Monday, September 26, 2016

Somebody


I recognize somebody walking down the street. It's bustling. I say a quick hello and smile. Nothing.

I see him again in the subway. I give a little wave. Again, nothing.

This is a friend of a friend. He doesn't know me well enough to be angry with me.

This happens with this guy semi-frequently. We travel in some of the same circles at the same time. I am accustomed to giving a fast, non-invasive greeting when I know somebody. Nothing overwhelming. If he's worried that I want to have a conversation with him, he needn't be.

I go over the social strata that I travel in. It is indeed customary to say hello when you see someone you know even a little bit in a public place. I ran into another guy earlier, someone I know even less. That was an entirely different reception. What a difference! This guy seemed delighted - enchanted, even.

I speculate that the unfriendly man doesn't have peripheral vision. I speculate that he has a rare disorder where you cannot recognize faces in public.

Before considering early onset dementia and autism spectrum disorders, I quit it. I must face facts. There is a commonplace explanation for what is going on. And since I've had an extremely good and relaxing day I take my epiphany rather well.

The friend of a friend doesn't like me. He does not want to exchange even the smallest of pleasantries.

Not everybody is going to like me.

This feels liberating so I take it a bit further.

Not everybody is going to like my photography. Not everybody is going to like my writing. Not everybody is going to like the collages I make.

If I go out to a restaurant with Jeremy and dress up, many people will like my outfit. But not everyone. Some people will think it looks like crap.

I am not Beyoncé. I am not to everyone's taste. I'm like a sister to a lot of guys. But a few men find me sexually attractive. I'm either an acquired taste, or a highly specialized one. I'm good with it.

For some I'm funny. For others, I'm annoying.

So after having an unusually satisfactory day and thinking about it much longer and in greater detail and with more analogies than necessary I was a calm, non-attached observer to the friend of a friend liking my friends very much and me not at all.

It didn't even bother me that I previously thought he liked me well enough and that I misjudged the situation.


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

To mend


Hands are to clasp.
Paper to crease, in two, then four.
Thread is to sew.
The fabric to warm, to reign.
What once was asunder.
What once lay splayed and wrecked.

Get me the lamp.
Fetch the bandages, the salve.
I can't do this on my own.
I can't fix it in the dark.

May I weld hot and straight.
May I cobble.
Rough hewn and jaunty.
It doesn't matter how it's done.
As long as it snaps shut.
Sure in itself, sure of you.

Affix, iron smooth.
Pull apart, undo.
Only if you can knit together.
Purl one, purl two.
More beauteous and bountiful than before.

Words to cajole.
That dollop of honey.
Lap it up, scrape the jar.
The repast is yours.
Take your time, for sweet after bitter.
Is better than sugar alone.

Procure me the finer things.
Cashmere wool, marbled paper.
Trained eyes, a wide wood table.
A window to let in the sun.
And a pretty curtain to keep it out.

Barter the merchants, best you can.
But I'll work with whatever you have.
For me, this provider, this job doer.
Even the cheap tools will do.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

No Trophies



Somebody will seem perfect. They achieve something you've tried in vain to pull off. You feel the smack of comparison. You're lacking. And worse, now you have an audience.

The competent individual is not a better person. They've done this dazzling thing because they can. They can, so they do. You would if you could.


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Monday, August 29, 2016

Pall


I won't talk about faces
I've had quite enough of them.
This is my providence.
So here, I do what I want.

I'll write of a landscape.
The color of dried mud.
It goes on forever, this vista.
That's what makes it barren.
That's what makes it heavy to carry.

Or maybe it's an abstract.
Crafted by clumsy hands.
Wielding churlish colors straight from the tube.
Too lazy and sullen to mix them.
Or maybe they like that ugly purple.
Bruised and stiff, if sore were a shade.
They would, wouldn't they?

Believe me, I remember that coverlet.
Laid upon me, such as it is.
A cheap, thin blanket, lousy with thistle
Smelling of mildew and blood.

It's brutal silence
Tight lipped and cool
It's fixed in stone.
Anything else got buried long ago,
With the dead birds and the goldfish.

The backstage of the carnival is always worse to bear.
Than even the part we see, dizzy and swirling.
Why do they come day after hot day?
Year after year?

I said that I wouldn't.
But it seeps around the edges of things.
Wounds festered through the bandage.
Faces aren't welcome here.
But look, I talked about them anyway.




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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The very second you lost me


A wisp of a time
An inkling
Fragile, yet.

For those 15 minutes
I sat in the palm of your hand
Nested there.
Among the flotsam and clutter.

You took that other turn.
I watched you, I watched it happen.
Prism-crisp, I see it still.

Misstep, misspoke, carried off by wind and hurl.
Breeze being too light a word for what you lost.

Turns out I have a shelf life.
Breathe in I'm there, breathe out I'm gone.

