The Fear of Never Being Known

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In a cabin in the woods
my little dog and I sat
doing exactly as we pleased
meaning–we stared at trees

No news of recent violence
no guilt or aberration of the soul
wending through our door
only the echoes of the heart

Stirring the darkest chambers
where truest selves tend to hide
reminding us what we’d known
yet somehow forgotten

Try, try as we might we can never
know how another heart beats
but we’d be remiss not to listen
to what our own longs to tell us

Sometimes it’s enough
to sit and think about our lives
and it’s natural to be afraid of the dark
but we should never be afraid of ourselves

 

Looking Back …

Funny, but after blogging for almost 3 years it’s not the words I’ve written here that have meant the most to me, but the images I created to accompany them. One last time, just for fun. I know I’m not an artist, but I’ve enjoyed pretending.:)

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Cow: This One is a Freak of Nature
Cow: This One is a Freak of Nature
Morticia
Morticia

Girl_1

In Flight
In Flight
Bear
Bear
New Yorker Copycat Cat
New Yorker Copycat Cat
Arrow
Arrow
CatBallou-oons
CatBallou-oons
Renaud, Looking Away
Renaud, Looking Away
Be Kind to One Another
Be Kind to One Another
Alex in a Brown Study
Alex in a Brown Study
Huh?
Huh?
Orangutan, Baby (Used earlier, 2014)
Orangutan, Baby (Used earlier, 2014)
If Katherine Mansfield Had a Dog
If Katherine Mansfield Had a Dog
Cool Dog
Cool Dog
C-Dog As Mostly Bichon
C-Dog As Mostly Bichon
The Red and the Black
The Red and the Black

Please, let’s be kind to one another.

In the Garden of Eden

This morning on the local news I saw an interview with a man who’d hit the lottery and is now an instant millionaire. Turns out I know him, went to school with him, was his “girlfriend” for maybe two days back in junior high (on our lunch break, I stood inside the cafeteria peering through a window watching him make out with another girl under an elm tree and knew it was over).

I am very happy for this fellow. In the interview he said he often stops for coffee and donuts at the gas station where he bought the winning ticket. On the screen his hair was gray, but I could still recognize his face, could see the boy beneath the man.

At first I hadn’t recognized his name–I called him Rudy, but the TV station identified him as Rudolfo. He said the money couldn’t have come at a better time since he’d just given his two weeks’ notice so he could spend more time with his wife, who’s 58 and has dementia. They’d known each other for years, were good friends, and finally married about five years ago.

The thing is, I know his wife too. She and I grew up together, although we lost touch years ago after college. Like me, she was an only child, which is probably what drew us together. We used to go to each other’s houses in the summer, but we spent most of the time at her house. She had an oblong-shaped above-ground pool we couldn’t enough of. After climbing out, our skin white and shriveled, we’d go to her bedroom and listen to music. She loved Iron Butterfly’s “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida,” but her mother thought it was the Devil’s enchantment so we had to listen to it with the door closed, the volume dialed low.

Later on in college she loved to listen to music as she drove around in her gold and black Nova; she adored that car. “I love to drive,” she once told me, and it was true, she’d get behind the wheel and crank up the music.

The last time I spoke with her was five years ago at a class reunion and we laughed and had a good time. At one point she giggled and said, “You remember how we used to like to make ‘burnt paper?'” Of course I did. When we were kids we’d treat a sheet of white paper with different concoctions, like lemon juice, milk, cinnamon, and then put the soaked paper on an aluminum pie pan and shove it in the broiler. Yes, I know, crazy. Those were the days. Why in the hell did we want to make burnt paper? Why make it look “old”?

Now we’re old, or at least a lot older, and how much fun is that? My old boyfriend of two days received a paper check worth more than a million dollars. It’s a brand new, crispy white check–I saw it on TV. Though I’ll bet he’d give it back in a heartbeat to go back in time when we thought it would be so cool to be older, to be old.

I wrote this to exorcise the sad feelings I’ve had about my friends since learning of their “new-found luck.” I wish them all the best. If money could only buy a cure for dementia….

