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Posts Tagged ‘vignette’

For decades now, a ginger-haired girl has lived near us. Not the same girl, mind you. We’ve lived in three places in the past thirty years and, at each address, a ginger-haired girl has lived a few houses down, across the street, or around the corner. There has only been one such girl living near us at any particular time, as if there is some sort of limit on how many redheads a neighborhood can sustain.

I’ve never spoken to any of these girls, aside from chitchat about costumes on Hallowe’en night, but nevertheless, I’ve gleaned something about their character, their personality.

When we lived up in Richmond Beach, there was the young redhead who we only saw as she ran by our house. I never, ever saw her walk. She only ran, a blur of that grew ever taller as the years went by. To school, from school, out to meet friends, coming home from play. Run, run, run, faster each year, as her legs grew longer and her speed increased.

She is Energy. Vitality. Eagerness.

For the past dozen years or so, there’s a girl with wild, ginger hair who lives behind us. From our kitchen window I can see the swing set in her yard and a day does not go by where I do not see her out there, kicking her way, to and fro, through the upended arc. She swings rain or shine, heat or cold. Her hair, once left wild, has now been tamed by Beats headphones. It is her haven there, alone on that swing.

She is Focus. Solitude. Diffidence.

And then there was the little girl who lived across the street for a few years. Vivacious and vocal, she was a true individual, as full of questions and unpredictability as only a seven-year old can be.

There is one day I remember clearly. It was December, closing in on Christmas, and it had snowed, just a few inches, just enough to give the world that magical, unsullied patina. I was on the treadmill, listening to McCreary’s “Passacaglia,” a serene piece for strings in 3/4 time, and I noticed our redheaded neighbor out in her yard, walking with a friend. The two girls were bundled up, wearing swing coats and knitted caps. The redhead’s parents had put up, along with the strings of lights along the eaves, a giant inflatable snowman on their lawn. The snowman, with carrot nose and top hat, rocked gently in the breeze.

The two girls, hand in mittened hand, walked across the snowy lawn and up to the snowman. They stopped a few feet from his round belly, both looking up at his face. It was an idyllic picture, and the music made a perfect soundtrack.

Until the ginger-haired girl, this sweet, inquisitive tyke, stepped up to the inflated giant, and began kicking the crap out of him. Her friend clapped her hands and ran forward to join the assault. Together, the two girls kicked and kicked, little boots punishing, snow flying. The snowman wobbled under their attack, reeling side to side against his guy wires. The girls continued the onslaught and the snowman began to sag, one side crumpling, his painted smile belying the tragedy as he slowly sank down onto the trampled snow until only his top hat remained upright.

Hand in hand once more, the girls walked up to the house and went inside, leaving me stunned, gaping, caught between laughter and mild horror, as the passacaglia finished.

She is Chaos. Complexity. Unrepentance.

Redheads. Go figger.

k

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Evening shadows
gather beneath the cedars.
Beyond the garden fence
the dogs stir and pace
preparing for the nightly trespass.

Trooping into my garden
the raccoons are confident
unfazed by snapping teeth
beyond the fenceline.

Full-throated threats
voice present frustration.
Irregular
urgent
they disquiet my peace.

The interlopers
unperturbed
disappear into the gloaming.
The dogs
with disconsolate growls
return to their beds.

Night draws the shades.
Trees sigh in the easy breeze.
The moon rises
small and bright
limning dark conifers.

Far off
a distant siren
rouses the sentries.
One lifts her muzzle toward
dark clarity
issues a low, rising note.

Her partner joins
adding contrapuntal lines
to calm, focused song.
They take a breath.
A new verse begins.

The mournful howls
echo memories
of pack
of wild
of ancient blood.
Unhurried
restrained
they salve my soul.

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Iris in RainI kneel in the dripping ivy. A trowel in one hand, my other is deep in the soil, searching for the dandelion’s root. The root twists and writhes beneath my fingers, wet and tough, unwilling.

The rain taps across my hat’s felted brim, caresses my steaming back with its cool touch. The spring day is cold, but my work keeps me warm.

The bite of woodsmoke reaches me. I lift my nose and scent the air. My breath comes out a mist.

I grimace as digits plunge farther down into the black loam. The earth envelopes my hand, its serenity infuses me, my worries leach away.

I am the root, now. I am the plant. I am the garden.

k

Pine Pollen

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GakuI once knew a girl.

She was beautiful, with happy eyes and apple cheeks and long, black hair. She was quick to smile, her eyes turning into crescents, her laugh quiet and shy, like a secret. She was quiet, like me, and thoughtful, unafraid of deeper questions. She played the violin, not very well, but well enough to enjoy the challenge, the process, and the camaraderie of the shared anguish of second violins. From my seat in the viola section, we would share a glance, a wink.

She was kind. When I told her of my growing affections, she suggested we take a different course. I decided my life was better with her in it, and agreed. We remained friends, wrote letters, flirted without romance, talked of life, of dreams, of the future.

In time, though, our paths diverged. Other loves and other dreams led us both away from our hometown. Our letters grew infrequent, then stopped.

Decades passed.

Then, a note. An email. Is that you? Do you remember me? (more…)

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