Moonrise: 2:30 a.m.

WalMart Entertainment Section for Seniors

I woke at 1:30 a.m. I often wake during the middle of the night if I’ve not had enough physical activity during the day, but more if I have something pending, when Mind wants to work out that event, that idea, that problem. I try not to wake up to worry, tho that happens occasionally.

In this instance, I woke because I am giving a talk soon on public speaking. It was Time to design the workshop, scribe my thoughts on how to handle this exchange with others. I anticipate my audience will be friends, acquaintances & strangers – some will know my style of storytelling; others will be unfamiliar to my ways.

I first learned I love to speak in front of others in the fire circle at Girl Scout Camp. My co-leader & I brought the troop to summer camp – the culminating reason of our cookie-selling success. The highlight of a weekend campout was always the Fire Ring, during which we sang songs, acted out skits, practiced fire safety & prepared s’mores. The minute the Song Leader opened the circle & the silly songs began, I was entranced. I remember turning to my co-leader & breathing, “I want to be that person!” So I set about learning every ditty I could, all their complicated motions & how to laugh at myself & with others. It was wonderful for me!

And now I continue to teach the topic of speaking in front of groups, leaving behind most of the silliness, but none of the humor.

After designing the workshop’s talking points, which will become the handout for the class, I walked outside to enjoy the total stillness.

The sun rises over our beloved Caballo Mountains with a slow flourish, illuminating every growing plant, every sentient rock, awakening the songs of birds as it spreads life & warmth to the desert. Although I’d never really thought about the moon in this way, of course it rises in the same way & amazingly, in the same place where the sun will later replace it.

I leaned my back on my car to watch…my first thought, “Oh, this’ll take too long to stand out here for this.” But I’d no sooner finished thinking this than the horn of the half-moon glowed above the familiar mountain crest. The rest followed within a minute – what I thought would take too long was accomplished in three long breaths. I felt dizzy; the earth was turning I knew, but this fast? I felt it a good thing I had the car to support me. I felt the night air, cool but welcoming, through thin silk pajamas. I know sunlight on my skin (I still love to be recipient to its rays, to tan with oils as I sit, eyes closed, feeling Vitamin D coursing into me. I am a sun-worshipper to no small degree, almost welcoming the wrinkles & the dryness accompanying this habit.)

The moon knew its path, had obviously climbed this particular mountain many times before. I could feel the sleepy wakefulness shared among all the life out there as it made a way to that starring position overhead. Even knowing all I know about the moon from more esoteric fascinations, there is nothing like being “out in it” to appreciate how an entire planet can so lightly make itself known so swiftly, silently, thoroughly.

The workshop will be a success. I’ve no worries on that score. Later in the morning I will prepare a handout from my notes poured out, accompanied by honeyed coffee. I wrote these notes quickly & carefully – I’m famous for profound & totally unreadable midnight thoughts – so I erred on the side of penmanship.

When I give my talk, the moon will rise again, outside & behind my eyes. I will watch faces light in understanding, smile back at the learning, enjoy the idea that one day they will be in front of a group delivering their knowledge to waiting ears.

So do the macro & microcosms entwine & blend. So does a little dream of one day holding many minds in mine develop & manifest. I no longer fear holding the attention of many who may be looking for flaws in me – I surely have plenty to share among them. But tho grounded from silliness to strategic information, that thread of humor runs through it all, lightening  & lighting both.

I am calling the talk “Making Yourself Comfortable.” The thoughts will continue to arise; may they be as smooth & homey & as mystical as the moon finding a place to shine the sky.

And, if the audience wants a follow-up to this introduction, I still know all the moves to “The Donut Song”

Well, I walked around the corner & I walked around the block, And I walked right into a donut shop, And I picked up a donut fresh from the grease, And I handed the lady a five-cent piece.Well, she looked at the nickel & she looked at me, And she said “This isn’t gonna work, you see, There’s a hole in the nickel & it goes right through. So I said, “there’s a hole in the donut, too!” Thanks for the donut, so long! (Sing to tune of “Turkey In the Straw)

Happy Easter, World

To my sister, Teri. I love you, dear.

Come, sit awhile in my stony yard, remember with me. Here, in New Mexico, where grass is a rare commodity, one dares not venture outdoors barefoot. But I don’t worry about my feet when my face craves the sunshine. I look up & close my eyes to its caress. I feel my mouth curving into a smile, even as my heart expands under its rays.

