Some Day

Walking with Great-grandma, Lomo Chrome xpro 100 filmSome day the bus will remember

to pick your child up at her stop.

Some day you will wake

into an easy rhythm of a morning,

lyrics you've learned,

a beat with an easy sway.

Some day you will kiss your loves

and send them on their way with soft lips,

and this clenched knot your shoulders weave

with your neck and the fist in your chest

will be your daily companions no more.

 

Some day your heart will feel safe

inside these four walls,

you will inhale and exhale, let your hair

out of its restraints

and undress

as if no one is watching.

Some day you will feel strong and sure,

commanding the world to fall in line,

or at least reigning your power over the dishes

and winning the war against mildew in the bathroom.

But today is not that day.

Today you will replace the belt that broke

before your pants fall down

or show more than you desire

when you sit down.

 

Today you will leave the dishes and remnants

of all your living right where they are

and lay down, close your eyes and breathe.

 

You will stare out windows and sit

still while your insides spin.

 

You will walk and walk and walk

until the reality of where you now stand

hammers into you like a nail.

You will move and then stop

move and then stop

until today releases you onto your pillow

and into a dream of some day,

closing your eyes like hope,

like prayer.

A hundred things I could tell you

Holiday Hair Studio, Portland, Oregon

You know you've been away a long time when you receive emails from friends that begin with lines like, "When you resurface . . .". In the last weeks, we traveled up through the Pacific Northwest and then spent some lovely time with my family. We were gone so long that the apartment felt strange when we got home, and we were all doing double takes trying to remember where basic things like the toilet paper were located.

We came home to major disruptions in nearly all our utilities, and spent our first week back getting our power, hot water, cable and internet all back up and running again. It's so strange to have a computer and an internet connection at my fingertips for the first time in what feels like ages.

I still have another month with the girls before they are back in the rhythm of school days and I am back to regular time in my studio, but I do have a few bits and pieces to share here in the meantime. I don't have many words these days, but am happily scanning photos from these last weeks and will share many of them in Photo Journey posts in the days ahead.

For today, I'll leave you with these lines from last week:

There are a hundred things I could tell you, if I had the energy to part these lips.

I would tell you about how our downstairs neighbors moved while we were away, their vacant apartment gutted.

How it feels like someone knocked a wall out of my heart every time I come in the door or down the stairs.

Even now I can't believe that this is my life without them, though our footprints in the construction dust don't let me forget.

I would tell you that my body is back in Brooklyn, though some part of me is still hovering somewhere over the plains of Nebraska.

That my memories of all that's transpired in these last weeks keep landing, one by one, like birds on the telephone wires.

I would tell you that words don't always carry the day, that things like presence and absence are are perhaps the most powerful of all.

I would say that some landscapes can mend you, that the ocean is an old and sacred witness, and that the journey gives us all the answers we need, in the end.

The Salt Beginning and Pepper End


It's strange the way we talk about
beginnings and endings
as if they were not married to each other,
as if they were not as inseparable as
the salt and pepper shakers
we are careful not to divorce as we pass
around the table.

With every beginning, an ending sneaks
in the back door to whisper
in our ears as we sleep,
It will never be the same
as it was before.
And the parts of ourselves that were cozy
and warm in that past
will protest,
sometimes loudly and without grace.

But children are weaned
seeds sprout
every planet takes its turn around the sun.

Romanticism and nostalgia
settle onto the couch and motion
for us to sit down between them.
Wasn't it good back then? they prod.
That was the life!
They are so quick to forget that
every time has joys
and struggles
and longings
all its own.

Some endings feel so final,
like a law enforcement officer
delivering bad news.
We think the words slammed the door
shut in our faces,
when we've simply been ushered
or wooed
or thrust across a threshold
into a new day,
a new frontier
and anything is as possible as
the day we were born--
our days laid out full of pristine possibility,
freshly fallen snow without
animal print or fallen leaf
to mark it.

If You Were Here

"God, is she so lazy now that she can't even be bothered to crop these before posting them?" Yes, yes she is.

I would make peppermint cocoa for two

on the stovetop

and we would sit side by side on my red loveseat,

our backs leaning against the arms and our feet

meeting somewhere in between.

