Too Late?

Things that are planned are usually birthed in the Spring.  I’ve noticed that extremely well organized people have babies always born in Spring.  Well laid plans have never been my strong suit.   Is it my Winter birth that forever follows me?     Winter is the death of Spring perhaps?        Maybe the death of something is truly the birth of another.  Still it’s Spring, I know because I barely leave the couch in Winter and today there is a bounce, a purposeful vigor about my every step, as if I am showing up to my first day on the job.      Today without knowing it, for better or worse the resurgence of a story  has been birthed, one that has been writing itself in my sub conscious,  finally to be resolved.        I can see budding crocus outside my door, just the green tips poking through the recently thawed earth.   The color of them a happy reminder of how powerfully perfect nature is.   I love the crocus, and planting them, putting this blonde chestnut of hope deep into the ground, once you’ve forgotten them they appear again.   I have forgotten what color I chose at the Nursery then my joy blooms double fold -they weren’t just limited to purple alone.  The petals shine with white stripes, delicately painted upwards, undecided, against the rules, I like that.       If I had time to check my calendar I’d see it was the last day in April.

On this day it wasn’t merely dirt the eager buds busted through; because so much happened to make the world so much bigger that day.  So much beckoned to slow me down and tell me “take notice.”     The very ground should’ve been worthy of new admiration, that place that started from many layers and earned the importance of being rich like earth not just soil that merely drops from one’s shoes.   I was even cleaning up my appearance that day which deserves fanfare; stripping off the old shirt that smelled like me, too much of me, all stretched into a bigger pattern of my body, my own form- the shirt with it’s creases, stretched and mis-shapen was not enough protection and comfort for later events, it hung loosely about me, like my soul that day.      I was racing, shoveling  spoonfuls of frosted Mini Wheats, thankfully the last they’d been opened the packaged was tightly sealed, I smiled at that, baby steps I thought….the rice milk dripping down my chin.   I was the classic under planner where time was concerned I always thought I had plenty.

On this day the birds chirped that much louder.   Noise, I was always sensitive to.  The sun wanted to shine, the air felt of desperation or so I thought, but the chirping was squawking and fighting, even the birds were quarreling , probably about why the sun couldn’t just shine today, just this once. April Showers……

And As I nervously twirled my hair and scooted across the street, flinging water spatters up the back of my jeans, I tried to avoid the eyes of the homeless men and women that dressed as men, dirty with their pretend gaze of hope, rattling a paper cup below their toothless smiles….I looked to the ground-  not today I thought.   Seconds later life teetered above me and the crushed metal and the sound of screeching rubber was all consuming,  young handsome faces,  were there three of them or were my eyes working properly?  They must be working I feel their input, stares,  mouthing words, “are you okay?” ” Can you hear me?” but the honesty and horror direct from there eyes deep into mine told the real story.

It was still up to me to stop hurrying.   I never did.    The ambulance slid around the corner sideways,  as if the frost had glazed the pavement like a doughnut just about to be dipped in coffee, it all changed.  The paper said speed was a factor-not ice.   She was so eager to get to the 6th floor,  to ride the old rickety elevator with the screen that pulled across and the carved metal and the clanking sounds that made you question whether to take the stairs today or risk not knowing.     When it hit her, silence, the world shut down, every one stopped dead, like a trendy moment on you tube; frozen mannequins.  The paramedics stepped out with stretchers and the beggars surrounded us too.   What spilled forth from her blood on the street made them gasp  and step back a moment.    There she lay amidst the pavement, the smell of urine no longer a concern,  her black velvet shoes pointed  at the shopping carts filled with sleeping bags and remnants of attempts at life.  They had  front row seat to even more sadness,  real sadness, hope never realized, a life once cradled in gentle caring hands, the  ring leader of drunken  vagrants pressed through the crowds that had assembled and peeled off his dirty overcoat, folding it to cushion her head from the hard wet pavement,  as if she were a tender thing.      When she bled onto the street words fell from her blood, leaked out of her, all over the pavement like the street were a blank TV screen with an early morning children’s program spilling the ABC’s.     Words released themselves looking to be caught like silvery jumping fish avoiding a net.    Visibly the words spilled as if straight from her veins, airplane, sandwich, heartbreak, guns,  Morocco, Retriever, author, philanthropist; dreams dashed when it appeared from the look of her skin and the sheen of her blonde hair there was so much time still?        Why an ambulance, why, why?!    That was mere frosting on a bitter, bitter cake, why was she rushing to her therapists that day and not to her publisher?

The Lesson nestled deep inside.

