Let me

Let me be the wine
you open and leave to breathe.
Let me be the weight
of gathering clouds.
Let me be a song
played in the dark,
the swish
of a body
in the bath,
a wooden table
scarred with use.

Let me be the eyes that see – no need to worry.
No need to question
conclusions drawn.

It is only truth,
that gives meaning
to our failed,
baffled lives.

Let me be the cracking open.
Let me be the shivering.
Let me be the creak and the fall,
let me be
the peel
and the squeeze –
so that juice,
red and
can at last
spill out.

waiting for the ferry on a cloudy day

waiting for the ferry on a cloudy day

The sea of common glory
heard waiting for a ride,
a soft symphony of
mixed emotion.
Songs of passion play
next to cheerful chatting,
tourists watching carefully
near natives,
calm as tofu.
The sea rides silent underneath
cars wobbling on this bridge.

And overhead the clouds can’t help
but hover heavily,
as though waiting for one of us to get out,
stand up amongst our fellow strangers
(in their cars)
and shout,
“I get it now!
HERE is what’s important.”

Thus hearing the truth,
finally revealed,
the men would stop chatting and climb
into their trucks,
the woman with the heartbreak soundtrack
would lead us from this place,
and the ferry,
finally arriving,
would receive buckets
of ecstatic rain.

the fire pit

They sat in the sagging bellies of nylon folding lawn chairs. The sky behind them was blue-meets-black and before them the fire crackled orange and gold. Slumped, exhausted, hoodies from the garage over ruffles and thin tops, they gazed into those shifting flames.

Two sisters, now in the years where fifty meets sixty, and two silent husbands. Between them, where gazes met flame, were four decades of memories. Babies. Setting up first kitchens. Phone calls about Mom. Learning what marriage meant and how they would each cope with that.

Each carving out a role in the family – how she or he would each concede to the parental will, and when.

My grandpa is dead. He left a week ago. His body collapsed upon him and he slipped as gently as our modern medical system will let someone go, into that good night.

His wife was in the emergency room two days later and now snaps in response to questions – the dreary aftermath of loss. One sister is welcome and two are held this far away. The stresses of helping their mother build over their heads.

My mom and my aunt, my dad and my uncle, will sit around the fire, slowly drinking and smoking. Contemplatively. They will ponder the future of their mother and they will mark the passing of their father. It will not be a sentimental conversation. It will be oddly clear in spite of the smoke.

As a member of this clan, I believe that in the light of the fire pit, only truth is spoken. The truth may not be beautiful, and it may not be what Grandma would want to hear. But what happens here, in this quiet time, is a setting aside of the roles and the drama and the grandeur and the bullshit.

What happens here is simply four adults taking a moment, and a good long drag, to touch ground. They may not know it, but they are in the huddle.

So that, let it never be said, love tore them asunder.

The sandwich

John made a sandwich.
He sliced open the rough
spread a thick layer of mayo,
just a touch
of mustard
on top.
He piled meat, thin meat slices.
High as they would go.
And then he
placed cheese,
just a triangle
at a time.
The lettuce was a cascade.
he cut in half
the perfect lunch,
in order to disassemble it
inside his mouth.

the crone

Most think of “the high point” as a triumph – the promotion, the accolade, the orgasm. Few understand the most delicious and exhilarating moments of life exist poised between gratitude for what you have, and cold clear concentration on what you want.

She was haunted by a crone. The woman’s long gray hair scuffed the pavement. Eyes, milky, were overhung by full white brows. A nose you could perch a goose on, and the dank brown robes of the second coming.

She was ever in the corner of her eye.

To ask for more, as a woman, is to burden others with your selfishness. To ask for something that is not already prescribed or scripted is absurd. Perhaps her peripheral view of the crone was her subconscious mind saying, Ask for this, and you too will be dismissed.

If you are not grateful.

If you are not amazed.

If you have the audacity to suggest there could be more…

Just go. Go now. Go before we put you in your place.

It’s funny no one expects a boy to say, Wow.

She wanted to be impressed and she was not. She saw the ship on the horizon and her ticket was in hand.

In the meantime the crone rocked slowly and she smiled to reveal