Operating instructions

quilt 3

The moment came in the dying, then in being seated with the dead. Before you ever found your footing, the quilt was laid across your shoulders. The heft of it kept you grounded, so much so that in the first days you seldom moved, except to bed, except to chair, except to bed, except to stand on the back step and wonder how your head could still be attached.

In time, you won’t remember what it feels like to walk without it.

Reprieves come. A perfect breeze, a sunrise, a conversation, a real letter in the real mail, a joke told impeccably, the ability to laugh and feel it,  and most of all, in a period of stillness when your mind is able, finally able, to be quiet. Reprieves come, and you are almost but not quite Old You, walking above feathers. The quilt will slip back on, naturally so, and you will accept this and resume walking because it’s what you do. You keep walking.

The holidays, days and nights where the world tilts and everyone is thrown off-balance, fall into your pockets like rocks. Those who have not been introduced to Grief (or who stay sufficiently medicated against it) adjust to the tilt and keep walking while your cape of patchwork lead grows longer, wider, and heavier. People step all over it. You do, too. You stumble, a lot. Frustration! You are tense, afraid of hitting the ground. Your body aches from holding on, holding back. You’re tired, easily overwhelmed, irritated. You feel shut out. You feel abandoned. You feel incendiary. You and your cape, you don’t fit in anywhere easily anymore.

Grief slams you up against mortality, yours and everyone else’s. Time moves, constantly, quickly, around you and past you, a blur, motion and sand, around all of whom and all of what you love while the patchwork cape tethers you to now, to life in this place.

Eventually, you will see the day coming when you will untie it from your neck, let it fall, gather it up, and pack it away.

Precious treasure.

While I hold you
While I carry you
I have you still
When I release you
When I let go
When I let loose
What will remain?

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north shore sun

making up with the sun
watching it wiggle past the rocks
and plorp like an egg yolk
above the horizon

wishing the camera battery wasn’t dead
remembering when seeing was enough
and experiencing the thing was the thing

it rises now its fantastic robes
trailing in the water shimmering
shaming Venus changing
turning the blues into deeper tones

 turn face it smile

in two days
the same sun will find me
and burn and burn and burn

 

20140813_121609-1

 

 

 

north shore sun/8-13-2014

 

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Winfrey Point

tables

Love
Takes out the garbage three nights in a row
And doesn’t boast about it.

(Well. Maybe a little.)

Love
Sits quietly in the passenger seat
And does not complain when the car veers onto the shoulder
Again.
Again?
Really, again?

Love
Does not let you leave the house
With a stain on your shirt or broccoli teeth or rogue chin hairs.

Love
Lets you pick the movie
Even though the last one you drug her to? Torture.

Love
Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
Except for that time, and that time –
And that one time,
When you were unlovable?

No, even then.

Blessed words and ways,
People and things, clocks and calendars and the best damn dog you ever had –
These things are finite.
Voices are stilled. Hearts cease.
Even memories fade.
And Love –

No. Even then.

Love. Even then.
Love.
Love.
Love.

.
.
.
I wrote this poem and performed it for friends’ wedding in the summer of 2014.  I can’t dedicate it to them publicly because they are a same-sex couple for whom being “out” is not an option.

The wedding was held at Winfrey Point, the same venue where Mark and I were married in 1992. Another beautiful evening on White Rock Lake.
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lovely/warm mug meditations

man with owls blue
i long to be the kind
to get in the car on a sundee
pajamas robe no makeup pillowface
laughing all the way there
to surprise you sitting
on your porch
good coffee open hands
silence and bird watching

