We arrive sleepy and bent - a crumpled wad of desire for something new. These wet hot streets - a vistors reckoning - grief. But that is what you carried here my dear - packed neatly in your bags - folded, creased, alert. I tried to find the thing that made London her own. But, belonging to everyone and spread so densely through street upon alley upon court with flesh, she's a union of nations at once - scurrying about in search. The homeless prefer, it seems, to sleep in broad daylight beside a riot of words. There are no shoes, a tired beard, an altar of water bottles left at his feet. I thought about quitting marriage when I couldn't summon joy - as if London should ring that old bell back into awakening. But it was dinner time again - and every other door an open mouth for feeding. So we dine so we sleep so we rise once more and when you say good-bye i love you at last.
what would you do, heart without a cell phone ringing or me texting and snapping and retrieving one hundred and fifty times a day? what would you say, heart without me having to answer every forty emails, deleting forty more and bothering so much with Siri? what would happen to you, heart - in all your soft glory - if you could just beat and love and beat some more? intuiting the vastness of stars before night even falls. catching his breath before she walks into the room. embracing my child before he walks away. i remember when. there was a feeling. so much to feel really. so much more.
i cannot say why it should be okay to have faith drawn out on a limb hanging mid air as if some sort of reconciling could warrant what's broken. there is no word nor sign nor even prayer that might at once undo the ruddy ache of having and losing and finally losing heart. what is terrible then is that we love. and our loving, like balloons in a hurricane, is torn from us - even as we covet the softest sweetness inside - where only his aliveness has touched you - where only he has been for you. i imagine though that he finds you - even now, through crooked slumber and honest despair - where if your eyes were closed you both could see and even if you did not touch you both could feel - there where your loving has allowed a living and a leaving - and both as honest as a thousand migrant winds - back and forth forever undoing and confirming what we think we know about life about death about love.
people are dying - and also there is cancer like a maniac bully breaking our hearts. i wanted to feel something - one time for itself - without another something to hold it up against or toward. but what's so is the tragic beauty of everything we love - dissolving in front of us as we become.
your dying is a lazy mountain waterfall without an end. i am looking under rocks - in between the manzanita and madrone - under moss and lichen - hands deep in a hollowed oak trying to find the empty. but there is still too much. an overwhelming overflowing of your aliveness - a certain surely still at home i am here about it. a lie. or not. you left me a ruby rimmed with diamonds - a crimson and aqua rug - some china and a desk. ee cummins,david sedaris,the best loved poems of jacki o. a life of scripture, "everything that is yes" love. we pretended to bury you yesterday. but you were there at lunch running the show. and now i am thinking about what is lovely and there you are again and me and we.
we have always liked to organize things differently. you file beautiful next to exquisite and lush and tradition - your systems become tasteful displays of abundance - while i like to purge and name the spaciousness something pretty. you bring the color while i remove the things that filter it. you have big soft hands and a warm heart and room to hold every little thing that is sacred close. my hands are dry from all the scrubbing and i try my best not to hold on to things. still, i will leave your home every time with my arms full of certain special gifts i could not have lived without. a poem clipped from an old magazine - an ancient alligator suitcase - the rusted locks and tired lining proof that you can stop time. and i would. stop time. i wonder how many times i have taken the fake poinsettias down - tripping over my own feet and the heavy curtains that line the closet - the ladder leaning against the wall like an old friend i have used twice a year forever. the string of christmas lights in a round hat box that i will not test this year breaks me. but i do not cry. only some of them would have lighted. and i would have wrestled them around the tree like i do every year, finding out a little too late that one string needs to be replaced, again. you would point out the holes where the light is not enough. where it is dark. we will fill the tree with color again - every year with your box of color - we will fill the tree to overflowing - all the sparkling glass balls and crystal boxes, the shiny bundles of red berries and intricate ornamentation - the precious hold-it-in-your-hand beauty - the loveliness of things made meaningful by your keeping. this time you say go ahead and give the poinsettias away and we act like it is no big deal. someday when we have grown weary of the attic i will ask you for the ladder. this is how she taught me i will say to make beauty worth giving away and memories worth keeping. i will have tiny clippings of poems and articles cut - things you saved and stored and finally delivered as if it were no trouble at all that you cared enough to save it. this year we'll get the tree early and maybe spill red wine on the sofa or not use coasters. we will have known better and that will be what counts. that because of you we will have known better.
finally, i got so tired of words - and the way they were being used to destroy what we love and who we love and even how - that i quit them. just stopped writing. like the fury of a hundred years could be contained instead in prayer. but when the answers didn't line up and my own silence started to feel more like cowardice - i quit that too. had a run with rage. and ignorance. i found it is terrible to hate, even the haters. so I'm picking up the words again - like so many wild flower seeds - and i am throwing them into the wind. into the abominable hatred - even as it tries to oppress - i am throwing the words and the seeds and the light back in the face of the darkness and i am hoping that in the midst of all this dirt and manure - our wild flowers will grow. And they will take over all this shameful, barren bullshit with their outrageous color.
for a minute i forgot you. or maybe it was a week or a month or any time really - that is longer than okay - until suddenly something leapt from a quiet divot in my chest and, remembering, i raced to tell you that i am still every minute and week and month so much enamored with you - my friend, my heart, my gift.