In a lifetime there’s no telling what we are exposed to that wriggles in deep and impacts our psyches, for better or worse.   One of my first memories is seeing a woman speeding across the J.C. Penny’s parking lot and my sister’s blonde hair hurling itself- what seemed like six feet into the air, along with the rest of her five year old frame, first the thud, then the reality.   The woman in her silver car still continuing on as if she didn’t just hit a small child.   I can still hear the aid car sirens and see flashes of red light making my shy sister the spectacle. I was three and well, she was the bossy older sister, always the smarter; this should have never happened. I am 45 now and I remember the day like it were last week.  The slant of the sun was nothing more than welcoming, it wasn’t in the driver’s eyes.    She was simply speeding.   I can see the grey bumpy rock façade on the Department store outside the Penny’s building. Thank god it didn’t kill her, what an ugly place that would be to die. I remember the horror in my mother’s face. Was my mom tending to me-is that where my sister’s anger towards me truly began?   Had she died, being three, I wouldn’t even have known to tell her I loved her.

In contrast, I have seen many pleasant things in this life too…. so why can I more easily recall the bad ones?….the blood pooling up in the parking lot where the tires of a Chevy Sedan crushed a boy’s head, during pick-up after Catholic Catechism?  This was the first time I questioned God.  So much brings me back to being Catholic, which was the only qualifying value imparted from the likes of my step father that was good and that stuck.   His rigid rules felt like love, his laughter felt like love, his love of red wine, well I learned to emulate that too, like any good Catholic does, as a way to soften the blow of not measuring up to Catholic Perfection.    Their were good things about my Catholic upbringing?     Donuts and dressing up for our First communion.   It felt fancy like we were royal blood,  I felt distinct from this priest, robed and using this word “worship.” He was seemingly so special in God’s eyes, he probably awoke without morning breath?      I liked a father figure since we had a step dad that worked nights.  The smell of his late night pan seared steaks filling the air as I slept, were comfort enough that he indeed had come home.   He was not A father- but he was a dad.   A father was  “Father Peter,” his soft hands, his full smile that fixed his eyes on you long enough to actually see you, hear you.     He was an important contrast to this man, my dad, the airplane mechanic, wearing overalls and Chukka boots and lighting up when I called him Daddy.    He was sometimes nice and sometimes hurtful.  I feel grateful today he stepped up for the job. And most grateful that he insisted we kids go to Sunday Mass.  If for nothing more than the candles and the music and the hope it inspired.     I can hear the priest cracking a joke,  despite his garb, robed in a starched looking garment, embroidered with gold etchings and fabric stiffer than my grandmother’s curtains.  How comforting, I would think, that even the perfect souls cracked jokes?     I marveled at how and why he would wave sage and incense; its puffs of steam coming from the tiny holes in the large brass tea sieve.  He didn’t seem to clue in how silly this seemed, making strokes as if he was painting the air with the seriousness of an impressionist artist.  I wondered if, when he waved it over the body of my grandfather- if it did anything different than it did now?

I guess I owe a lot to this figment-the one I pictured looking like the Eskimo on the tail of the Alaska Airlines jets.   Even if I refused the idea, the notions dipped into my life and pulled back-surprising me with it’s force, like a jet passing by.   And without that Catholic school dance in the basement of St. Stephen’s church, I may have never had my first kiss?      There in the downstairs in plain view with God himself upstairs, shadows teased at our faces… speckling the plain beige tiles of the floor with rainbows of color.  Without God being witness, I cannot imagine it being so perfect, they way my heart spilled under the disco ball as our lips touched.  Somehow there was this odd knowing, this presence, that erased any hint of shame or insecurity,  this knowing stood as if on legs before me telling me,  these are the very memories that  blot out the bad ones?

So when I try not to fixate on those OTHER days, to escape the child at the air base in Glen view, Illinois,  a very real witness to the excitement of a plane taking off and the horror of that plane crashing-right before my 8  year old eyes.   What mattered good or bad was how it affected us. What mattered more than ugliness was that there was somehow a beautiful lesson nestled deep inside of it.    That bushy almost handsome bearded guy they had me visualize in mass had told me so-not in so many words.   My hope is that he also finds time to send a message bigger than words to tell my sister that the good…. will eventually ..outweigh the bad.

Anger Serum

A good friend spoke these words to me,

As my insides squeezed inward,

An invisible fist wringing my heart,

My breath dashed away,

“it’s just a drink”

For her it was….Simply, a beverage

For me it was utter darkness lifted,

Painful quietude removed,

I sipped, then I gulped,

The light switched on,

The dark empty room bright with light,

Like a toy room awaiting a sick boy,

By the second glass innocence freed,

Me- a floppy, toy rabbit,

Coming alive, ambling out of the walls,

Add red wine, a catholic priest, a wafer of grape on my tongue,

Demons giggle and rise to the top,

The rabbit is in full swing; Tango, Foxtrot, Lindy Hop,

Eased by smiles flashed her way,

Is it the flaring of the dress that gains approval?

