Northern New Mexico: “Where We Wouldn’t Know Who to Hate”

nm2
Laya’s hands are small, almost childlike, and she is a short woman, easily a head below me, but she seems to tower above me. It’s not the first marvel.

She escorts me, with a bit of a waddle, to the massage therapy room, and I think, “This is going to be good.” Something about her fragrance, her shoulders, straight and forgiving. She exuded confidence in an ‘I got this’ sort of way, which I admire, especially when it is absolutely genuine, earned, and packaged economically. The massage did not disappoint.

Somewhere between oil rub, salt scrub, and clay facial–all birthday presents and annual treats–we managed small bits of actual conversation. Bits beyond my sighs and her saying, “Feel good?” And my mumbling something positive and dozing back into the “ahhhhh” of a terrific massage.

She balled those little hands into tight fists, and she worked with a stunning ability to dig deep into my muscles. Did she just hit my femur? I became jelly. Happy, happy, calm, jelly. The room smelled sweet, like honey or peaches, and stark, eucalyptus. My nose was massaged as well.

In one of our chatty bits she pretty much turned my brain into jelly, too. She responded to my inquiry about what brought her from New York to New Mexico. Her accent was weary, but distinct enough that it made me curious. Her reply will stay with me forever.

“My husband is Jamaican,” she said, as the dull, exacting tool of her fist found another calcium deposit in my shoulder. Ahhhhh.

“We came here for our kids.” And just when I thought she could go no deeper, she reached into my lung, I think, and released age-old stress.

“We came her so our kids wouldn’t know who to hate.” And her fists rode across my shoulder blades like an old Chevy truck, heavy and determined. My muscles cracked and hissed like steam released from a rickety teapot. I felt empty and full.

“There are so many shades of brown here,” she concluded moving around to the front of the table, her ribs to my head and preparing to go into my shoulders with the full frontal force of hers. “We’ve been here for years.”

Jelly.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is wise and compassionate guidance, especially in recognizing good from bad and right from wrong. Doing so with color blind direction is–has it always been?–difficult, courageous, and honorable. I didn’t ask about her kids, husband, or the success in reaching their goal. I knew the answers.

The shades of the landscape in New Mexico are as resplendent in their diversity as in the population. Shades of brown? Laya is right. Shades of language. Shades of cultures. Shady rivers.

I travel there for solace and vistas, colors and calm. I met Laya, and I’m struck both by her need to find a place where her children would not know who to hate, and her having found it, or created it.

My shoulders hurt the next day, but in a good way. My spirit, well, it soared. Although I do not believe, sadly, that we can find a place where there is no hate in this world, I believe we can make one, even if it as small as our own home, or our massage table, or a village north of Santa Fe. Being able to choose the landscape for such an endeavor is a gift, a dream. American.

A little massage, a little wisdom. Look at me, waxing all philosophical.

Life is good.

Buying Peaches at a Roadside
or
Lo Leo, Pero No Lo Hablo

Your language rolls like nectar
off your tongue
into the air
as fragrant and sweet
as the peaches you sell.

I listen and envy
each word.

Cuántos duraznos le doy, seño?
Dos pesos cada uno, diez por seis.

Your language sings from your throat.
From mine, it sticks to my tongue
like a goat head
when I sorely attempt
a mere syllable
I can’t make the sounds

the music turned around
went the other way.

Like a shy child I hold up
the correct amount of fingers
to answer you
as the words,

Seis, por favor,
hide behind my tonsils.

“Six peaches, please,” I think
in my language
spilling ashamed
and silent

down my throat.

Gracias,” you smile.
I walk away
with my peaches
my language
my bachelors degree.

Photos of Ojo Caliente from yours truly, except for the peaches, those are from nmfarmersmarket.net

Biscuits

irishcheddarbiscuits840x470

Biscuits

I am quite blessed
to be gifted with guests
who visit my life
my soul and take
me into their arms
as warm as biscuits
with sweet yellow butter
a bit of honey
and they say,
“you’re okay, girl,”
and they mean it
and I feel gentle again.

I shall die some death
some day and do so
knowing that I was loved
and listened to like
a shell
by those who put
their ear to me
and stayed to listen
through all of my storms.

I am blessed and grateful
and wish you
sunny pastries,
long beaches,
many skips to your stones
and consistent tides.

