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.
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.
for your birthday we poured martinis - threw fresh dough on a pizza stone and marveled at the magic of heat and cheese. just a few of us, this several pieces of one family you had made for yourself. good lord we all miss you.
in the evenings, when even the bones are tired and every bit of energy that could be conjured has been - there is still a young rapper in his room - discovering the magic of words - and another boy, taking a vacation from the wonders of the cosmos and finance to play a video game with a friend. the noises are absolute. my dog curls up like a pinto bean - his big ears on alert. something inside me hungers. so much of a day spent doing remains undone until the heart has had her chance to rumble. the fingers their chance to skip across the black pavers - at last awake.
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.
dear santa, please bring home: food for the hungry shelter for homeless solace for the grief stricken our country's sanity and a set of tree lights that lasts longer than a year.
We drive in traffic at night to see papa - who at almost 93 years old - is the first to call you toots. Irv's a good kid says his grandson - the other calls him homey. A Haagan Daz enthusiast, he drinks hot coffee from a red Solo keg cup and holds his own against top ranked players at daily Bridge. We will dip a chip in guacamole share a hunk of cheese and build a future we worry losing. Time makes everything delicious and awful. We love him like banana pancakes. (Written by Larry Ben Jonas and Danielle Salk in car on whim. )
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.
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.
i watched a child reach for a star and i could understand how she thought she might make it hers. i watched an elderly man shuffle a little to the left to clear a path for youth and i could understand how that might sting. i watched the crease under your eye disappear when you stopped smiling - and i realized i might lose you. there is nothing like time to heal a wound and to inflict one. i know you are mine and that you'll be mine forever - but there is a certain finality to the crease under your eye when you are not smiling - and it makes me realize - forever is not long enough.
sometimes people ask you a question and then get mad at you because they don't like the answer. sometimes you give someone your trust and they give you back a knuckle sandwich. sometimes you think every little thing is a-okay in the world and then you wake up. sometimes it hurts to laugh and feels good to cry and you have to ask am i little crazy? someone who really loves you will say "no."
sometimes i think about what it was like when i was three. you were four and a half my brother - showing me the ropes. when you taught me how to ride a bike you put me on it and just let go - i was pointed down hill. i rode as fast as lightning until i hit the curb and flipped over the bars into the bushes. you hoorayed and clapped so hard i felt certain i was a hero and didn't dare to cry. so much of how i came to believe the world was good and safe was because you were always there - pulling me in and out of danger - keeping me steady on my tiny feet, yelling pedal! pedal! run dani! fly!
it seems like every night i am chasing the minutes left wondering what happened and how it is i missed so much. at one time they were so little and every single day seemed to last forever - i was just so tired. now i am wide awake and they are big and 2 became 12 and 4 is 14 and i keeping asking them to stop. stop growing. stop leaving. stop breaking my momma heart at the very same time you fill it up. i think it is awful that if love its a verb, it's easy to be too busy to love. i'm signing up for do-overs.
the rain is back this time like a no nonsense bag lady collecting hours and their passing. i wanted to say something important today but there was turkey and cranberry mold funeral potatoes and green beans crispy onion, corn and cream - plus cookies and cake and pie. that shut me up like a million lazy minutes and all i could say was thank you. when we decide to age together and i mean really age - without all the trying - i hope you will remember that i am cute.
last night i played hooky - not on purpose - but because how do you stop or even think to stop and write a poem when you are living right in the middle of one? He is 92 and was married for 67 years. What's left of her, besides memories is tucked away in drawers - clip-on earrings, vintage prescription lenses empty bags in side of empty bags. socks. he wants me to have some pieces of hers - gives me gold and diamonds precious metal and stone. i want the tarnished chinese wiseman in the costume jewelry drawer. i will wear it i say until you move into my house - old man. we will grow young together now.
Los Angeles – highway five
A 92 year old man is waiting.
We will bring him the moon.