I have read in some blogs that the sun is actually an entity named “Ed.” Well, Ed & I have had a lifelong affair. I treasure sunshine like I treasure love. I crave it in the same way, with a similar longing & a powerful responsive opening of every cell to take it in. The sunshine here is like oranges, clearing the palate, a breath of gold, a blessing of warmth in which to sit &, in simplicity, To Be.

When I was little, when church was the biggest commitment of this day, I woke to an Easter basket of plastic-color straw & chocolate. Ah! Chocolate for breakfast! In a household where treats were always fruit, chocolate for breakfast was an unheard-of peak experience.

We dressed in our best for Easter… white gloves, hats, black patent leather shoes. We were given a dollar for the collection plate (the usual Sunday contribution being 50 cents, at least 25 of which went for a sugar cookie at the bakery en route.) I was in choir, we sang in clear-child voices, singing the glory of God, powered by Hershey’s Kisses.

(I lived in Hershey, PA at one time, The 6 a.m. exercise class smelled of hot chocolate, the afternoons of Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars, the nights of syrup. But that was later, far beyond childhood by the sea.)

I still believe in resurrection after years of insurrection, misdirection & sporadic, sometimes unsteady, affection…

I still believe!

We walked to church, unless it was one of those lingering winters when there was still bits of snow on the ground, I recall my first pair of heels – little bump-buds far unlike the shoes I’d wear later in life. And if the shoes were new & there was snow, I had to fight to wear them (Mom throwing up her arms over her head, (Pazienza!), but New Shoes! even with bobby-sox holding them on – looking a bit patched together, all dressed-up for the Lord. I was shivering, but set for Spring underneath the heavy coat, the ear-flapped hat. The church would be warm in the rafters of the choir box – we were songbirds coaxing in a season of change.

Years moved along, crisp & uncompromising. When I was a child, my Mom prepared huge dinners that started with salad (ensalada), that coursed through soup, buttered Italian bread, pasta & turkey. Sometimes ham appeared on the table, of which I was less fond than a turkey drumstick. Sometimes relatives drove the long distance from up near Philadelphia to the seashore. Relatives were a kind of blessing – they meant crisp dollar bills to buy ice cream with or hoard in tiniest slot of the rolltop desk. They also meant pinched cheeks (Que Bella!) hugs from folks with hearty garlicked breath or smelling of cigarettes, in scratchy woolens & practical footwear. They meant much chattering in Italian, waving of arms & hands in conversation which could take out water glasses on the table or Easter decorations walking to it. They were filled with chesty laughter, family reunion, exclamations, questions, (How old are you now? What grade are you in? Look at how much you’ve grown – this a nuanced, side-eyed comment since I never made it into quite fitting the clothes I was wearing, always pushing my glasses back on my nose with a finger I’ve learned not to use in traffic.)

My Mom had us living at the seashore – a commonplace to us – but a rare & wonderful ride for the others. Ah! Salt Air! Names morphed into exotic pronunciations (Carol drew into Carrrro-lena) as the jokes & comments around the table flowed from language to language.

The adults would make knowing remarks, heads nodding, all gossip & glamor. At some point the oft-repeated “Go out & play!” would herald the talk’s real beginning into the state of the world, the old neighbors, who had died & who still lived – names I heard only on holidays, only in the context of the visits; people I would never meet or know. I would hear the conversations on my way out the door, the voices lowering only to rise again in loud laughter. A jug of wine would be on the table when I got back from my bike ride or climbing the tree in Mrs. Cannon’s yard, or the hideout behind the yew bush clutching a handful of candy to be devoured in sticky bliss.

However, I have never, ever, liked jellybeans, so all mine were roughly pawed out of my basket by my brother, as I watched ferociously to assure he took none of the hollow-core bunnies. And those marshmallow chicks were challenging to nibble all the sugar off of without devouring any of their white fluff.

My hair, done in sausage curls for face-time with God, would straggle & eventually be pulled (with much force) into braids that made my eyes Chinese. Still, I would come home sandy, or with twigs & greenery tangled into it, the rubber bands of control loosening or lost…for all of my good-girl ways, I was a fierce, feral child who favored trotting over walking, who wore a clothesline belt tied tightly around my narrow waist.

I would never change my childhood, although it was fraught with fear & what is now called stress (Catholic School & nuns), My part-time mother – the ocean – never changed, never gave up on me, smiling her waves every time she touched my toes. My bike never wobbled once I was up to speed, pedaling madly. I sailed the bumps of the boardwalk like a mobile Queen, thin legs churning, braids streaming behind. I explored for shells, I stole candybars from the corner store, I saved pennies, cherished new sneakers. devoured books about horses (The Black Stallion!), wrote poems & stories generously plagiarized from these.

