Hour 24 – Package on the Doormat

There was a knock on the door
I answered and no one was there

Only a small package sat on the doormat
it was wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string

There was a simple tag with red lettering
with the words printed on it in fine calligraphy
“A gift for you”

Paranoia set in
I looked left and right down the street
for signs of movement or a clue as to
who might have left it

nothing, not a movement
not even a squirrel or a bird
not a car or a dog walker
the street quieter than it ever had been

I carefully lifted the package
reasoning that I was an unlikely recipient
for a bomb or a trap

I brought the package in
placed it on the table and inspected it

I pulled the end of the string where a small bow was tied
the package was easily freed of the string

I eased off the paper wrapping
and took the lid off the box
to reveal folded tissue paper

I pushed past the paper
and inside was a small heart-shaped locket

I lifted it up and opened the locket
to reveal the words
“you are loved”

 

Hour 23- Barry the Banana Slug

Barry the banana slug
was an unlikely pet

But he’s more fun than
you’d expect

He follows me along in the garden
we like to go to eat salads together

He enjoys long walks in the forest
and doesn’t mind a rainy day

He’s great at helping to clean up
around the yard by eating dead and decomposing
plant and animal matter

The only thing he’s not great at is warm hugs
which is okay because if that’s what I wanted
I would have chosen a pet different than a slug

He has something that you could never get from a fluffy dog
If I ever need to go numb then Barry is ready with his anesthetic slime

Hour 22- unfettered progress

Another building going up

filling in the last piece of open space

more apartments, more offices

compartments to contain and hold

the lives of the city’s people

Nothing stops the wheels of progress

the bottom line doesn’t have space

for a park or the historic and human scale 

buildings that were once there

Now bulldozers and pile-drivers

tear up and pin down another

tower of metal and glass

What will stop them 

It’s hard to say

natural disaster

urban decay

climate crisis

Somehow they find a way

to stack the boxes in their favor

despite tragedy and loss

but when there aren’t any

people left to stack in these boxes

invisible forces will enforce 

nature’s creed and it’s likely

that man’s greed will push 

us all the way

Hour 21 – An ordinary peace

I long for a deep sleep
not the fairy tale kind that involves a curse or a kiss
just an ordinary bed with just the right amount of covers
allowing me to sleep in comfort without a reason to toss and turn

I long for sweet dreams
not the kind that are so involved that I feel like I have been up all night living a double life
just an ordinary dream that feels cozy and maybe even forgettable

I long for peaceful days
not the kind that involves having to navigate crowded trails and sidewalks with people who hang out in big groups and don’t wear masks
just an ordinary day where picking up a few vegetables at the farmer’s market and some bread at the bakery isn’t a strategic maneuver  

I long for a calmness in the world
not the kind that involves denying the hard truths of our society
but rather a calmness from addressing the tragic structures and failures and choosing right action to set a new course

I long for a rest for those who have fought so hard
to ensure the rights of themselves and others

They deserve to rest and be at ease

Hour 20 – Flashlight in the Hall

I walked the halls of the empty school building
carrying my phone and using
an iPhone flashlight
to light the way

The school had been empty of students
for 3 months now
I returned to retrieve the items we left
when schools closed suddenly and we thought
we would be out for an extended time

three whole weeks
sounded hard to believe
three months now is the least of it

I pointed my phone to the end of the hallway
the flashlight revealed a stray pencil on the edge
of the hall

I resisted the urge to pick it up for my “pencils to borrow” cup
the flashlight couldn’t help me see what was coming

when would these hallways be filled  with the sound
of adolescent glee and angst again

Hour 19 – the aliens are here

a massive string of smaller organisms joined together

spiraling in the open ocean creating a frequency and energetic crackling that leaves us wondering about their power

they aren’t of this world
we need to know how to communicate with them

people never expect the real aliens because movies have sold us on little green men or their grey counterparts

big heads and big eyes

but what if aliens have taken over the biggest wilderness on earth — the ocean

a spiraling string of death hunting in the open ocean, we weren’t meant to see it yet

 

 

Hour 18- Just Perfect

Mom was going all out with the meal. It wasn’t her usual way when it came to cooking. She was usually pretty basic and practical. The kitchen was chaos with every counter covered with the supplies for multiple recipes in progress.

Her brothers were coming over and she wanted to come across as perfect and having it all together. No one expected this and maybe that’s why she was trying so hard.

I would have happily stayed hidden in my room all night or just disappeared. I even tried to drum up a school-related excuse. But since my school has instituted a ‘no homework over holidays policy’, it’s ruined my usual excuse to seclude myself from the boisterous family interactions.

Naomi, could you give me a hand in here? my mom shouts at me already sounding exasperated. Do I have to? I reply. Immediately, I know this was the wrong thing to say.

I go into the kitchen and look for the least interactive thing I can do. I offer to take out the compost and recycling. 

The doorbell rings. Mom is covered in flour and I hear her swear under her breath. I know she’s pissed that her most critical brother is always early and his saccharine wife will offer to help. This really means that she will stand around the kitchen criticizing my mom’s every move.

Mom wasn’t having it this year. She had a strategy where she quickly put drinks in their hands and sent them to the living room. I could see that she was determined this year would be perfect.

Hour 17- Leave A Message at the Beep

It was raining
and I missed you
It was late
but that wasn’t unusual
late-night meetings were our thing

I stopped at the payphone
that sat on the far side of the parking lot
of the liquor store down the street

no answer
I left a message on your answering machine
drove to your house
knocked on your door
no answer

your car sat in the driveway
and another on the street directly in front
of your house — I knew that car

I could feel my heartbeat fill my ears
disbelief at my discovery
I stormed off
pausing to leave the crunch bar I bought you
on the windshield of your car

I drove back to the same payphone
Used my calling card to check the messages
on my answering machine
just in case you left me a message

I called you and left another message
exasperated
I left another
I left too many messages

One more

and then it was you who picked up
Righteous anger masking guilt
her voice faint in the background

If you had just picked up the phone
the first time
I wouldn’t have left a message after the beep

 

 

Hour 16 – How I know

How do I know?

Tonight, he made us grilled cheese sandwiches in the waffle maker.

At lunch, he made a smoothie made with fruits to perfectly complement the meal.

He remembered, he searched and found a gazebo and built it so we can spend time in the mosquito-infested backyard.

He not only goes clothes shopping with me but can find the right size and style that work for me.

He makes food, he cleans, he fixes things, gives me space to be me and do what I need. He pays attention to what I need.

His affections expressed through action.

That’s how I know.

Hour 15 – flying to a foreign land

Flying to a foreign land for the first time
is always a rush

No matter the number of times I’ve flown
the moment the plane reaches the front of the line
for the take-off runway and brings the engines to
the crescendo of power – I remember what we are about to do
the speeding wheels on the ground make my stomach turn
and then lift off

Once in the air, I immediately feel calm
I watch eagerly out the window
as the world recedes and transforms into
a miniature play thing
I remember, I like this — being in the air

The clouds form a fluffy boundary between us
and the world below

Away from it all- gliding and floating
feels natural
suspended in an alternate and isolated reality
with food and beverage service

An announcement interrupts- arrival is imminent
The reminder I am going somewhere new
I’ve never been
I have to speak a new language, learn a new culture
be wrong and confused a lot and a little helpless

The plane lands and the seal is broken
Walking the ramp to the airport
plucked out of the sky and dropped into a new land

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