Friend

Secrets at Seven Years Old

psychedelicMy brother’s bedroom was off limits, but that never stopped me from many things in my youth. Having eight siblings, 72 first cousins, and hundreds of class mates at St Mary’s of Redford grade, middle and high school—let alone thousands of parishioners in our little corner of the Detroit metropolis—there was always someone not to talk to, or some place not to go. Life, even at my youngest, involved secrets. Siblings ganging up on other siblings. Don’t tell. Schoolmates commiserating on a plan or a trick or a hoax against a classmate or a teacher. Don’t tell. Adults gossiping. Shhhh, don’t tell.

Kids created clubs and found secret hideouts. In fifth grade, four of us girls created the Spider Club, because when we did the spider walk, arm in arm, legs crossing over each other’s, we were cool, and we looked like a spider. We wore black. We had a hideout. Kids made easy game of hiding things, burying treasure, secreting away the trove of goodies we’d come upon especially after the holidays or birthdays or Halloween. With six older siblings this was simply part of survival. And secured that I would get to eat my own candy.

The mystery and intrigue of others’ secrets seems natural, we thrive on it. We humans like to have secrets and discover other’s secrets. There is a certain power in knowing what others don’t, knowing what others wish they knew, and knowing that you could tell them, if you dared. That superiority seems a disdain-able characteristic of adults. Purely childish for kids. It would seem that one of the reasons children view adults as authoritative and elusive is that they know things, they have secrets. It seemed a privilege of adults, or certainly my older siblings, that they got to know things that I did not. I hated that. Feeling somehow left out. But it made having my own secrets feel that much more mature. Big secrets. Big girl.

When one of my brothers disappeared one summer, and I asked to his whereabouts, I was told ‘he ran away,’ and that I wouldn’t understand. Would I not, as a seven-year-old, understand running away? Would I not, as a good Catholic, albeit a pain-in-the-ass little sister, not care about my brother? Did my parents not remember that I forever had my nose deep in a book following the likes of Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer, the Bobbsey Twins or Ramona and Beezus? Running away was a fascinating and familiar idea. Something we had all thought about doing. A secret, child-only-no-adults-allowed, adventure. Who wouldn’t want such a thing? And if my very own brother had accomplished this, well . . . I couldn’t know.

It wasn’t until we came together as a group, assembled by my father, all eleven of us, minus missing brother, gathered initially with prayers and rosaries, that the big secret was revealed. My brother had run away to California. (Why is this bad news I had wondered). He was safe, there had been a call, blah blah blah. All I heard was that he was gone, and I quickly saw this as a perfect opportunity to go snoop in his bedroom. The secret basement bedroom.

The apparent gravity of the situation went over my seven-year old head, and I thought they should have shared the exciting details. Did this escapade involve ropes out windows? Disguises? Captors? Never to be known. To this day. Nonetheless, back then I saw that his room, from which I had been seriously and permanently admonished, was now mine for the taking. And so I went.

Because there was so many of us, we easily filled the big house. Four large bedrooms upstairs was not enough, and we needed to use the spare room in the basement, next to the furnace room, as a bedroom. Who knows what that room’s original purpose was.  It was not a large room, and by virtue of being in the basement it was not a warm room. The cold basement was a plus on hot and muggy summer nights, that is when we loved the basement most, but in the winter, even though his room was located right next to the giant furnace, a monstrous looking thing, that room was chilly. My brother didn’t have much space at all, but it was his, and that was fascinating. None of us were afforded the luxury of “our own room.” Two or three of us were in every room in the house, but he got his own.

And because it was his own, and it was in the basement, I suppose when he asked if he could paint it, the answer was simply yes. I am not sure if my parents knew what they were permitting, because paint it he did. I never asked, and perhaps I still need to do so, but the bigger mystery is how did he get away with that room’s decor? And it lived as the colorful cave of hippy for many months as I remember it. But it was only that once that I remember actually going in.

Two walls were paneled in that woe-begotten 60’s style: sheets of thin plywood, papered to look like wooden planks. You could, in fact, pull away the glued-on look to reveal the pegboard type material underneath. My brother hung posters on those walls, an array shouting out the names of bands and songs and concerts I think. I can only suppose now, as those walls were far less interesting to me. The other two walls were beautiful.

They were foundation walls, rows and columns of cinder blocks that had been set into the hole dug decades earlier in order to make the house’s foundation and basement. We all had basements in our homes. Even the littlest of houses had basements. And basements usually included a laundry room, a bathroom, a furnace room, and then the other rooms that became sewing rooms or rec rooms or work rooms. Or, in our case, my brother’s bedroom. The secret room.

