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Posts Tagged ‘vignettes’

as you look across
the room/table/bed
at him/her/them
your heart’s perfect home

remember this

skin wrinkles
waists thicken
hair goes thin/grey

know this

hearts grow
minds expand
dreams die/are reborn

expect this

we are inconstant
water in life’s river
evolving/adapting/learning

accept this

alive
we change
we are change

want this

life
is our fate
promise
gift

remember this
know this
expect this
accept this
want this

***

k

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Man, the tool maker.

Great apes, dolphins, sea otters, crows, jays, octopuses: Dude, get a grip.

Man, the user of language.

Dolphins (again), orcas, bats: Um… what now?

Man, the animal that grieves.

Elephants, dolphins (yet again), giraffes, jays: Seriously?

Man, the animal that farms its food.

Ants, damselfish, wood beetles: Hey, get off my lawn!

Man, um, the … jeez … the animal that cooks its food.

Dragons: Hold my beer.


k

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Thursday: Barbarians at the gate

Riders, sir! Enemy advancing! Portcullis down! Drawbridge up! All able bodies to the walls! Defend the city! Heaven help us, they’ve breached our defenses. We’re being overrun!

Friday: Auto-da-fé

Muscles are seared by heat. Every joint creaks. Be strong! Don’t give in. Tell them nothing! But the fire, it burns. It burns!

Saturday: Eye of the Storm

The fire is out. My lungs pop and snap with the sound of distant firecrackers, only to explode in fits of coughing that tear my throat. My muscles have the strength of cooked ramen. I get aerobic just standing up. This thing, it has my wife, now; she is following my trail, and today she burns in Torquemada’s fire.

Sunday: Clever Girl

The virus spent two days in my chest and has fully colonized me. Now it climbs to its launch pad: my head. Chest rattling, nose dammed, the hacking coughs are joined by hook-ended sneezes that tear off little bits of lung in their explosive exit. My eyes weep tears of acid, burning, bringing more toxic tears. I am a seeping, spasmodic mass of flesh. The yellow jack flies high.

Monday: The Land of the Vocal Fry

My voice has dropped below Barry White level and shudders like an ill-tuned Harley. Every miserable exhalation is accompanied by a crushed-gravel moan, but not from pain; it’s a comfort. To hear my voice, damaged as it is, is to confirm that I’m still alive.

Tuesday: End Game

Expectations are low. Stamina is limited. We return to work (from home … we don’t want to give this to anyone else), but will continue to rest, repair, and recoup our spent reserves.

k

Disclaimer:
I do not often get colds. Usually, I fight them off. This is the first time I’ve been brought low in about two years. My wife — a woman who always gives me straight answers to direct questions — assures me that rather than being a man-baby about it, I’m pretty much a Stoic, refusing to succumb even when rest would do me more good. This time, I had little choice. Surrender was my only option.

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We have changed, she and I.

The slender, vibrant creatures of decades past are gone. The bright, idealistic hearts of youth have faded.

Our eyes are dimmer, our skin more slack. The hair we brush is thin, dull. Our waists are thick. Our steps less spry. Our knees creak as we climb the stairs. We can feel in our joints a coming storm. Night comes early, and rarely now are we awake to hear the chimes at midnight.

Others look at us and see: an older couple, a bit odd perhaps, a bit retrograde in tastes and attitudes, middle-aged, greying, but pleasant. We are faded echoes of a beauty long past its prime. That is what they see, and they are not wrong but…

…I see us differently.

I see two souls in a long, entwined dance, an Arthur Murray diagram stretching back through time and space. I see two bodies, traveling together, paired by love’s gravity, swinging each other through the cosmos. I see the whole of us, from our separate births through our unlikely meeting, a shared past gyring toward an unknown hoped-for future.

We’ve seen decades. We’ve learned from life. We know that nothing lasts forever — only the earth and the mountains — but beauty resides within us still.

The beauty of our history.

The beauty of our past.

The beauty of our one life built together.