i jumped off the bridge last night in my heart and now some twelve hours later i still haven't hit the bottom - the immeasurable depth of being, too terrific to slam up against with something so simple as flesh. so i wait. think about the crawling out - the accent - the way back up to where things are indeed okay even inside the darkness. even with it. the frailty of being human - a hoax. i know the clouds are grey for a reason - that there will be more rain and disaster. but also i know, from it will come new growth and this is where i rest against the walls of a weary heart - pull myself back out and up - where i can dare again for joy.
i am sorry for dying - the way the orchid petal limps and clings - refusing to drop. i found all the merchandise a heartbreak - the way i said i love you with a boxful and ribbon - as if even a portion of my reverence could be contained. when time steals you away from me - because you are growing and learning to love things outside of Us - i wonder at having had once my own dreams - before i cared more about an elusive collective and following your youth into the night.
when they forgave me - for words i had not spoken - i hurried to use my voice again, for forgiveness's sake itself. before i changed for the better, i broke things. a stampede through time unaware of the china - a hurricane of doubt in a trusting heart - oblivion on top of indifference - and the tiny riot of fear. people said come back - there is room here - in-between the pictures you left, are all these blank pages upon which to show you care.
i am thinking about dads today and how my own died way to young - and how so much of who i have become was because of this man - that, in some ways, i barely knew. but i knew him. i know your dad died early too, and yours. and how hard it is for all of us to look at our boys, our sons, our nephews and think - they will never get to meet him, or - god, my dad would love you. i am proud. to have had a dad. to have, through marriage and love helped make one. to understand the delicate fabric that holds our men together - that shapes our boys. I feel dangerously too close sometimes - to the essence of things - how i catch a glimpse of my child walking passed in a man's body. he carry's my father's death with him, you know and lends him another life.
i spoke to an old friend today who belongs at the beach but lives somewhere else. and i wanted to erase time for him and destroy space so he would be here again in a town that loves him. "they have no idea who you are, do they?" i asked, thinking how absurd you can be famous in one town, and a total stranger in another. "No they don't," he said and i wanted to cry for what they're missing. we are these little worlds to each other meaning so much depending so much on each other for our rotation. i think when you remove one of us from the solar system - all of the other planets wobble. or, at the very least - i mean to say - i miss you.
when i was a child i very much wanted to be famous - so that everyone would know how special i was. at four i decided when i grew up i would marry johnny cash so i could make him happy. they seemed such useful goals. now,as an adult,i only want to be more reflective - so that the people who love me can see how special they are instead. and if i could - i would marry my husband again - this time not trying to make him anything different than he already is. i know i got a much better life than i deserve. when i go to bed at night, i try to think of new ways to pay it forward. sometimes it's just shutting up.
i don't like mean people as well as i like the nice ones. kinda like it's better to be healthy than barfing in a bush. some things are simple like that. still, life makes you suffer a bully or two before you get your free slurpee. eventually, if you don't let the bad stuff get you down, you'll own the whole 7-11. start with a few good friends.
my pen is broken from too much thinking. where without the soothing curse of love - i might be bored. someday my friends will find me asleep in an attic at noon. curled up in a pile of cards they sent through the years. there is a chocolate cake pillow and a little a little cup of tea.
i dont drink but tonight i wore a missile toe and mimosa t-shirt with the arms cut off to qualify for the ugly sweater party. all of my friends are beautiful. they donned their santa-riding-a-unicorn sweaters and acrylic reindeer shells and tried to neutralize their exquisiteness with Tacky - but it is just impossible. one friend showed me an app where she could wipe her screen with her index finger and she swore it was erasing our wrinkles. i could not stop laughing. not because i couldn't tell the difference but because i thought it was so damn funny that she would try to erase the wrinkles on a photo of something so imperfectly perfect already. plus it was the way her finger rubbed back and forth naive almost, the finger, i could barely take it. friendship cannot be measured in cocktails poured or hors d'oeuvres served or even sweaters worn. but little fingers on screens and white elephant re-gifts and the magic of reading the bill held out three feet in front of you... one eye closed for squinting the other shot full of love. girlfriends are just the best. there is no other way to say it.
the fairies are coming in their holiday sparkles with their christmas jingles and their hanukah lights - and you can almost feel the cheer thickening the air. it's nice to be alive when there is extra hope afloat. and to watch people cozying up and sitting closer - to beat the cold. mostly, though, i like the sound of you snoring - like a sedated lion harmless and safe beside me.
Forty is a magic number like 7 and 11 and 13. Forty is when you are closer to fifty that you are to twenty and you just cannot believe it. It is also when mean people start to not matter and your real friends show themselves and your occupation is only part of who you are. It matters who you love when you are forty - because you realize you may be half way home or on the back nine or however you say to old to screw around anymore. It matters who loves you back now also - more than it did before - because who has time anymore for half-assed love affairs and broken promises and the greatest insult of indifference? Forty is great because you really start to care about things that matter - differently than you could when you were thirty - and you've lived enough life to simply reply "because i said so" when someone asks you why. At 46, I'm thinking 'hells to the yeah' just watch me put in some crest strips and hit Facebook - i'll write a poem all about the life.