life changes

Fernweh

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I am pinned to the places I have been, mapped
and logged and archived;
even some dreamplaces I revisit, where I am known and
even somewhat famous.

But there is a bench, a beach,
and a line of peaks
engraved in my book,
though my lungs have not drawn
that rarified salt air.

These islands
and their thousand shades of grey and blue
are a chain that pulls me in,
partly DNA
mostly fernweh;
a place so strange and so familiar
that I can feel the lichen soft on my feet
hear the corncrake’s green rattle
smell the whisky-smoke.

I believe I shall find my initials
engraved on a bench
on the Isle of Harris,
and I’ll sit homebound there
til the wind blows me yon.

 

Photo: Willem Eelsing

Unquiet Easter

Do not go quiet into Easter Day.

Go with loud crashings and whoops.
Go with gulls a-screech
and plashing dolphins and
go as a chosen one into the sea.

Go with a man whom you trust to dip you down to the tide
and raise you again.

Hold hands in a circle,
and go with those people to the next part of your life.

This day is not meant for quiet,
but for mad tintinnabulation in the soul.
The bells that still can ring, ring for thee.

There is time for hushed thoughts and silent minding,
but now, in this unquiet Easter,
let the raucous world ring in a newness
that is as old as Perseus’ old, deep note.

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broke

broken-wing

I got enough.
I got all I need.
Got strong legs to hop
Got pointy beak to peck
Got sharp eyes to hunt
and a field full of grubs.

Said the broke-wing raven

Flight’s overrated.
There I was, aloft
and wham
here I am.
Friends up there in the trees
spending all that energy.
Don’t need nobody.
Don’t need no one.

Said the broke-wing raven

It’s all good.
Y’all go on without me.

 

Salad Days

Jill sat at the glass-topped table, aimlessly moving a piece of lettuce around the plate, like a wayward jigsaw puzzle piece that does’t match the box photo, not at all, whose idea was this anyway, stupid lunch with Flynn that just wouldn’t serve any..

Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Flynn didn’t show, and so she ordered this salad that she didn’t even want. Who cuts these black olive slices into precious little stars, anyway, some underpaid college student no doubt trying to work her way to a degree that is useless and probably marrying the totally wrong kind of person to get out from under the loan debt, who would stand you up for lunch even as the divorce papers…

Anyway. The grackles fussed over a discarded disk of bread, a lazy bumblebee (hah! she knew it was not lazy at all, such a human misperception of the life of bees, for godsake they worked so hard for so little, just a bit of yellow powder clinging to their…) hovered near the slightly ratty bougainvillea. Perfect landscaping for this nondescript little bistro Flynn picked for their, what, maybe last ever lunch together. And Flynn. Where was he.

Well then. Jill pressed her fingers to her wrist. Pulse, a little accelerated. She could feel a moistness on her forehead that foretold a headache coming on (Oh, come on, really now, she had been disappointed so many times before, rack this one up to The Usual…).

The problem was, she knew that after this flurry of dispiriting missed meetings and misdirected anger, they would be friends and probably no certainly this was for the best. Still. He could have at least picked a better restaurant to make his final, dismissive statement.

Jill relished the last drops of iced tea (formerly iced, rather), sucking noisily through a straw and enjoying the glances of fellow undiscerning diners. A warm glow spread through her stomach (maybe this headache would lay her low) as she rose, left some money on the table, and left the lettuce and little star shaped olive for the grackles to share, or not.

On Loan

Are memories
where the softness of time
and the muscularity of the brain meet? Time says,
Here is a note, a scent, a color for you to hold
just for an instant.
The brain says thank you, will you be wanting this back?
The answer is always yes, for now.

Time grows less soft, and more persistent.
Brain goes less muscular, and more furrowed.
And then when they meet, you may keep the flower, the song, the sweet kiss
for just a little longer, and more often.

Not because time is kind, exactly,
nor the brain greedy;
this is simply the agreement they made at the outset,
at the first imprint.

Bright Angel

My father in law, Herb Van Brink passed away Friday, June 7, 2013. He will be missed.

It looked to be just a stop —
Majestic, grand yes of course,
but still
a stop on a road trip.

They stopped and looked and
changed forever
at Bright Angel.

Those bright souls
traveled on
across country and years —
kids, grandkids, friends,
chasing eclipses
bowling strikes
dwelling in quiet times,
hard times,
and bright times along the way —
less bright, now, by one magnitude.

The canyon abides
and the Angel keeps watch
over us travelers and lovers,
together but ultimately alone.

Goodbye, Herb.

Signs

Once I realized, all grown up,
that my signature was a thing of power
(a thing that could incur or forgive debt –
validate ideas, even bad ones –
make legal and binding a decision to stay
or to flee),
I sat with nib at paper, practicing,
scratching away at the curves and loops
trying to feel the weight of its meaning.
But like those mornings when you stand at the mirror
with a new hair cut,
I couldn’t decide whether to make it messy
or elegant.
I finally settled on a nonchalant scrawl, and have since
wasted that spiky cursive on bad checks, rude letters,
and a failed marriage.
Now I apply my signature much more sparingly.
Like my hair, still a mess, but a considered one.

I heart California

When I first got to this State
I promptly got depressed.

The worst of it was,
an endless procession of sunny days
would not let me stay there.

The more I tried to burrow in
the stronger the oppressive sun shone
the deeper blue the too-big sky

There was no place to hide in my beach bungalow
with its whitewashed walls and picture windows,
in earshot of boardwalk screams and crashing waves,
All designed to quash my brown study and wash it in light.

So I gave in
and got joy.

Clearly departed

Today when I left my job
for the very last time
I thought of my two coworkers who,
quite unexpectedly
and through no desire of their own,
did not return to our office the next day.
They were my friends, but
only after they were gone did I learn
how much I wanted to hoist a few pints with them
and hear the stories
that others told about them at their memorials.

So today, I made clear:
I am fun. I am free. And if you want to hear a story or three
Here I am.