It was across those two cinder block walls where I found wonder unlike anything I’d seen in a bedroom before. There were strings of what appeared, at first, to a seven-year-old anyway, to be nonsense words. Words painted in the style fashionable at the time and made popular by artists like Peter Maxx. Large bubbled letters, three bricks high, leaning into each other so closely you could almost not tell one character from the next. I spelled the words out, but still they made no sense. I remember “LSD.” “Marijuana.”

The walls were lined with words I did not recognize and colors I loved. Deep bright rich dark fluorescent. Shades and tones I’d never seen used for walls, or anything else for that matter, except maybe posters we looked at in the head shop on Grand River and Mettetal. Posters we saw when we snuck in, “no kids allowed,” more secrets, more restrictions. But that’s another Detroit story. In my brother’s room, I could stare at those painted letters forever  . . . . if I could get away with it. The poet in me was duly inspired.

Those words marched like fat soldiers dressed in rage and happiness at once, all the way across the room in horizontal rows. I traced each letter slowly with my fingers trying to imagine their meaning, intrigued by their breadth, and wondering what their secret was. Wondering when I would be able to decorate my room however I wanted. Wondering why my brother had run away. Wondering if I would ever do that, run away. It was all so frightening and exciting, and so obviously an older-kid thing, words that older kids could use, things that older kids could do. Not a little girl like me.

The ceiling was equally mysterious and mesmerizing, and I was, I still am, curious as to how it was that my parents allowed this interior decoration project. My brother had pinned dozens upon dozens of orange “Union 76” Styrofoam balls from the ceiling with fishing line. Not in rows or in an order of any sort that I remember. Just all hanging above me, a ceiling in motion.

Where had he found so many of those balls, the ones that the gas station gave away as a marketing promotion, the ones you were supposed to put on the top of the car’s radio antenna? How long did it take him to pin each one up on the ceiling?  Rows and rows of them hung as light as angel hair, each some twelve inches from the ceiling, and if I blew a stream of air towards them, they moved in waves, undulating in unison like the shoreline at Lake Erie, orange like when it was contaminated and we couldn’t go swimming.  So many secrets and restrictions that plagued me as a child, but there I was, in the midst of one. Just me. And the secret.

I leaned back on my brother’s bed, watched the sea he had created, and I blew upwards, and laughed as the ceiling swayed.

Seventh

of nine children raised
on white bread, bologna and Campbell’s
chicken noodle soup
because who could expect
Mom to be a gourmet
with one in the crib,
one on the hip,
one on the way
and one begging at the front door,
“Please, mama, let me go,
let me follow
my big brothers to school.”

“No shirt no shoes no service”
was the rule,
and the table was full
at dinner each night.
Then the sixties came,
and the boys left quickly
after plates were cleared
to adorn themselves in beads,
buttons, bare feet,
and to comb their scant beards.
They made love, sang the Doors,
smoked hash, dropped acid;
they dropped out of school.

The rest of us, restless,
sat with our fingers crossed
and watched the colored screen
as draft numbers scrolled
in yellow and green, and we prayed
with Mom, Dad and rosaries
that the boys wouldn’t be called
to dress in army fatigues
and acquire mystery fame
as black-lettered names
engraved on a high school girl’s
silver POW bracelets.

One night’s tuna casserole
cooled stiff and dry,
as we witnessed
a hushed fight
begin to scream and fly
back and forth across
the stains of the long
white linen tablecloth.
The steaming bread baskets withered
while the glass milk pitcher
shuddered, waiting politely
for my older brothers
and my dad to “settle down now
we’re at the dinner table.”

But one brother cried
and buried his head
in his hands
while another ran
from the house wailing and high,
and dad chased the oldest
to the end of the red-
tiled porch with a ladle
raised high above his head
like a knife
threatening the boy’s life
or to rip the telephone
from the wall
of his basement bedroom
where he made secret calls.

That heavy evening closed,
and the emptied Pyrex soaked
in the scoured sink
all sudsy, and the babies
finally slept. So I left
to look at the scene
and found my brother’s beads
broken, some still on the string,
dripping off the concrete steps
where Dad had failed
to keep him.

I carried them down
to the basement bedroom
where “LSD” marched
psychedelically
across the foundation wall
in red letters as tall
as me, and orange Styrofoam balls
dangled from the ceiling
on clear plastic threads
like layers of sunrises
or sunsets.