Here are the liberties I took
With the liberties you didn't.

I got up from my chair
I raised your window wider
Fresh air! I said.
My lie, white and oft bleached.
Blinded I am, by my own fiction.

What really happened.
Is I let you blow away.
Along with the hope, bunting soft as it was.

And when that took too long
I fanned what was left.

Is it hard? Does it smart?
Sure.
But I'll be damned
If you get to make all the plans.



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Sunday, July 17, 2016

I'm not going anywhere


I made sure to look decent whenever I went over to see him. It was a dire situation. He didn't need me showing up there looking like hell warmed over. Besides, I didn't want him to know how worried I was.

I'd gone over for several days in a row. It was decided that I should take a day off. A friend of mine suggested it. I ran with it.

So the next day I woke up with the knowledge that I was not going to leave the house. I wasn't going over to his house or anyone else's. I had no appointments. I wasn't expected at either of my kids' schools. The farthest I'd be walking would be to the laundry room.

The thing I remember most  about that day was getting dressed. The clothes selected themselves.

I put on my Camp Sunshine sweatpants. The elastic was shot, but they still stayed up. The Camp Sunshine logo was almost worn away. It looked like peeling paint.

I topped it off with a long sleeved, ultramarine blue tee shirt. The design looks slightly Buddhist. It's fancy font invites you to Imagine A World Without Cancer.

It turns out the shirt, acquired on account of being a Cancer mom, and unfortunately, also a bereaved mom, was  somewhat applicable to my current predicament. Because of fucking cancer.

The pants too, but less directly.

Finally, I rounded off my statement with thick green socks with treads at the bottoms. These are hospital socks. They gave them to me at the UrgentCare center when I broke my ankle. They stretched one over my splinted foot to prepare for my trip home. I put the other one in my bag.

The best thing about the clothes and socks were their comfort. I was clearly engaging in what lifestyle blogs call extreme self care. Not facial masks, cleanses or a spa. My version of it.

The second best thing about the three elements were that they are all on a list of items that I am only allowed to wear around the house. I used to wear these things out in public. Since that time, I have raised my standards considerably.

It was appealing to wear a tee shirt at home that I could never wear to visit him. He could no longer imagine a world without cancer. It would be pointless to try. It would be a terrible idea to wear it in front of him. Besides, as I've indicated earlier, it isn't even flattering.

But I was free to imagine a world without cancer in my own home.

I luxuriated in looking bad but feeling good. Sometimes I caught sight of myself in a mirror. The worse I looked the better I liked it.

I don't remember much else about that day. It was not a watershed day in terms of accomplishment. I have some positive memories about it, even as the details blur.

Right after that, things took a terrible turn. There were emergency trips to see him. There were emergency phone calls to help him.

Laundry was the last thing on my mind. One of the last times I went, but not the very last time, I broke down and wore the Camp Sunshine pants. Most of my other clothes were dirty.

Another friend was there visiting with me. Sweatpants, he said. It was without judgement. It was a statement of fact. For him, this was an unexpected development. Yes, I said.

When I bought the Camp Sunshine pants, I believed that I would never throw them out. But not long after he died, I brought them to fabric recycling. They developed holes. They no longer stayed up. I was okay with it. Especially under the circumstances.

I'm not ready to write much about him yet. I'm not even prepared to write about his clothes. Writing about my own clothes is about the best I can do.



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Monday, July 11, 2016

PlainFolk


Hair to plait, to tuck away.
Skin scrubbed, tawny by noon.
Leave the pale to the gilded cage.
We don't need them here.

Maid to bride to matron be.
Done in an instant.
This kingdom made for the buxom, brown.
Youth be wasted now.
Prize be service, prize be steady.
Day by day, noon to evening, winter to spring.

You will bear child after child.
Some brighter, some stronger or kinder than the rest.
No use being stingy.
You were  made for this life.

You stretch the crop, you stretch the slaughter.
You salt, you sweeten, you brine.
Then lay it upon a table, to seem aplenty.
Grace could be said to you alone,
For planting the seed, for manning the pot.

Feet to wear.
Grooves across fields, across floorboards.
You cut a serviceable figure.
In frocks sewn, made thin and soft
Dyed pale by the clothesline, sunburned wind whipped.
Beauty be what beauty does.

Hands made to till, hands that will forage.
Arms to hold, to wash the dust and grit.
Eyes clear and bright to squint away the morn, to see in the dark.
Ears to listen for the cry, the locusts.
The rare sound of company calling, the butter ready in a pan.

Pink lips part, velvet borne.
From bitten rose, from scalloped lily.
This is handiwork, the one finer thing.
Drawn by a different god, sweet cast of artifice.
Set aloft by Jesus or Darwin.
Almost too fair, sinful even.
A bit of sugar.
To lay upon the bent husband who chose you.
And the side by side you made with him.


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