The Story of the Field Mouse

The Field Mouse lived
in the front left pocket
of a black down jacket
that belonged to a Dapper Winter Man.
The Dapper Winter Man packed
bottles of water and a tent
and beef jerky in January
to hike a triangle of the
Appalachian Trail. The Field Mouse
peeked and bumped with the heavier
steps. Husks of cars from
the 1930s led the way up and up
to the trail head, some had fallen
down and down from the ledge.
And though it was January, the
Dapper Winter Man grew warm hiking
up and up. He sat on a stump
and drank a whole bottle of water
and tied his down jacket
to a tree. He stretched his legs
in the fallen leaves, out and out,
arms up and up. When he had rested
enough, he grabbed his bag and stood
and kept walking. The Field Mouse
was left behind. The sun went down
and the trees turned as black
as the down jacket, still
tied to a branch. The Field Mouse
slept. The woods near the trail
cracked and popped and growled
and still the Field Mouse slept.
And when the Dapper Winter Man
knew he left his jacket with
the Field Mouse, he made a small sound,
not knowing where it might be.
The Dapper Winter Man opened his tent
and built a fire miles away
and the Field Mouse slept.
When light slinked over the edge
of his mind and out onto
the water below, the Dapper Winter Man
stretched his legs in the open tent,
out and out, arms up and up. He walked
all day under the arch of the sun,
lost already at dusk. When he sat
in the trees where the trail disappeared,
the Field Mouse made a small sound.
The Dapper Winter Man turned around
and left the way he came
to find his way out, walking
down and down. When there was no light
left for anyone, the Dapper Winter Man
found his black down jacket
with the Field Mouse inside
and made a small sound. He put each arm
in, out and out, felt the Field Mouse
in his front left pocket, and walked on.

Beardie-Love

Crickets are too swift for you,
Beardie-Love, so I’ll pinch
a plump mealworm, make it squirm,
brush your cheek with it
until you crunch it. Crunch.
Munch on shredded collards
spinning between my thumb
and index finger, tickled
under your chin. My digits
are too large to eat, Love,
your nose to tail fits
on my forearm. You may perch
in my hair while I scoop out
your sand, slice sweet carrots
for you, slice strawberries.
Munch. Flatten yourself
when I reach in until you
smell my skin, crawl up
and toward my neck. I’ll cradle
you in terry cloth, your nails
need trimmed. Soak in the tub
while I fetch fresh water, never
minding the wet nose at the door.

Remus

Two black eyes the
size of nickels peek
from under caramel fluff,
nose twitching at the smell
of rain. Back legs
pump and kick, three
pellets clink down
on the hardwood. A salt
wheel dries from enameled
bars, a wooden chew splintered
under a fuzzy paw. Chocolate
colored ears frame his face,
nose still twitching
domestically. Lop.
Lop. Lop.

Suffocation

At 8:37am last Tuesday, I smelled
the end of summer. It promised
to leave with lightning this year,
promised more rain. I believe.
I haven’t met a season I didn’t love,
that didn’t fill my lungs and keep
my heart beating. Last year, fall
promised to stay longer, my dearest friend.
Winter, though abrupt and often abrasive,
has apologized to me countless times
with quietly grey skies. Spring
is my little sister, a hen under one arm
and a handful of azaleas, crown of wisteria.
But summer brings the rain,
brings the storms, brings thunder.
Summer stews hurricanes and simmers
my skin, covers me in English ivy
so thick I can’t breathe.

Sunset in Sonoma

A lifetime of giving up hope
has a way of offering preparedness
for the acceptance of death,
training for a triathlon of loneliness
and trudging and no-help-when-you-need-it.
Sonoma could have swallowed me whole.
Boar tracks dried single file
arching toward redwood oblivion.
When there was but one set of footprints…
Maybe God is a boar, a pregnant sow
leaving those prints toward the
Best View, far more important
than the way out. Isolated stumps,
dots on a grid, planned. Intentional.
My scream echoed hundreds of feet
down that cliff, spread across the lake
just waking with spring, crawling and threading
toward the Greater. It left me
with a primal power amplified
by solitude, by loss, by resignation.
Fingers struck wide, arms pulled
high, feet flat with a boar print
in between. Nothing to do but keep moving.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

The fluorescents buzz and hum,
an old golfer on the muted tv,
the only lights in this place.
1am Pacific time, and I’m lost.
“Try Hofsa’s Haus. Pink building.
Take a right at the next street, then a left.
The bathroom is right there.”
Pointing.
I don’t remember the bathroom,
only the relief, ready to try again.
Follow her directions to the pink
German motel. No one answers
the bell. No one answers the phone.
I have no where to go, to be.
I sit on the hood of the yellow Camaro
top down, palms flattened on warm steel.
I can smell salt and stone. The sky
matches my shirt; there is a noticeable absence
of bugs, of humidity. I lay back,
three feet of hair propped under my head.
I could sleep here. I could live here
in this one square mile town.

Percy Street with Jenny

Our small house had never
been so clean as when you
came to stay. Espresso stained
bar table gleaming, on display,
a testament to your domestic talents.
Three friends collected like flowers
every evening, bundled
around that table for supper (your word).
Hardwood swept every night,
mimosas and bacon every Sunday,
weekly trips to the farmer’s market
in Marion Square, coffee and croissants from
Wild Flour as you went to work and we
went to class. Your Lightning Bug alarm
haunts me four years removed.
Jennifer across an ocean.
Jennifer reborn.

 

Next week will be a year

And what if I never see you again? What if
your hair and heart and humor are lost
forever, save files given away
and erased, a concrete cat with a guitar and a grin
forgotten and thrown away?
How to heal when so little remains:
the pie balancing surfboard sold,
the mail jail disappeared,
mostly empty mugs with tea bags scattered
then all cleaned up that final time.
Am I less without you?

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