In the Night

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in the night I hear their footsteps
kicking up dried autumn leaves
nosing their way around to where
we’ve fed them dried corn and seed
on the ground they know we are
kind and would never think to
take aim with gun or arrow we
would never kill them why would
anyone want to take them down
don’t tell me you need meat for
your family I’ll point you to the
nearest McDonald’s and offer
to buy you a Big Mac w/Cheese
for the love of God please leave
your killing kindness at home
just sit with me on this porch
and listen to them wending
their way through the forest
looking for food to feed their
family the babies are so little
their knobby knees so thin
the mothers look to feed them
just as you drive to the Golden
Arches her children as precious
to her as yours are to you why
can’t you try to understand why
be so stubborn-hearted?

 

If Not Now

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Tonight a golden sky
Trees still as sentries
Buzzing speedboats
This moment —
Not one flittering leaf
This moment —
Cawing blackbird
Dogs barking
This moment —
Life always ends
Before we know it
Why wait ’til later?
Why not, now?
Like blinking
Fireflies at night
If not now, when?
This only moment —
If not now, when?
Please, don’t make me beg

Safe Love

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We parked on the side of the road. I followed you along a twisting two-track long overgrown. Brush from some lacy tree smacked me in the face. You pointed out three-leaved dangers. I stayed on your heals scanning the sandy trail for fork-tongued devils. I wondered where in the hell we were going. I didn’t say anything. I trusted you. We traversed back and forth up the sand dune until all at once the foliage opened up and there before us was a canvas of pale blue sky and milky blue water, a thousand glimmering diamonds dancing across the surface. It was a cliff, a steep sheer, and I thought how easy it would be to fall over the edge. I craned my neck and looked down–scanning the green growth on the side, the rocky shore below. A single step forward, or a jump into thin air. So easy, the letting go. The pliable and not-so-pliable body hitting and tumbling down. I tried to imagine that first jarring blow followed by weightlessness, the tumbling of the heart. Then I looked around and saw that someone had been there before us. There were charred sticks and stones, scattered ashes, an empty beer bottle, a piece of cardboard. And by a tree, close to the edge, a crumpled condom. –I’d almost stepped on it. I imagined the lovers in their bliss rolling on top of one another, rolling and rolling toward that precipitous lip of sand, beyond which lay space, then another body, of water. What kind of love making that must have been. To have come so close to the edge and not fallen.

Absinthe

imageIn a dark corner of my heart was the burning desire to be a louche woman.

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“Burning,” as in a “burning heart,” is a cliché. Louche: not reputable or decent.

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I grew up following my mother’s admonition to “always protect my reputation.”

*

Oh mother, I protected it all right; I drove it right into the ground and covered it with dirt.

*

I laughed so hard in the back seat of the car my stomach hurt.

*

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A pliant was what I needed, something to soften the heart, dull the brain.

*

La fée verte (the green fairy) — I have always counted on fairies to see me through.

*

I ordered an absinthe tremulously, my heart pattering, my lips pursing for sin.

*

I let the water drip through the sugar cube into the disreputable spirit.

*

The silver spoon was wide enough for me to take it whole in my mouth.

*

You half-expect a concoction to pull you under like the tide of a full moon.

*

The liquid was verte and smooth and thick and clear like your eyes.

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*

It tasted of black licorice, green anise, sweet fennel, grande wormwood.

*

My German grandmother, Annie, drank Anisette at the Sunday dinner table (she always let me sip).

*

If you don’t know the dark side–it’s ability to turn you into a degenerate–you are missing the point.

*

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I’d suggest Degas, Maignan, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, Zola, Hemingway.

*

Poor, poor Jean Lanfray, a Swiss farmer, who after imbibing murdered his family and tried taking his own life–his actions being impetus enough to finally get the drink banned in Switzerland.

*

My lips nervously touched the glass lip, parted the way I might kiss a stranger, swallowed.

*

Waiting for something to happen, those hoped-for hallucinations, was like waiting for the moon to fall from the sky.

*

But all I saw was the bottom of the glass where the sugar had pooled, sweeter than sweet.

*

I laughed all the way home, laughed at that damn back seat, laughed so hard I almost cried.

*

Maybe I was a louche woman after all; maybe I’d never needed to sip of the green fairy.

*

Or maybe like most things in life, what we desire and what we get are never the same.

Black Bear

Bear
Bear

The black bear pillaging the neighbor’s blueberry bush
doesn’t stop to say “please” anymore than he leaves
with a “thank-you” dripping from his lips. Why then
should you and I exchange formalities in our commerce?
Have I not pleased you–and have you not said thank-you
in your own way?
We know how to cherish the bear–from afar,
so too our hearts learn the mastery of their reach.