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busted up/on the death of Tracy Hicks

man in the moonbusted up
pieces, shards, motes, atoms
bursts of drops of
no no no no no no no
and then laughing realizing how I’m making coffee
the way he taught me
vanilla plenty of it in the grounds
makes the kitchen smell good
and cheap coffee taste
rich lovely sensual fancy
like it oughta
and thinking then of the vow he took
that no matter how he had to live
he would live in through around by
art
and feeling pressed now by his words his presence
LIFE IS NOW GIRL
not tomorrow not a year away
NO NO NO NO NO
now
and so now I guess I have to go out today
eat stinky cheese and
kiss his girls and keep them close
and knock back a GOOD scotch a GOOD wine
and then I’m thinking years ago
just us two headed to Houston
him stopping at a stretch of nowhere
to take a leak and coming back with
a handful of mushrooms he’d picked
musing to himself
“Do I want to trip? I can’t decide…”
and me frantic voting UM NO NOT
because while he was “almost sure”
they weren’t toxic
even if they didn’t kill him
we were in his van loaded with his art
and only he knew Houston
and us chuckling later and forever afterward
oh my god that was
JUST SO
HIM
and now thinking how he recognized me as few do
drew me out pissed me off challenged me to THINK
friend soul friend touchstone bellwether
burr under my saddle
even now he is at my back here
breathing through his nose looking under his glasses
reading this and wondering when if ever I will
come to the point
come to my senses
LIVE
LIVE THIS DAY
instructing me to ask for look for a way
to breathe life back into life
and thinking how he like few others
saw me dying
and urged me to come away
ordered me to come away
to hide in the woods there
protected until I recovered
again and again
come to the woods come
where we can love you back into life
come where you can
GET REAL GIRL
where you can risk
touch what-all is killing you
and then LET IT GO
and how I never went
stupidly never went
and how at his death today
I am not sleepwalking
mind lit up jigging around dancing on pins
and wondering how to tell my sons his godsons
and how to spend every bit of this day
how to move forward
and now thinking how he could be set satisfied
in blastfurnace heat or literal icy nights
in his leaky roofed shithole magic space
with a human heart no really a real one in a jar on the shelf
knowing his own was up there too waiting
to tip and fall and break
and converse about nothing small
and then get up and make us a whole meal
out of maybe a potato and some garlic
and it would taste like holy heaven on a plate
and now I am writing in circles
not wanting to end this elegy
desperately needing to make this day
please him and honor the glory of
hot water moving through coffee and vanilla

 

 
busted up/on the death of Tracy Hicks/10-25-2014

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This love (for Andrews Cope & Danielle Pickard)

Love

Whole mountains fall, whole
Prairies buckle and bend and
Push skyward

Love

Nothing    nothing
Stays the same
Not even

Love

Those first Sneaky Pete glances
I like her does she like me does he like me I hope
Oh holy cow you’re holding my hand oh wow I think I found

LOVE

All the swaying swooning please let this kiss last forever

LOVE

All the Sunday morning pillow face bad breath

Love

All the no no no I took out the garbage last night, all that

Love

It’s all here, here in this
Oh my god we’re really gonna do this this
Heart leaping broom jumping glass smashing dancing wild

LOVE

That led you right here to oh wow, oh holy cow
We’re holding hands
This
Love has changed you, saved you
pressed you like flowers in a book

And we
are with you here, blessed, because this
one, multitudinous, tiny, enormous, infinite little seed,
this jewel, this point of light, this grain of

LOVE

That you unearthed in each other
changed us
your family, your friends, your community

This
Light
This
Magic
This
This   is    everything  everything
This

Love

Contains all that is, was, all that ever will be
This

Love

Was here before you
This

Love

Goes beyond you
This

Love

Has become
This

Love

Is becoming
This

Love

Is changing
The world

LOVE

sidecar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gripped

When you feel like it was all   some   dream
When you feel untethered         to anything
When you feel uncertain of what was
When you feel lonely and endangered
When you feel nothing

When you find a foothold

Hold there
Jam yourself into the crack
Press in hold hard

Try to find a prayer

Hold there

Hold
Hold
.

Found today, in a book, on a shelf, in a closet. We were on our honeymoon.

Found today, in a book, on a shelf, in a closet. Mark’s showing off his wedding ring. We were on our honeymoon.

 

 

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