what bursts from the hedges. A body that should be too weighty for the tissue of wings somehow stays airborne.

I forget that eventually, everything falls. I forget to catch drift.

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This Quiet Plot

Suzie Seitz

Silence is the absence of sound. That is where we start. Then we hear what’s left when a bow lifts from its string, the reverberation humming across window glass and skimming over curved iron rails. Even after it dissipates, sound remains. We cross a bridge from memory to the note that arrives next, if any. This is not a certainty.

The lift carries us. The resonance in our own blood rides over when the bow releases it from its string. The arm lifting belongs to the song. Muscles move the arm. Breath fuels muscle. Pulse syncopates with breath.

Player, instrument, audience, the hollow belly of night. Nothing is silent. Inside the ear, a river rushes. Even in the dark, even alone, we sleep on its roaring banks.

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Wonders Small and Large

Joan_Miró_1920_Horse_Pipe_and_Red_Flower-1026x640.jpg

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. Continue reading “Wonders Small and Large”

Counting Country

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

 

 

 

Thunder Roll

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

Days of Miracle and Wonder

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

100 Blessings

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