To us.

k

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I see a silver-lit night, full moon struggling to pierce slate-colored clouds. I see a ghostly crag, pale rocks rising above a dark, heathered moor. I see a woman in blue standing at its summit, bare feet on bare stone, hair loose, arms wide, waiting.

The clouds marshal their forces, focus their power. Winds rise, rumbling forward, and rain comes down in icy sheets. The storm builds, advancing on the crag.

She stands tall and closes her eyes, her nostrils scenting the moss and granite beneath her feet, and the wind-swept tang of a miles-off sea.

Glassy whips lash the sky. The storm clenches its fist. Heather bows beneath its blasted screams.

The woman turns, facing the storm as it thunders toward her on lightning limbs. She tilts back her head, bares her throat.

The wind belches a roaring laugh, sprinting toward its prey.

With a smile and fulsome intent she grabs the wind, bends its trajectory, twisting its path, coiling it around her summit. She reels it in, pulling it to her. She breathes it in, breathes in its power. Her eyes flash open and she sees the swirling clouds above, the vortex of her control. The wind is within her now, part of her. The wind’s laugh is now her laugh.

This is not a victory, the wind not a vanquished enemy. This is a joining, a strengthening, a fusion.

She and the storm are one.

Now, she is power. Now, she is strength.

Now, she is the storm.

La Push

 

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Femme VoiléeI did not wind the clocks this month. They tick down to silence, measuring out the year’s last hours with ponderous chimes.

This New Year’s Eve, the house will be quiet.

No television. No dropping ball. No music. No crowds.

No friends. No crackling fire. No pop of effervescent wine. No clink of crystal. Not even the ticking of a clock.

All will be silent, and I will sit on the stoop in the frost-rimed dark beneath the moonless sky and will wait.

Listening.

I want to hear it, you see, and want no other sound to interfere.

I want to hear this obscene alliance of Time and Death, this year that has gorged itself on family, friends, and icons, that has snuffed out lights of culture, killed dreams, thwarted hope, I want to hear it die.

As it lays before me, I will kneel at its side. I will lean into its abattoir scent, my ear close to its gasping mouth. I will hear as it exhales its final breath into the void.

And if it does not come, if at that silent stroke of twelve this baleful year somehow breathes on, then as I ring in the New Year, I shall wring out the old, my hands around its throat.

This year shall end, if I have to do it myself.

k

Typewriter

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Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA

I walk to work
The same hour each day
And make a time-lapse film
Frame by frame
To capture the passing year.

Buildings fall into vacant lots,
Rise from the rubble.
Storms flash overhead.
Cars blur past
Dreary commuters
Taking dreary steps
Toward dreary jobs.

But along the sidewalk,
Sweetgums grow
Tall, stately, serene,
Life in the grey and black canyons.

In winter, they sleep.
I walk wet pavement
Beneath dark, dripping skeletons.

With springtime sun,
Acid green buds
Burst open in an eyeblink
To shake new leaves
In the morning air.

My summer path leads
Beneath crinoline branches,
Silken leaves rustling,
Lazing in the light.

Autumn comes and the sun,
Tired out by long days,
Grows tardy.
The sweetgums sport fall fashions and,
For a few brief frames,
The sunrise and I,
Bleary-eyed,
Collars turned against the season’s chill,
Walk the streets together.

The sky is a purple shell.
The air is still.
The trees are dark,
Their branches garbed in orange and rust.
They do not rustle.
They do not shake.

They sizzle.

Deep within them, hidden by dying leaves,
A thousand starlings wake.
They greet the sunrise with
Gricks and whistles,
Creaks and pips.
I stand smiling
Beneath a thousand chittering mouths,
Listening to
The sound of butter in a hot skillet.

Sizzle. Pop. Hiss. Flutter. Zing.

A few more days,
A few more frames,
And the sun lags behind me.
The sweetgums now are silent,
Branches laden with sleeping birds.
Later still,
Once the trees drop their leafy frocks,
The starlings leave the city to winter’s cold,
And once more I walk alone
Beneath dark and bony boughs.

k

Typewriter

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