The yearning subsides,

I am skating, gliding on the glass top

Like a figurine on a child’s music box,

Pulled as if a magnet tugs beneath my skates,

A once dormant smile stretches wide

My heart drops out,

If only temporarily,

I am Weightless, buoyant, bobbing free

Wanting for more red anger serum

 

Not So Alone

The people down below

Have been doused for days;

a proper washing…

Where’s the scrub brush?

A little misting wouldn’t do.

The sunshine, a large kindly dose,

Was sent to warm them fully,

To rebirth their kindness,

To widen their eyes….

To the needs of those hurting,

To remind them,

even beauty can be harsh;

Even Blinding at times,

Why did they not slow….to smile at one another?

Why didn’t they stop to splash about?

I didn’t want to pummel them with non-stop rain,

But they needed to be soaked,

Plastered, sopping, cold to the bone

Look up, take note

You are not so alone

If only we had some Wings……

I hear Band on the Run,
And see the carpeted brown stage,
I picture years of me bouncing about;
in the ugly golden yellow split level
We called home.
We had so many years there
I am realizing now
staring, looking for more,
meeting your blank eyes for answers,
Is this tease of death enough to wake you?
At least laughter still peeps up
in the clouds of blue
Purposefully and silly, you widen them
your eyes… at me,
you were always funny, always.
You see a whole life of me,
cause we celebrate the same day of our birth
cause we’re January 12ths
Your eyes dip and lull, vacant, then gone
Please smile inside for me, we’re here.
Oh Daddy, if only we had some
Wings…….

Aging, the wonderous Carmelization of Self

Aging, the Wonderous Carmelization of self

Let it be known, it’s natural to ponder life, tick, tick ticking away. Before your eyes, your first child walks then drives a car, gets married. Life unravels before you- like it or not. It’s meaning, its’ call, it’s message? Nothing that cannot be found in any number of songs, from the Eagles, to Aretha to Merle Haggard, it’s there like that sign you’ve driven by for years and just noticed.ds….…As we accrue another year, as if it were a freckle, we cannot turn away from those lessons, those hidden gifts, they simply are everywhere.
People, myself included, as they age, often want the brief scenario of things, the quick n dirty. I even gravitate towards the section of the newspaper, that tells the most in the least amount of words, I just love the obituaries for this reason. Seems morbid-yes? I find it honest, the topic of life, calls death on the carpet in contrast. Perhaps we read the obits to feel as though our lives are in good measure; keeping in stride with at least the average person’s story. If for nothing more, than ticking off of our list-what five Who, What Where When and Why’s of our lives would be of mention if today was our last day on earth? Do you fall short, and if so, what’s stopping you from get busy with your real truth the job you were sent to do. Today may as well be the day you get busy fluffing up your story, putting the finishing touches on the life that defines who you truly are?
For many, we find being a parent, a graduate, a stable, conforming, law abiding, home owning member of society perhaps is too insignificant to chalk up to being successful. Today, just dream a little, risk a little, be brave and fearless if just for today. Google that idea you’ve been sitting on. Research open land to build that house, or that roller rink in the nasty part of town to give kids a place to have fun and be safe? Is there a patent on your invention? How much would you really have to save to do it? Just maybe, it is brilliant or innovative or original or soooo good someone did it already? That’s validation. You know that project you don’t have the money to do? You know that plane ticket you don’t have the money to purchase- make it happen? Go find it, sell your art, sell your table, refurbish old shit and double the price, make your prized cracker recipe (my neighbor has a huge newly built house for this exact reason!) don’t whine about never having been there, find a way, and GET there! Polish up your obituary before you must, hurry to volunteer and shine up your unattained goals! Make it happen. I for one want to be moved, inspired; relieved by your good ending…. if in fact-God willing, you end up in the Obituary section of tomorrow’s paper!

Yesterday

serious, as a shirt pressed crisp,

white as white

face the mirror, reluctant but open eyed

imperfect, soured by habit;

see as if feeling weren’t there

magnifying yesterday, up close to  see the pain

I quiet my thoughts, judgment spills through me like a sieve

the sun was forecast to follow the rain;

I seek to learn, to know, to be, to practice;

 even that which is unnatural

diffuse the jagged sparks of old; 

 see the crust form around the pool of pain

tenderly surround your inner plight, the truth as if your heart set that goal, the good

the path which invites you, the link from eye to heart

prevails through only art

just as it should

 

 

the burdens of change what’ true fine art

my outward body pleads with inward soul

<suddenly it's less heavy to lift each foot, and life the endless stroll becomes an adventure

I wear my wrinkles pridefully

as the masochist that used to thirst for blood, is busily collecting the wrinkles of time, no longer wishing to cover up the scars

 

 

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