His tamarind seeds were moist
and sticky in my fingers,
trembling and disobedient.
I set his necklace
on his dresser next
to the felt-lined wooden box
I had made him
at CYO camp that summer.

I felt brave,
rebellious
or part of something,
but frightened
because Dad might steal
the hippie beads back,
and I might never
see my brother again.

Trace

Word Jam

susan's redWord Jam

Words, words, wonderful words; never enough, words are birds
Rhythm, rhyme, keeping time; words are magic, before, behind
Into gold, out of blue; there’s not one thing that words can’t do
Tell me more, teach me chants; let me show you how words can dance
Every letter, each dotted “i”; makes my pencil ready to fly

Pretty please, sing all the sounds; give me rules, set the grounds
Oh, go ahead, it doesn’t matter; I don’t mind phonics, I don’t mind grammar
Enough, enough, never enough; words provide us with tons of stuff
To eat, to dream, to drink, to breathe; to bounce and scream, they give reprieve
Raucous symbols, sweet, sweet song; letters and numbers, so many, so strong
You never run out of word designs, you only run out   of     space     on      this       l i n e.

artwork by Susan B. Murray

Reprieve

Red! I Want that Job

alex-blajan-liops up close

I’m not much one for make-up. Never have been really except perhaps for those early days of adolescence. When the discovery of blue eyelids and long lashes had a timely empowering factor. I could change how I look, quite dramatically, or subtly. But I had that power. And I was something. It was that simple.

I preferred pinks. Pink eyes shadows. Pink lipsticks. Pink sweaters. Maybe I wanted to look like bubblegum? Maybe I did? And if I did I could, and that was my choice, dammit. Pop!

But it all grew silly? Took too much time? The ritual of it grew tiresome at any rate, although pink was still my choice when I went out dancing. ‘Clubbing’ as they call it now. Or is it called something else already? Jeez.

I threw away a heap of color palettes and small brushes recently. The whole lot of it smelled a bit funny. What on earth do they put in that stuff?

I still like an occasional color fest upon my lips. And I certainly enjoyed watching my little sisters and my daughters make the same discovery of self. I was somewhat alerted to how young we look when we first paint our faces, experiment with colors and effects. Or, how old?

Anyway, it’s always a treat to ponder the make up aisle at a drugstore.  I am not a marketer, or a wearer of make up, but how fun to be ‘the namer of lipsticks’ or ‘manager of nail polish titles’.

I want that job. So here goes.

Some of these are found, some are mine. Ideas? Share your favorite or made up names for lipsticks!

Kiss me Now.
Light Flames.
Thinking of You.
Almost Pink.
Broken Heart.

Stop By Later.
Maybe.
Yesterday’s Roses.
Forgive Me.
Perfect.
Deep.

Sunset Kiss.
Inside Out.
Sedona.
Prickly Pear.

One More Time.
No Apologies.
Scottish Plaid.
My Ember.

Rubies are Shy.
Friday Night.
Dancing Shoes.
Watching You.

*photo from unsplash.com

This Dress, and other musings on motherhood

kris-atomic-73939

This Dress

It doesn’t fit, Mom
this dress, your death
it’s like a net, in satin
wrapped around me, I’m trapped in
this collar, I flounder
I can’t get it right
it’s not my size
I wish I was naked
and you had your breath.

It’s a straight jacket
in black, I’m crazy
like burlap, scratching
my joints, my deep creases
can’t squeeze into this garment
I buckle right under
this neatly hemmed grief.

The stitching is permanent
too dark for me, too grave
I bedeck myself more lightly, Mom
and these restless sleeves bite me
the zipper’s angry, I can’t breathe
or dance.

Remember when
we would get all dressed up
in colors and bourbon and stories
and talk until the night
stripped off its darkness
by dawn we were naked
in our friendship
our connection, that cord.
Do I really have to wear this?

I am bereft in a dress
without pockets
there is no penny, no
falling star to catch, no
Kleenex or keys
just this puddle of silk
too heavy to hold this loss
I want to wash and wait
for it to come out
as something different
than this dress
your death.

I watch myself and I watch my girls as we hang out. At first, it seems so different than how I spent time with my own mom. That process of witnessing. She watched me grow into womanhood, I watched her grow into middle age. We met in the middle, relieved at last, as so much of the stumbling and stammering of earlier days in our time were behind us. A leveling occurred.