I grew up in the sun: I so love it still. I climbed dunes, scratched from sawgrass, sported mosquito bites all over, danced on beaches, suffered unholy disciplines from “holy” women…

I am the me I am because of it all. I did pretty okay, yeh?

So I thank the universe for Ed, for sand, for the kind of bubbling energy stoked by a sugared childhood. I thank my Mother & my family, I thank my distant, divorced-with-a-new-family Dad, for pinching Aunts, for tobacco’d Uncles with Aqua-Velva cheeks, waving crisp dollars – “Here, honey, go buy some ice cream!” I thank my comfort of home-made pasta, for the sweat my mother wiped from her hot-kitchen brows with the dishtowel plugged into her apron.

I am alive: I am Spring: I am holy. I am still a Carol, singing the glory of God!

Only One Friend Away

My friend went into Silence at a retreat recently. I did, too, in a way. Somewhat in honor of her spiritual commitment; somewhat in just that she is someone with whom I correspond every day & for two days, there was no word. It was okay. I guess I am just being conscious now, perhaps because of the silence.

I have no close-up relations. I used the last of my minutes talking with my daughter of everyday lives, hers & mine. “How are you, Mom?” she asked. I’d just awakened from a nap, the prescience of a phone about to ring bringing me to wakefulness. “I’m a little depressed right now,” I replied. “What’s up?” “Oh, just an old sadness returning, an emptiness in an unexpected place; but I’ll get over it.” And we talked.

My lover said he would meet me in a week. A week doesn’t seem so long & faraway, does it? But as they say, time is relative, devious, grinding away at the clock in a relentless circle. I am still more than 24 hours from seeing him. There isn’t much of me left.

I have read six books, eaten many meals, fulfilled my volunteer obligations, answered emails, acted “normal,” hosted Open Mic with my stand-up comedy routine – jokes about churches this time. I did a little job in Hillsboro, picking up chinaberries from sidewalk cracks…seated on a yellow plastic bucket that sagged ever so gently, depositing me flat on my back & laughing.

I washed into & pulled myself out of a tidal cold, drinking more water than I ever have before. I wrote off a disappointing friend & wondered what to do with the card when it was returned to me as a wrong address. I wonder if that means we are still friends. She, too, let me down in a show of non-support, collapsing under my expectations, depositing me flat, but unsmiling.

I feel as though I am at the center of a map compass, all around me dials spin, decisions are made, lives are lived. I offer ideas to others seeking input & they sink below the radar quickly – all my questions unanswered, all my ways to set things straight set aside for no apparent reason. I am left once more with silence. Why did they ask me to help?

My body longs for a cigarette, it’s been weeks now since I last smoked & in my mind & heart I’ve quit… But I have said often that addiction is a comforting habit, familiar & ritualistic, a place where it isn’t just so alone anymore.

I buy hats made of feathers & wrap these around my plant holders. I walk the flea market, finding a perfectly-fitting blue ring with daisies in a wreath, a frowning half-moon pendant. Acquisitions like this are cheaper all around than smokes. But no one sees them & the gap they fill yawns once more after swallowing them whole.

I understand the deep feeling that causes one to walk off into the desert, to lie down until snakes slip close for body heat. I understand the wakeful wind pushing me into foolish choices, like a moonstruck cat. I sit, stolid, like a pole in a pier, holding up wood & fishermen while an ocean salts my feet.

Sometimes, there is only one thing to do: that is to endure.

I endure.

Black & White

I arrived at the Grill for lunch with a just-returned friend – two girls about to dish on food & lovers. I made a u-turn for a great parking place, trying to avoid the black dog & her white-spotted friend, obviously just escaped from their yard. The pair lolloped up the street, stopping to sniff the dirt-rain-laden air. I honked my little clown-horn to get their attention. I emerged from the car calling to Blackie, thinking to get a collar address. White ran on, into the town’s main drag, as Black paused & turned towards my call. Relieved, I reached out a hand & then heard the loud, solid crunch. White never got across Date Street.

My hand rose to my mouth, trying to hold back my screams, “No!” echoing across the pausing traffic. Cars scattered, pulled over. A girl ran up the near side – I thought her a jogger until I saw her little red car pulled over a block away. I staggered to the street, still bent over in horrified grief, still screaming, still holding the raw shock & horror back, as if one hand over my face could overcome the suddenness of a life ending. I stopped to hold onto a railing. People gathered, leaned over the dog, spoke together only a moment as the girl & a man picked up the sagging body & hurried to the red car. I walked into the street with hands up, holding the traffic for the moment they needed to cross, to carry White past me. I hollered “Did  you get an address from the collar?” A man yelled back “Yes.” Justin pulled up in the Animal Control van right in front of me, blocking my view. The black & white police car stopped across the street, conferred with Justin & left.

