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Posts Tagged ‘vignettes’

It’s been a week of retrospection, and I mean that in the most literal sense.

We spent most of our week going through old papers—letters, receipts, documents, and such—searching for the most important ones to put a fireproof box. This was our way of jump-starting the Big Adulting task of writing wills, issuing powers of attorney, and all the other things attendant to, well, to our inevitable death.

Naturally, as happens when rummaging through one’s past in this way, we come across a lot that was not what we were looking for, and I mean a shit-ton of it. But for every time I found a manual for an appliance we no longer have, purchased with a now-defunct credit card, issued by a bank that collapsed a decade ago, I also found a photo of my brother in Mali, a 1946 letter from my great-aunt, a receipt for baguettes from the boulangerie around the corner from our Paris walk-up, a love note from my dad to my mom, or a ticket stub from the night I took my girlfriend to the movies in Jerusalem. None of it will mean anything to my heirs (presuming I have any), but for me, each item carries incredible weight.

As I hold that old Oyster Card, I hear my panting breath as I climb the stairs to hear Big Ben strike the noon hour. Picking up that acorn, rattling in the bottom of the cardboard box, I’m hit with the unseasonable heat of Gettysburg in October, surrounded by the humid scent of wild onions as I walk beneath the oaks of Devil’s Den.

It was a long journey, this week, due to the many, many side trips we took while digging through banker’s boxes filled with, okay, filled with a lot of junk, but also a lot of our collective past. I found things I’d merely forgotten about, but I also found things I’d never seen, items turned over en masse by my folks or accreted from their estates; like my 3rd grade school photo, the one with me making a Calvinesque goofball face, the one that pissed off my mother something fierce, the one on the back of which my dad jotted a hidden note: “This is Kurt. He’s smart as a whip, and I have trouble keeping up with him.” When had he written this? And to whom? And why had he kept it so long? And why had he never expressed this thought to me?

These boxes seem filled only with musty paper, small trinkets, and fading photos, but in truth, they’re filled with love, joy, grief, anger, wonder, and history. Should the tragedy of fire strike our home, they’ll not survive—only birth certificates, marriage licenses, wills, deeds, titles, and passports will have that honor—but even if I had a fireproof box the size of a two-car garage, I don’t know that I’d protect them there.

They are my history, sure, but like me, they are transitory, incapable of permanence beyond the time circumscribed by my birth and my death.

And perhaps, this is the way it should be.

we are
ephemeral
mayfly deities
standing at the verge
in sight of the distant shore
ready to leap

k

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Fingers deep in waking earth
  clearing ferns from wintry somnolence

Their feathered, spiked, serrate fronds
  release spores in ochre clouds

Raindrops drum my hat brim
  enthusiastic paradiddles of spring

Hands set blade to swordleaf
  trimming old stems and rusted detritus

From the center I lift accreted duff
  revealing curls, verdant and sleepy

Nestled in that fiddlehead crown
  is the confidence of rebirth

Hope is spring’s eternal gift
  a promise of life
    and all it contains

 

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Today
I celebrate an age
I never thought I’d see
and reflect on those moments
when my river’s course
was shifted from its banks
by

arrivals
departures
separations
reunions

by decisions

to love
to hate
to forgive
to survive

Today,
I am the sum of

every decision
every event
every question
every answer

But that sum is fluid
affected by even 
the smallest breeze
the least drop of rain

For even now
as these words pass
before your eyes
you join me
in my story
and change
the tally
of my life

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  • Always stretch after rising. Legs, too.
  • There’s never a bad time for a nap.
  • You can eat the same thing every day and be just fine.
  • Catch and release is fun, but sometimes catch is what’s required.
  • Dawn is one of the best times of the day.
  • Staring out the window is a perfectly good use of your time.
  • Sometimes you just have to put up with other people.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want.

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiAugust, without a doubt, is my least favorite month. It’s when the garden starts to pant and parch, spiders build massive obstacle courses in the yard, fruit goes from unripe green to fuzzy grey within minutes, and wildfire smoke descends to choke our skies, our lungs, our eyes.

And this August, it’s also when a “great” idea for a bit of topical poetry falls totally flat. (more…)

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at the cliff’s edge
the earth falls
through giddy space 
to clammy sands
sunlight spears the steel wool clouds
and blazes from gunmetal curls
brined winds press me back
with death-cold hands

hot anger fills me
magma of rage
ready to spew forth
and boil the sea below
as I ponder the choice between
a hateful god
slayer of the young
and no god at all

humanity
we are
upright beasts gifted
with massive power
over nothing
with dreams of eternity
circumscribed by birth and death
we are
ephemeral
mayfly deities
standing at the verge
in sight of the distant shore
ready to leap
to fly
to perish
on a solitary sojourn
that has no arrival


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I was three years old—it seems a world away, now—sitting in the front room, looking out the big window.

Our house on Oak Drive was a two-story affair on the uphill side of the street, and from my vantage I could look down on the massive junipers that bordered our small yard. When I played beneath them, they would tower over me, reach for me with scented claws, and dust me with clouds of pollen so that, when Mother called, I would come inside covered in red weals, begrimed with a patina of yellow, and redolent of resin. (more…)

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