The girls and I travel and hang out together in a way I never did with my mom. We have seen the world together. Ireland and Argentina. Chile and Mexico. We have all attended university.  Together we united our splintered family. Just the three of us. We wrote and made art and watched each other on stage in a variety of theatrical endeavors. We ate an awful lot of scrambled eggs. Witnessing. Leveling.

My mom and I pretty much traveled as far as the Cunningham’s across the street where we often walked for our ritual “Coke and a smoke.”

A ‘Coke and a smoke’ meant time to talk, uninterrupted. To laugh. Whisper. Reveal. Release. Gossip. Laugh some more. Light up. Take a sip. We figured things out.

Somehow it was about the nose. Smoke in the nose. Bubbles in the nose. Being nosy. Inhale, exhale. Funny, she died of cancer right there. Not in Cunninghams. But right there, back behind her nose. That’s where the cancer landed. Little did we know as we poured our souls over a tall icy drink, and another long drag. We were dear friends until her death.

The chemo and radiation ripped her up pretty badly. The oncologist told my dad that it would; he had promised they could easily kill the tumors that had usurped most of her sinuses and nasal cavity, and they would rid her body of the nasopharynx cancer. That was the good news.

But my parents would hate him for it. Her life would be miserable he warned. And it was.

Along with the tumors they took her saliva glands, and her sinuses deteriorated like a Kleenex that’s been in your pocket too long. Frayed and full of holes. Not any good for snot, that’s for sure. She ended up dying of an infected skull.

After 14 years of infections – sinus, ear, throat, mouth – all stalwart in the face of antibiotics, the germs freely marched into that big old spherical bone we rely upon so desperately, or casually, to protect our brains. Osteomyelitis. A major army of germs descended. Led a successful coups. Antibiotics couldn’t even get past them. Didn’t have a chance. The failed pharmaceutical warriors retreated. Necrosis won.

All those wonderful talking sticks, thinking sticks. Cigs, they stuck it to her. I often wonder if I carry the propensity for that same cancer, or another. I smoked for some twenty years, which is a very sad statement thinking that my first cigarette was at nine years old.

It was behind the billboard at the Grandmont Hardware Store with Katie Coonen and a Virginia Slim we had stolen from her mother. We coughed and laughed. And continued. Amazing how a mere child can be so enticed by the burn and choke of a cigarette. I started buying packs of cigarettes by twelve. And I smoked until I knew I had conceived Riana.

Quitting had been a nonstop effort since my mid-teens because I didn’t really like smoking all that much, so I never quit quitting. And, I owe Riana big time. Or she owes me. We’ll have to talk about that. But it won’t be over a “Coke and a smoke.”

It will be over the racks at a Goodwill store or a game of cribbage. One of my favorite “Coke and smoke” moments with Bridget was actually over espresso and scrambled eggs in some little neighborhood cafe in Alphabet City in the lower east side of New York. Our moments happen when we hike up the trails on Mt. Elden behind our house in Flagstaff. Or window shopping. Over the phone.

My tie with my girls is neither soda nor nicotine, which makes my witnessing with my mother seem so different, it isn’t really. It’s all about the talk. The lens through which we watch each other evolve from one stage to the next: girlhood to womanhood to elderhood. From the politics of the world to the politics of our extensive families, we have lots of opinions and theories. We bring perspectives that are different and respected. We have our wonderful fiery moments. And sometimes we just settle into ogling over the cute cat cuddling in the corner, or watching as the soft snow falls in the triangle of yellow under streetlight. We talk. We level. We witness.

And yes, something will someday take us from each other’s lives. The frail Kleenex of our bond, the inexplicable and unpredictable tether to this earth, this life, will fray or rip or dissolve. But that will be then. This is now. Let’s go  . . .

Stages

I take back my house
missing and pushing the girls
out at once – go! give me space stay!
I need your sweet and smart and beautiful
there is no one on the roof no one in my car
no one sleeping in my bed or on my couch or spare
bedroom, no paintings and socks and dry cleaner stubs no
steamy mirror no Mac products spread about the couch counters
come back no go clean up no leave it sort through it no let’s keep it
my girls my life my walking sticks water witching there you are
again go be brilliant and brave and ambitious and teach me
everything you learn I so want to reap the benefits
of your brains beauty your wit talk to me never
stop visiting or talking talk me to sleep
on my final day tell me the best part
and the worst tell me you bake
better and write with zeal
love more deeply, think
more clearly and at last
remember to let me
smell a nutmeg cut
in half and garlic
sautéed in butter
lemon zest set
in sugar then
tell me your
song story
and that
you did
it damn
it you
did
oh.