 

Either your presence would perk me up,

or I would hang a cheered expression on my face

like the fresh hand towel in the bathroom.

 

If I could coax you into it, you would tell me about

what winter was like when you were in third grade.

I've been thinking about third grade a lot lately.

You might pause at the sight of new flakes floating

outside the window and we would both say,

This January has been so strange.

Banks of snow lining the street for a whole month now

when most winters it scarcely lingers long enough to run

the sled up the hill to the park.

 

I might confess that I'm working too much

for a season I had allocated for rest,

and you would believe me when I say that

I don't know what else to do

but keep making things.

I don't know any other way out of my bed,

which threatens to close me into its cozy comforter cave

until April.

And let's face it:

my optimism won't last that long untended.

 

I pray for other kinds of rest now--

that like all these falling flakes

each cup of cocoa and quiet conversation

and every long gaze out the window

will accumulate into something that will last.

That they will line my long, thin, upward-reaching places

and pile into a covering that sends the deep places

even deeper.

To Be Okay Again

Inside Flirt Boutique, Horizon Perfekt camera with Redscale film

I've learned a lot this year about grief.  Sometimes it loiters around, overstaying its welcome until we wonder if everyone will abandon us for our perpetual talk of sadness.  Other times it gives us a respite, and we enjoy a window of Living As Usual before it returns from its cigarette break and resumes its perch on the bar stool in the corner.  It makes it hard to say how we really are, because we can be fine and not fine at the same time, or in alternating moments.

This is a hard time of year because melancholy stands out in such relief against the celebrations that twinkle like so many lights on the tree.  Today is the darkest day of the year, but I have already felt the light returning for some weeks now. 

Still, there are overcast days, often when I am weary. I wrote this on one such day:

My yoga teacher spent an entire class
on a flow of poses to untangle
the knots around our hearts.

It was so hard.

Then later a healer told me I had
something tied up in my chest.

None of this is news to me.
There has been so much sadness this year
that I can barely breathe through its thickness.

I tell my mom, It's been a hard year,
and she says something like she's not so sure,
something like I'm just getting older and
learning the sorrows that are
always and ever with us.

It is a mercy to be young.

I remember my friend's mother
who lost a son this year, and
how my friend says she keeps going through
the motions of living,
like some daily act of faith or hope
that someday she will be okay again.
What else is there to do, we say,
as we try not to lose each other
crossing a crowded street in Times Square.

It tempts me so often to lie
and say that I am fine,
to tell a story about how I am strong
so it could be true in at least
someone's mind.

But here is what is really so:
I am trying to be brave
and looking for sprouts of strength to break through.
I am trying to keep my heart
open to new friends,
even though my smile has dimmed.
I get tired when I don't leave enough space for
my sadness to lay down and stretch out its limbs.

But mostly I keep going through
the motions of living
as an act of hope that someday I will
be okay again.

 

UPDATED! You can celebrate the Winter Solstice tonight by downloading Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark and giving them a listen in a quiet moment before you lay yourself to rest.

Midday Clouds

by the windowsillYou make it all the way to Queens and back

on a yellow bus of children without getting sick,

a little girl's head resting in your lap

and your hand blocking the sun from her eyes.

The driver tells you one too many times that you are beautiful

and now it's hard to look him in the eyes

in the rearview mirror.

He says the slow music is to help the kids fall asleep,

but the lyrics seem a little va-va-voom

for this crowd.

 

It's not until later,

at home

when you have a big pot of chicken soup cooking

that you finally feel like you have done something good.

Even though you forgot the parsley at the market,

even though later tonight you will stand on a stage.

It's this halved onion and these bay leaves

you won't forget to pull out later

that mean everything.

 

You turn the soup to simmer and

pull a chair to the kitchen window

to rest your own head,

unshielded from the sun.

 

Some years it feels like more is lost than found

and when the calendar turns to the final page

it is this cup of tea on the windowsill

and this brief afternoon light

that warm your hands.

The pot of basil dividing your tea from your cookie

makes you wonder if next year will be better,

or if we are harvested and pruned forever.

The green leaves probably hold some wisdom

about new growth and possibility,

but the sun's dance in and out of midday clouds

somehow feels more true.