Floating

Rocked gently by the lake. Cloudless blue
sky above.  Sun warm on my face.
Children splash near shore,
laughing.
Beneath, a silvery fish swims.

 

Surprising Fulfillment

My Uncle Henry used to say
that the
joy in life was found
in the struggle. The process
was what
brought surprising
fulfillment. Things wouldn’t always
turn out quite the
way you expected or wished.
One had to adjust, adapt,
deal with the results of the
process and fight on until
victory.

At which point,
everything falls
apart.

 

 

 

 

 

Puyo

Behind the apartment the dogs still bark. The
chickens scratch around looking for
bugs. Sometimes they used to bring in a
truckload of hogs and slaughtered them, the
whole family working together. Or was that
hogs rooted around and truckloads of
chickens were slaughtered?

Once or twice the ground shook. I
stood in the doorway and waited for it
to stop, afraid I’d be in the way
trying to get down the stairs and out of
the house with my bad leg even though the
landlord added a railing.

I hope the restaurant down the street still
serves a full breakfast of rice and beans with
eggs at a price I can afford.  Three months ago
I left on a short vacation, I thought. Now I’m
home. We all wear masks and disinfect
our hands coming and going. Tomorrow I
will see about the food situation is. For
now, it’s good to be home.

Moon Shadow

If I lost my body parts, I would not be
joyous in the loss. Already they are trying to
leave. My feet ache. My knees
no longer keep pace with my gait, stiff
or sore, they slow me
down. Eyes, not as good as they were,
words a blur without
glasses.  My lips unable to sustain
a good whistle.

If I could, I would be at the edge of the sea
watching my shadow in the moonlight. But
the sea is far away.  Rain clouds hide it here.
One night I perhaps I will catch it in
my driveway, between the trees,
before the too powerful streetlights
hide it.

Below the Treeline

In the evening heat, we sit on the porch
watching fireflies light up here and there and then
here again down in the garden.
Passing the bottle back and forth we settle
into the lethargy that overtakes us now in the dusk.

Years ago, when our children were small, they
would run around chasing fireflies, putting
them in bottles. Strange to think about
those times, before masks and social distancing. When
family gatherings were not on Zoom only and we
all crowded around the yard and sat at tables
laughing and playing cards. Passing the babies
from lap to lap.

As real dark sets in and the fireflies disappear high
into the trees, I go in to set the porridge for
breakfast.

The Rain

a poem to transcribe

She points to the stairs, but he won’t budge. He stands
in the pouring rain, ignoring her signal to exit up.
Families mill about, confused. Should they
go up or wait for further direction? The children sob as
rain drips from their chins.

A large woman in purple wants to help … The rain blows in
through the open windows. He gives the thumbs up and stands,
in a widening puddle of water.

Giving him the side eye, she pours a glass of
water, unaware of the boil water warning in effect.
Three beats. The rain continues to pour. A cool
wind blows. The trees bend. Two
beats. Too stubborn to obey,
he remains right there, dripping, while
she drinks the
dirty water. A tree crashes beside him.

The Season of Disasters

The year came in innocently enough. We got
some rehab work done on the house. Our son came
from Seattle with his small children to visit. Then,
there was news of
a virus spreading rapidly in China and
Italy. A friend in Ecuador suggested we buy
some masks, just in case, because
Atlanta being an international air hub, you never
know, he said. We said ok and
bought two boxes of masks at the corner
drugstore.

We began to hear the corona virus was here
and spreading. Should I go to the
dentist? How about those other appointments that
seemed to be coming up fast. Canceled those just
as it was advised to stay home if you could and doctors offices
shut for the duration.

We got used to the virus. We were all okay.
Working from home, or retired or hopeful. Our street was
quiet and as usual, except for a few
masked walkers. We learned to order and
pickup our food. We found sources
of fresh food and we were doing well. Except for
those disturbing reports from Detroit and the nursing home
down the street where people were dying en masse. But things had
sort of settled into a
groove.

Some people got angry about wearing masks and heavily
armed began to appear at government offices to protest, to
intimidate.

When the police kneeled on the George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes
and someone caught it on cellphone. Protests, demonstrations
bigger than anything since the 60s. All the pent
up rage exploding. More shootings, old shootings, new
shootings. More demonstrations, burnings, tear gas, rubber and
real bullets.

The killer bees or wasps turned out to be a red herring. But
right now sand from the Sahara Desert is coming ashore along the
coast. More than in memory, crossing the Atlantic to come to Puerto
Rico and the Sea Islands. To make breathing hard and sunsets
beautiful from Florida to New Orleans and beyond.

The pandemic continues. Police brutality continue. How long the
plume of sand will be coming ashore, I don’t know. What’s next?
Meteorites? A roving black hole? Wild Fires? Hurricanes? Invasion from
outer space?

 

 

Graduation Party

My dress and tights were blue. My
shoes were black and flat. My hair was straightened.
We stood on the stage in the auditorium.
The curtain behind us was red.  I was through
with elementary school.

Afterwards I went home with my friend. There was
a boy who lived around the corner from her. He was there too.
He was a nice boy, rather short in 6th grade. I
don’t remember his name or ever seeing him after that. Probably
because I was double promoted right past all
of my classmates and friends and into the confusion of
kids who’d been in Junior high six months already. And then
we moved to another district.

But that day after graduation, it was Detroit winter cold.
Snow was piled up on both sides of the shoveled sidewalks and
all over Deidre’s unshoveled backyard. I must have
brought play clothes to change to. We threw snow balls and
laughed all afternoon. When I got hit in the face, the boy
I can’t remember wiped my face off.

 

We Didn’t Know

Last night I thought about you. Remembering
that night fifty years ago when he was
with you, wondering what you thought
was coming next.

We were so young and none of
it turned out like we
thought. Not even for me, who
got everything I wished
for.

None of us could look
down the years and know
you would be the
first gone.