Photo from Kris Atomic at Unsplash.com
Descend

“This Dress” first published in Puerto del Sol, 2004.

‘Ma,’ No Now, No Next

random impulse 2

Drums that Heal

No now, no next. Ma.

Who knew that on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Flagstaff Public Library, I would find the word I needed to capture my current state of affairs, and from Taiko drummers at that. Five performers pounding out their hearts, and pounding right into mine.

This group’s performance was part of the Library’s 30th anniversary of the the building on Aspen Street. The drummers’ physicality and power, a few of them just skinny kids, drew even the grumpiest of those in the building toward the  corner where this band had set up. The complaints of those who “came here to read, damnit” were calmed by this explosion of sound and rhythm. One song, in particular, answered a question I have been asking for months. It helped me find a calm that I have needed.

What is this?

What is this space, place, time I am in. No now. No next. But a content determination to go forward. Whatever that is or means.

The Taiko instructor David Ramos, pictured above, introduced a song that he had written explaining the importance of the pause in the song, or the ‘ma,’ as he referred to it.

Ma.

Ma is a Japanese term that is used for space, interim, or the place between, among many other meanings. Ma. Yes! That’s the term that’s been sitting on the tip of my tongue for months, maybe years. Maybe a lifetime, but definitely these days. I was not only moved, literally–my heart beat happily with their drums–but physically, sensually, and spiritually as David promised Taiko drumming can do to you. I was calmed. And I had a new word.

Ma.

You see, being a woman of words as I am–I like them a lot, words that is–I need them, actually. I am most confident, secure, I am my strongest, when I can put a name to what I am feeling, experiencing, understanding, etc. An addiction perhaps, and this one is as simultaneously fickle and constant as addictions are.  I often misuse words, or get them wrong (bring and take), pronounce them incorrectly (Vietnamese), insist on old rules (don’t end sentences in prepositions). Nonetheless, my hanging on to them, and them to me, is not unlike a junkie and her needle. I was drawn to the pen and paper as a mere child, and I have not let go, nor will I.  A healthy dependence, perhaps, but distinct.

Thus, not being able to put my finger to a term that describes my current state of affairs, well, I have been nonplussed.  What is this?

I am preparing to leave the house where I have lived, the house I have owned, the house that has cared for me as I have for it, for 17 years. And while I know my next residence will be south of Flagstaff, in the Sedona area, I do not yet know where. I can’t even call this state of affairs a transition, really, for a transition seems to have a now, and a next. I have neither.

I have disrupted my now so determinedly that I do not recognize the realty, or reality, when I enter that house, the one I own, as I do each weekend. I go in to pack, paint, consider, question, and pack some more.  Possession is an odd thing.  While I may “own” it, it no longer defines me. It is not my now.

And I am staying in a lovely home in Sedona, to which I return every Sunday night, a house that belongs to someone else, were I have carved out a small comforting corner. It holds me like cupped hands, and I am safe and pleased. It is plentiful. It is close to work. Yet it is not my next.

No now, no next. Ma.

I am in this space between things. Between times. Between decisions. An interval. And we, I, live quite dependent on next. We have all experienced that feeling of anti-climatic when on vacation, or Christmas morning. The preparation was so big and fun and busy. Preparing for next. But when next becomes now, sometimes it offers a dark sullenness.

I have forced myself, not for the first time, into a state of nextlessness.

And now that I have a word for it, I am actually a bit more comfortable with it. It is not sullen. Or dark. It is just . . .

Ma.

This ma, this time between beats, this space between words, this pause between inhale and exhale is refreshing.  And frightening. And, really, is no different than every second of every day.

We live so convinced we control time and space. We live, I live, thinking I know next. But, really, do we? Ever?

A test of patience and strategy.  Reflection and planning. No now. No next. Ma.

Ah.

Celebrating Smart Women

patrick-fore-26336for my girls, even Riana, who doesn’t like poetry.

The Cranberry Line

Follow the cranberry
line of dawn, go home
reach far, the moon is only
a lost star looking
for sunrise, for the saffron tide;
waves like Aurora’s children
on the verge of morning,
stretch and rub their eyes.

Be a poet. Be that girl
awake at the water’s edge
on the brim of next.
Be that light, renewed
from dark to day.
Be the patience
between each letter and space.
As quiet as dancing
along the cranberry line
or as loud
as tomorrow’s
crashing orange spray.