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~On a line from Natalie Goldberg: Writing is an athletic activity.’

 

Writing is standing in the corner

smoking a cigarette.

 

Is this where I’m supposed to work?

An ant’s crawling across the floor.

 

There’s a pond nearby that athletic

folks run past.

If you like that sort of activity,

then put out your cigarette.

Shi Shi Beach

I have heard about this beach, the meandering boardwalk, the wide expanse of sand. I imagine

roaming piles of driftwood, singing like a gull, a lonely song that moves me.

My bare feet are sandy

and burnt like my father’s after we left him.

 

Waves thrumming on and on will change you, they say. Whittle you down like driftwood and

take your power away, leaving you sunk beneath the waves. But then the gulls squawk,

fluttering down, pulling apart sea stars.

And my thoughts break apart and fly up.

 

I imagine standing on a gray log and calling back to them. I heard that I might find my song

someday. And now I think I have. I sing the song of the gull and stand strong.

I wrap myself in kelp

and run into the waves.

Moon Shadow

In the night, the lake is a

bottomless mirror, a celebration

with fireworks and beer. A ride

in the back of a friend’s jeep,

bumping along a potholed logging

road at a high speed. Stoned on weed,

a sore spot on my breastbone had me

suddenly certain I had cancer. I wanted

our friend to turn around, go back to

our truck with the spare, our camper

parked beneath a canopy of cedars.

But the whir of the engine was loud.

Panic had me certain Dad would find

out and I’d be in bad trouble. His abuse

had to stop, to glory in freedom from control

was all I desired. Instead, we continued

to drive on through the eclipsed night,

the light of the moon tossing twisted shapes

across the road that haunt me still.

 

 

 

Zoom East to See Fireflies

He says, “Fireflies are beautiful. I can’t believe

you’ve never seen them. You can catch them

in a bottle, you know? We’ll stay in Aunt Annie’s

cottage in Hanover. When the heat is high, the

tree line is where we’ll watch lights dance against

the night sky. In the morning we’ll eat porridge and

when afternoon lethargy sets in, we’ll feel strange,

but humidity is beautiful. It leaves a moist bloom

across the face; a refreshing mask that brightens and

plumps the skin. What do you think? You up for it?”

It’s A Jungle

Tiger, Tiger flame thrower!

Red stripped constellations–

fireworks: evergreen and deciduous.

You question the ghost man?

Take care, and watch the eye roll.

Then open your mouth, for it’s

yea big…the scream that will follow–

erupting from far back, fathomless.

It’s a revolution, you know.

The Season of COVID-19

Gifts sparkle, shake, and rattle.

They have ribbons and colorful

wrappings. Then when opened,

a surprise that makes us happy.

 

COVID-19 is a surprise.

It is round with flower-like

petals and triangular protrusions

Though it doesn’t make us happy.

 

I remember the polio vaccine,

and the long line we waited

in that trailed outside Finch

grade school and down

 

the block. We drank tiny vials

filled with serum to keep us

well. Now the surprise is the

number of new COVID cases.

 

The season won’t be over

until the vials arrive, delicate

glass with a potent fluid made

especial to foil the surprise.

The Best Day

Morning sun. A perfectly fried farm-fresh egg.

Toast with home-made raspberry jam. Hands in

garden dirt. Pinching back petunias. Transplanting

beets. Feet moving along park path. Sound shoes.

Dog sniffing critter trails. Sound of tumbling falls.

Tuna sandwich with garden lettuce. Potato chips.

Paddleboards careening along smooth water, sun

warmed skin. Cold water dip.  Back home: glass

of Cabernet Sauvignon on the deck. Roasted

vegetables. Nutty rice. Dance party: Swing Town,

Willy Nelson–cowboy two-step, East coast swing.

Fresh sheets dried on the line. Summer-scented skin.

Tender touch. Sleep like the dead.

Time Slows

The sound of nothing becomes a constant here

at 6,000 feet: flies buzz, wind rustles treetops.

The heat wafts up from the draw. We feel slow.

Slow muscles. Slow to answer. Slow to think.

It’s almost like sleepwalking through our days.

There is hauling water, taking weather stats,

preparing meals. And always, there is watching

for fire; now we watch the sun go down, orange-yellow

light igniting the valley. The forest needs our eyes.

We see chipmunks, ravens, eagles, and hawks.

We see camp robbers and quail. Wild flowers are

abundant: paintbrush, Kinnikinnick, Oregon grape,

and tiny new green huckleberries. We eat together,

alone with flies buzzing in lazy circles. Yellow jackets,

grasshoppers, and a distant plane. Then silence–

loud in its assertiveness. Heat settles down and the

glow begins to fade. We call it a day.

 

Dear Aunt Jean,

That spring morning in April, your granddaughter held the phone

to your ear when I called, you on your deathbed, me standing

alone at the back slider. I cried as your gravelly voice came over

the wire, systems shutting down at age 98. I knew how badly

you wanted to make it to 100. I wept so hard I couldn’t say what

was in my heart. Then a hummingbird came to the feeder hanging

outside the window. It was the first visit in a long time. I watched

the tiny bird sip nectar as you mumbled softly, words I could no longer

understand. But I knew your heart, and that you were saying, “I love you,

hon.” I wanted to ask you to say hello to my father, Virgil. But I knew you

would anyway. I remembered a friend’s words, Never say goodbye.

So, I said, I’ll see you again soon, Aunt Jean. And then you were gone.

Love,

Your niece, Nancy

Grow Out

My last color was March 3, 2020–

seventeen weeks ago stylist Lisa

mixed and slathered white roots,

shined and glossed ends, washed

and blew dry ’till smooth, a swinging

golden mane, a date with my husband.

 

Salons are closed due to COVID-19

 

I could color it myself, or I could let

my hair go al naturel. My friend says

“You are going to be so beautiful.” I think,

Aren’t I already? But won’t it make me look

old? I shop for color online…the right shade,

is sold out. I order Apricot Jam. It sits in the

sink cabinet unused. On the path, I check

other women’s grow out. Their’s the same.

 

Salons are open 50%…no blow outs.

 

My stylist will not be back until July,

and even then, they aren’t certain she will.

Two inches of snow on the mountain; a skiff.

Dark baby hair, the little hairs at the temple,

my true color. I decide to take my chances

and schedule with a new stylist–Lauren.

 

Salons are open 50%…masks required.

 

 

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