Human Kindness Undoes Old Woman

A man was tender with me today. He asked how I was with a tiny tilt to his head & intelligent eyes. I barked my usual, “Super!” & echoed the question.

I barely know how to react to original kindness, authentic inquiry. My heart has set up ramparts of glass & settled in behind, keeping watch.

That moment unlocked a faraway memory – holding hands. Which led to memories of sitting closely together, resting in each other. The love I have now is a pac-man thing…its jaws are always working, devouring any scrap of regard. These memories are in a tidal lock to my soul – they face one way, their dark side never revealed.

I’ve become one of the guys for the most part, taking my turn at the end of the line after the alpha males.

When I say something, everyone wants to resolve it for me. “Have you tried…?” is a favorite, or “You know what works for me is …”Sometimes I just want to say something & rest in another’s reply. I don’t want to be sent to the store or the website or the next room for panacea. How about you listen & nod instead? It’s not like I haven’t already researched what they are telling me as the ideas are seldom new. Perhaps simple communication is all that’s on the table, or across it.

To be undone by simple regard makes me sad. There were those who fought for me, riding white horses into battle or placing a shield firmly between me & trouble. i would pull a handkerchief from my lacy sleeve & wave gratefully. Then the world changed; maybe I should say my world changed. I had to be ready at all times to thrust the masculine of me up front, take it on the chin, get another job, do it ALL which rapidly became metronomic & a condition to be borne rather than a defensive maneuver.

I make only the smallest repairs; my skills with a tool kit amount to finding a place to hide it until I need to look for a connector. My finest hours have come with the Duct Tape Final Solution. I can’t drive a straight nail, hell, I can barely manage a pushpin.

I wrote a poem called “At My Age” about falling in love. It’s buried deeply in the files. That says it all.

I can peer over the walls, but won’t fit across the drawbridge.

I need, perhaps, to tuck my heart into a Faraday Cage, forget unexpected kindness, rub my eyes & see what appears when I stop.

How is it fashioned? Did I give up on dreaming or did dreams give up on me?

Ferals II

I was in the yard early, eyeing the one-eyed cat I call Mike, while watching for black Tzusu of the green eyes who winds around my legs. She’s in a hurry for food, but slows me as I mince around her small, muscular body. She doesn’t like Mike, his sweet face partly caved on one side…she hisses & holds her place. She eats no food, leaping the concrete fence to stalk away. Mike settles in to chow.

I hear a small noise, looking to the alley – is my neighbor out already? But no, he is not dumping trash, but a Hispanic couple roots for cans, tying & untying stinking bags. Dressed in ragged coats, in ill-made shoes, pulling a tiny cart lined in oily black plastic. They are hidden in their own world. Only the cart stands sentinel, hoping cargo.

I fill the bird feeder tubes, I think hard about all my living of life for I have no insight into theirs. They are of an age where grandchildren should be bouncing at feet resting on a hassock. They should be smiling, holding bowls of cherries, laughing about how they used to contest the length of spitting pits.

I come in the house to my tall desk, pulling out a wallet, removing two fives. I fold them & make my way to where they are, still in my bathrobe & slapping flipflops. I hold the money out to the man who takes it with no smile, but a murmured thank you, before bending back over the trash to help his wife.

I notice in deep sorrow he has one working eye.

Ramparts

LEASHES

Bringing self to heel

binding the soul to flesh it fled many years ago,

I cling to the surface

where water tension only bears so much

before I sink, one, two, three

my hand breaks free, grasping air

it cannot hold.

I release this gasping grasp

to wave at the sky I so loved instead.

I sink, not so much as stone,

but as an inchoate wish

made equal of sun & stars.

How did I come so far from shore?

I, who dwelt in deserts

seduced by moisture clean of sand.

I clung so long to life that life itself forgot me.

The letter never mailed

Connections void of course.

I will not surrender here to force, to gravity

grown gravid with my weight.

I will kick hard & hold my tongue

till breath is no more an option than flight

but still I will not yield!

Instead I’ll yearn for waves to freshen

for beaches to crawl out upon

clutching only the heart I dove in for.

NO STAMPS

I left the love letter unsent

Writing instead to the editor

on trivial, thoughtless things

unworried about a return address.

I wrote love’s sealed secrets

for none to see, for all to share…

I’m out of stamps, regardless

Paper on a desk

not even made into a list:

pickles, catfood, tea

All blank

A cause with not a reason

A room of stars alone with no doors.

I am concupiscent with endings

this woman of long beginnings

of arrogant centers

of faded memoir.

In the somewhere of time is the sometime of where

I am a Beloved, an Abba

with a family name I cannot pronounce.

GOD

He never signed the Permission Slip

but watched me walk to the edge of heaven

To dive headlong into its elusive counterpart

it’s illusive counterpoint.

I did not know I could not fly in return!

Nor the gate would close behind me with a click

Breaking my heart.

Why didn’t I await the paperwork?

Stretching the red tape of reincarnation

unable to set my mind:

A giraffe or a girl?

I took my chances, ignoring every sign

about standing near the edge

until, seduced into falling,

here I am, eyeing mountains

Thinking climbing up is climbing back.

Blear-eyed & trembling,

Aged of thirst & heartbreak,

Take me to home I so burned to leave –

Screaming all the way down.

IF LIFE MIRRORS DIVINITY

I’ll take the one with the biggest crack

the silvering resinous & stained,

no true reflection to be had

Tho I polish it with my soul.

Working the salt mines of desire

Ten inches a year’s yield

I watch these flicker away

Leaves fed to fire

I fight the smoke

I bring the rain

I search for stones to pound it through

And when it breaks – as mirrors always do –

I heave up over the edges

Bleeding out the names of God.

STIFF WITH SORROW

The words seep out, blue on white

mounting speed, outstripping sad

I scratch ink across the page

I need answers to the questions no one asks!

I left a rock atop my wings

and walked into the sea.

MOVE ALONG, SIRRAH!

I am no longer “pretty”

but old & bold, I have learned patience.

It’s not final, nor the answer

when life comes rooting in my dumpster

where I’m looking for my heart…a hand to hold.

I poured out love in roaring measures,

I pressed out pain & rubbed out ruin

Offering strangers that which calls for coin

but buys no stock in who I have become.

No matter. Were the choice to round my way again,

I would choose the carousel with all-white horses

Carpisoned in gold…not gathering the reins

Nor stroking flame-red nostrils.

I’d lay down my face on a fiberglass mane

To ride the stars.