Adoration

I wear my husband’s denim work-shirt to pick through the blackberry thicket. Thin thorns carve hairline scratches into my forearms.  There are not enough ripe berries to make a pie, but I fill a small bowl.  A surprise for when he gets home later.  I pace the lawn and identify wildflowers: Sourgrass.  Moth mullein.  His car rolls up the driveway after sunset.  The dog and I run as fast as we can to greet him –  the ghost of him.

“You look like hell.”

The next day he tells me about a girl who looks at him like I used to- with adoration.

He’s often late that summer.  I wait up for him after a gig in Buffalo.  Dinner sits untasted in the kitchen.  I try to picture reasonable scenarios for the delay.  He eventually calls near midnight, stalled in his friend’s car, on 90 West, not too far away.  I leave the house fast – lights on, doors unlocked.  I load a fuel can from the garage into my hatchback.  I feel sick from the fumes, even with the windows rolled down.  I wonder if he told his friends about the girl.  If they condone it.

She pulls behind the stalled car and maintains a helpful, wifely veneer.  “Don’t get out.” Her husband says as he pops the hatch.  I peek my head into her passenger window to chat while he refuels.    “Hey, thank you so much!  We tried to fill up but the station was closed! ”  “You’re welcome.” She says “There’s a lot of food waiting at the house, if you’re hungry.”  He puts the gas-can back into her trunk with a firm “Let’s go!”

My husband schleps his music shit through the front door.  His friend follows me into the fluorescent blaze of the garage.  I set the empty fuel can on a shelf and try to read his eyes.   Dark, wide-set – kind as always.  No trace of my pain, no weight of witnessing a failed partnership.

“What’s happenin’?” he drawls, opening his arms wide.  “It’s so good to see you!”   I step across the garage and allow myself this comfort, resting my head against his neck. He smells sweet of sweat, cigarettes, ferns.  Blackberry leaves steeping in the hot decline of summer.  I hold him and try not to cry.

I follow her through the side door, where the dog loudly wags his tail against the washing machine.   “There’s lots of food in the kitchen!” She says, as we kick off our shoes.  The dog brings us gifts: old blankets, discarded paper towel rolls, cereal boxes.  We gather them graciously and make a fuss, laughing at his simple self-satisfaction.

I want to keep her laughing.  I want her to stop searching my face with pleading, fearful eyes.

My husband must’ve told him about the girl.  Our friend is too conversational, too animated.  Excited about the food, praising the blackberry crumble pie, describing people he met over the weekend.    The three of us stay up late at the kitchen table, talking.

“I realize now that I want this someday.  Marriage, a stable home.  I admire you both!”

Shit, he doesn’t know.  I get sick for a second, force a smile.  “Oh, honey, no.  This is so much work!”

I flash my eyes towards my husband.  “Did you have any epiphanies in Buffalo?”

“Not really.”

“I think, I finally got the hang of dancing this weekend.  Can you two-step?”  I gently lift her hands and lead her from the table. I patiently teach her, while the husband stares in disbelief. She’s clumsy at first, then delighted.

We skitter fast across the surface of her grief – an impossible, weightless freedom.  The dog paces back and forth with endless offerings, scattering cardboard tubes at our feet like roses.

For Lev

Silent, slender, side-eying –
Eerily aware that something isn’t really
Right here. With him. With you.
Young but not unfeeling. No, just the opposite.
Oh, the whole town knows. Something zoetic
Zips from mouth to mouth about HER.
Have you heard? Mamma has been outed as an
Adulterer. 

Restless Ploughboy Blues

Author’s Note:  I have respawned and died a thousand lives since I wrote this song for my Dear Muse and Friend.  It is a wellspring of words, a touchstone to travel through time – always a place for editing, reframing, and sparking new stories.  I am grateful.

Much love to you, as always.


 

restless ploughboy blues

bright light,
i miss you so much
that i feel like dying

every time
i hear
your name

so i speak it often,
slap-happy noon high
or creaking in darkness.

one time,
the wonder of living
was lost

to me

 

you returned it
asking only for mad poems
to solve hedgehog dilemmas.

blue nights,
lost in nightmares.
fighting the urge to call

broken

by the wish
to hear from your voice
that you remember

this path where
our lives once twined
and that we are real.

still life,
staring in mirrors
the safety we seek

lies

in loving ourselves
and being too kind
do not to pry as to why

it is easier
with you near
brother.

what we are not
can never be
again.

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Between Homes

(the heights
adrift
summer ’19)

bando calls one night
he sounds uncertain

says he can’t find me
in the map of his mind
can’t picture rooms i sleep in

can’t trace the roads
or render the structures
connecting us together

i must re-learn
to pin myself down

i close my eyes
picturing the time
he taught me to read a map

lorain county hangs
above dad’s workbench
my small hands seeking home

(delaware
avenue
summer ’92)

Oranges (III of III)

Example 3.  Something about the orange peel scented sunlight ties me back into a single point of consciousness.  This first vivid remembrance of citrus-based time travel is in Florida.


Casique

frigid seawater
clings to my abdomen
buoys my small hands
rigid in anticipation

my stomach churns
orange juice, toast,

acrid adrenaline

stripping off fear
like a wetsuit

her gray bottlenose
touches my fingertips
smooth as a hardboiled egg
better than i dreamt it

Oranges (Part II of III)

Example 2.  Field notes of citrus-based modes of travel through the space-time-continnuum.


 

California

Time carves mountains into Yosemite.
Higher than the gracious California sky.

Reclining in clefts above the valley floor,
I eat oranges to restore my energy.

Cool juice runs down the insides of my wrists.
Seeping sweet through blue veins, climbing towards sunlight.

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Oranges (I of III)

The ability to time-travel or teleport through the use of fruit is possible.  Let’s start with the most recent case.


 

Fresno Blues

blackout curtains
partially obscure
the hot april sun

a cold breeze
tart through a
third story
window

enhances the taste
of a fresh-peeled orange

i lean my head back
against the window screen

cleveland
spring has
a few
snows more

but fresno’s
growing
season
barely ends

you can park your car
and run through the groves

back towards the soft certain
warmth of ohio june