My friend emerged from the restaurant, “Carol! What happened?!” I stood a little straighter, turned to her, “A dog,” I said. She covered her face said, “No, I can’t,” as she walked to me, searching my eyes.

We touched arms & she (a dog owner herself) walked back into the restaurant head down. I thought, “Lunch? Now?” And yet…

We ordered wonton soup & salad, a rice n chicken bowl. We portioned out the food. We talked about her lover leaving & mine arriving, about the echoes & throughways of life & quick, merciful death. The death of her relationship, the life about to arrive with this spring rain.

I didn’t feel the angels so close until I sat to write this. But their wings hold me in hover. Whispers surround me. I am calm, eyes liquid. I was there to Witness only. I was there to scream so loudly that Black spun on her tail & winged home, ears flying. From the window, over our soup, I saw Justin turn up 8th, heading toward the house where death had flown over, following the dogs. Where two of my gentle friends had started walking immediately upon finding the address on the collar, to offer awful news & dear comfort in person.

There is a first nations tradition that holds when an animal is taken from life, his spirit continues on while the body remains. I understood that White was still headed for that inviting, open street across Date, that he had been caught up by angels running suddenly alongside, calling his name in joy & familiarity; that the rain for him had stopped & a bridge opened before him, so he ran faster, straight up & over into the loving Light awaiting.

After Love


As good as love

When nothing else matters

My legs still trembling

Bringing a lover to being a King

Before departures

Sweetly

Feeling deeply

All that love has to say

Said

I am smiling, through & through

Touched inside out

Where nothing else matters.

——

The outside world

Taken in

Taken apart

The house echoing cold

The only warmth in the bed

Where we made love.

While only in the totality of gift

May I receive.

——

Your center matching mine

The doors locked

Even as you unlocked me

A hundred days of love

A lifetime lived

Before & after

Your kiss.

—–

Tonight my dreams

Will be you

Being here with me

The others see me as they will

Sum me up, total me & dismiss

It all to mist

Yet if I am a thousand times

Shattered by love

Regathering,

Resting in the knowledge

No one gets out alive.

And all that matters is how you love

When love comes to hand a heart,

Shaken out like a worn rug

Clean & free of dusty relationships,

Singing one clear note

So that I take you by your ears

Offering my mouth

My lips

All I am

To your greedy, grasping hands

So even the world stops to listen.

——

I watch you gather yourself

As I still am dancing to the hum of your voice

And lift into how you see me

A perception of a moment

The hope of a lifetime.

Liquid at its center.

——

He leaves & I lock the seventh lock

With all of me wide open.

——

From faithlessness restored to love

Resurrected & empowered, peerless & deadly

With I glance, I am pierced

I glide into your energy field

Comfortable as fire burning

The cold day ended

In your warm arms

Faithless as the ocean returning ashore,

You are the beach of my white salt

I chuckle along you

A scamper of lovelife

Holy & heartful

Your hands set me free to my life

With arms wide open, all enchanted

Your words sunlight over shoals

Teeming with life, I kiss

Tasting mint & ginger,

Peppermint & ash,

Lemon & love.

I restore you to who you really are

Basking in the mirror you provide.

——

The words won’t wait

They capture, they caption

They classify what is become

My air to breathe

All songs unsung form into

What I hear on listening.

Never too late to love

The night folds me into its arms

A final unfurling

This kingdom unknown

So many years

Unknown

May we begin again?

For I may be renewed

In the reparation of your touch.

Tell me it’s over

I still love you the same.

——

Only words remain.

Safe home, my love

Satiated, sane once more

Choices packed into a suitcase

Truth as well

Replete with lavender & myrrh.

You hear my heartbeat every mile

You separate us with, heading to your forever,

While I will be immortal

After making you feel so.

Baby Me

Verily I say to you, if ye may not be turned and become as the children, ye may not enter into the reign of the heavens’ Matthew 18:3

I am brought to this thought of a light gray morning. As the photos used to be: light gray. I have been wandering around in my heart, picking up the shards, visible in the receding tides of time, This one is a relationship I had with another, that one a relationship I had with myself. All are fragments blown apart by emotions too powerful to maintain solidity.

Now I have a different take on emotions – now I can keep them at a bit of distance like that old cartoon of holding off the fighter, one hand on her forehead, other hand lifted to cover a yawn. It’s much more comfortable here than it was being that warrior, sweating, bleeding, grunting with effort. I have less of my heart to protect. It is more visible, viable, vibrant, vagrant… That other heart? The one I kept cutting myself on the sharp edges of? Yeh, it’s pieced out on the desert floor by size & color, by name & emotion. I finger these one by one. I remember.

