Backyards

Dark purple silk palms
spread profusely from twig wrists,
trail delicately over the tall woodslat fence
that separates our yards.

Tiny fragile white startles
of petals cluster together
on the tips of lean, limber vines,
shimmy softly in the uneven breeze.
The jungle next door tantalizes.

On the opposite side, my other neighbors
plant a waist-high picket fence
between our yards,
whirling windtoys
and tidy raised wood boxes
of dark soil,
beds for vegetables and flowers.

Rakes, shovels, a worn pitchfork
lean against the wall of their  home.
Adolescent fruit trees
elbow awkwardly
from corners.

The old two-story oak
with recently shortened limbs
hovers,
waiting to grow soft,
supple again.

My yard,
a bare block of crewcut grass
and clover, a thick short hedge or two.
A chest-high rubbery roundness
hunkers down in one corner,
a succulent cabbage-like hulk.

Spindly impatiens scrabble
across from the bedraggled fern.
The fading wood lattice
slants sideways, empty.

Calla lilies weed up
by the back door,
forest green
plastic Adirondack yardchairs
arm by arm
on the rectangle of concrete.

The gray cat prowls the bare patches
of survivor growth,
peers through the weathered picket fence.
I imagine she wants to lie
in the tender charmyard
of cherry tomatoes and bachelor buttons,
to paw at spinning yellow windmills
and tiny wood stickbirds.

I sit
taking in the neighboring passions,
stumped, overwhelmed, unable
to turn over this soil,
wishing for green delicate grace
to materialize
in this small naked square.

Despair puckers its split lips
and mutters its busy rote
while my fingers
pluck at the
plastic chair arms.

She said

when invited to join a memoir writing class at a local senior center, “who wants to write about what you wanna forget?”

“what day is today?” over and over.  My neighbor repeats the news of her close friends memory loss every time I ask how her friend is doing.

she was usually “the most attractive woman in any group” she found herself a part of.  She said it very casually, conversationally,  with a bit of a twinge of “Ethel Merman-ness” swagger. I was not the only other woman present at the time but I think she was primarily addressing the men in our group. She did look good but her manner and statement made me think more of “The Twilight Zone” than jealous or insecure.  Even if all the guys were attracted to her. I’m sure she didn’t even register my presence. Very weird female. With a strong east coast accent-bent words from a bent mind.

we needed to “be frank” with each other. I’d never experienced mama saying such a thing before-much less in this direct earnest caring but almost businesslike manner    Wonder-full surprise of a moment.

from her hospital bed that last night how she didn’t want to leave me but she didn’t want to be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace…?

It was during the ebb of the week that I noticed it’s gathering near.  More like sensed an approach, really. It wasn’t something I saw. Or heard or smelled. More a slight pressure I felt around my eyes, maybe. Or my head. Or throat.

Could have been even a lessening of pressure, now that I really think about it all. Whatever it was, I felt very calm, quiet as I sensed a feathered rhythm joining with my breath.

Traffic sounds whipped from buzzing insult to whirring wingedness. Birdly buttered voices slipped in and out of my minds seams.  This is what it’s like, I remember thinking.  This absence.  This gliding opening. This preparation for filling.  Like some grace was heading my way and I was letting it get close. And for once closeness was in me and not on me, all heavy and soaked.

Spirit Rock Center

I drove up the entrance road
past shaggy horses
in a fenced off section of the field
wondering again
if they mind the damp, the cold,
grow tired standing
on delicate legs.

Inside, she talked to us about winter,
about the way winter vegetables
grow beneath the surface
of the earth,
carrots, squash and onions-
about winter darkness
taking over
the day.

In the long silence
that followed,
my thoughts drifted
like horses grazing,
my body darkening,
opening  to my underground.

Breaths became tiny full seeds,
thoughts stirring thin roots,
sensations, fragile shoots
delicate under skin,
emotion webbing,
twining through my teeth,
out my mouth down my arms.

I rested
inside the dark ground
of my belly,
the quiet muffle of blood.

In a slow moment
before
my eyes opened
I could see
the field
of us.
Cabbages, turnips, potatoes.
Dark gardens
stretching
upward.