When I was a child, I was still of more than one mind. There was the me responding to the nuns in school, the me wearing the face I only showed to my Mother, the me riding headlong, free, grinning, straight into the ocean breeze, bumping along the boardwalk on my bicycle “Blue Boy.”

That me features most in aspect of who I am today, I’m happy to say!

There was the me in my mirrors, the face framed in braids, the me reflected back from the pages of whatever book I was reading; whatever copybook I was writing in. Perhaps these are not so different from the me reflected in today’s computer screen.

Of course the adults to whom Matthew delivered his message were confounded, looking at one another, judging him crazy for these verbal impossibilities delivered in the name of a Savior already dim in experiential memory (unless you met Him up close & personal.) I’ll bet you the children understood only too well what Matthew meant. Childhood is a “oh me! oh my!” special place where many experiences are new & shiny, bearing no fingerprints save those the child herself puts upon them.

I think she woke up with me this morning. Last night I went to bed, stiff as a piece of wood, my low back sending up a dirge of refusal to bend; I walked up the stairs from one heating pad to another, wondering if I’d be functional in the a.m. But there is this of the miraculous about me: I wake whole every morning. Wherever I travel in the night in my lightbody, my physical body is back on patrol upon waking.

I love the experiences which stay totally new. I love when a layer of my life-built cocoon is stripped away by an experience & I am returned to another me…when I’ve been able to sift through those edged remnants to find one shard fitting into another perfectly. It is a restoration of me I never expect – the eternal surprise of discovery which reduces me to that wide-eyed innocence I once so readily (& so easily) manifested.

From this place, I can grow again & in the manner in which I wish to do so. I need not adopt the comfortable patterns of well-traveled reactions. I can see once again that I am at the beginning of an event. I choose to participate wholly, in a way I’ve never done before, or at least not in my recent history.

Which leads me to ask aloud; “Is history ever recent?”

But here I am, born again of a gray morning, sitting between mountain ranges unacquainted with oceans for uncounted years. Once this desert was the ocean floor. Once I lived beside the sea & begged the ocean to be my mother, Now I peer out the window & beg the mountain to be my father.

Who can love this ragged, paunchy, punchy me? Who would ever be tender with this old bird, treating her like the perpatetic little chick she once was, dashing from seed to seed, colliding with life yellow as a yolk? I may have found someone who regards me so. My sense of wonder is renewed & fulfilled. It matters little if anything will come to fruition from the relationship. It isn’t yet history. In this now, I can be safe as the child protected only by her own senses, living in the most present of moments, dreaming, dreaming. Nothing matters but the dream; the rest will care for itself upon emerging.

Right now is that edge to surf & I can’t pull my attention away,

I am returning to blessing by virtue of being blessed by another; returning to wholeness just as I am. I take one last look at the pieces all about; I understand deeply that this very dream may also join them at some time.

Right now, I am forgiven of being an adult in the childhood of being in love. Right now I can be in my Kingdom of Heaven; surrendered to a King.

My Life Is A Flashmob Event


The crow flew overhead as I ran over her shadow.

Not a word passed between the old couple at lunch

They ate, efficiently & neatly

Not meeting eyes, not exclaiming tastes

She murmured nothing

As he zipped his jacket,

Heading outside for a smoke.

I feel you remembering me

The square plate fitted among the rounds

The fried dumpling

Dropped in the asparagus at the China King buffet

We are no more each other, though we are.

I eat left-handed as I write

(A skill I learned from a broken elbow)

The words won’t wait, the impressions pour over me

Like water overspilling glasses

Piled-high food

The take-out guy tucks green beans into foam-lip corners

I’ve driven a hundred miles to eat here

But in New Mexico, this is not far…

And I will eat no more today

Replete with Crab Rangoon

In the light of a desert day.

No dragons hang from the walls here

Tho I dreamed of dragons ‘pon waking

A carved-wood, sinuous length I put on the roof of my car

Meeting the eyes of others driving towards me.

I finger your memory

Like a piece of fine china

Remembered in a thrift shop

Transported for an only moment

Into the life when/after I loved you.

So, where do you go, when you leave me?

When your lips no longer touch mine, your tongue searching, tasting?

Your hands reaching to glide secret spaces.

When all it takes is a little attention to stoke

The fires I flame into

You disappear so well

I cannot find you

And choose myself to love

For only I am real.