Have you ever had so much going on that you couldn’t light on one thing to focus on (or in this case write about)? That’s me now, and let me tell you, when I finally do find the balanced place I’ll have a story to tell. In the meantime, here are some more re-runs.
He says little, but from his eyes
I know our family-gathering ritual
has not yet fallen prey to the passage of time.
His tired boots, caked with mud and miles,
wait by the door, ready for action
like leaders of some exotic expedition.
The safety goggles hang expectantly
from the kitchen doorknob and his hooded jacket
rests against the back of a dining room chair.
The four-wheeler, smelling of fuel and cold air,
sits idly in its corner of the garage.
He is ready.
I need only ask.I remember our first ride.
We blazed through the woods,
along a farmer’s field trail and over—
yes, over—small trees,
past murky ponds, mud puddles,
pencil-thin creeks in yard-wide beds.
I clasped my hands around his waist,
cautiously lifted my face to the wind.
Immersed in the tranquility of speed,
I suddenly remembered the day he was born
and my mother took me to see him,
her sister’s boy, the first grandson—
recalled his blond curls, the mischief in his eyes
and how I always carried him on my back.
We were connected then.
We still are.
Nowadays he carries me.
I cling to his back and we ride.
He makes sure I’m holding on,
protects me from low menacing branches,
slows down at puddles so I don’t get muddy
when I know he’d rather fly.
On these four wheels our worlds reverse
and there is a certain wildness for me
in trusting my life to this man-child
whose four-year old giggle I still hear sometimes.
I linger a moment in my mind with the little boy
no longer little, who now carries the youngest grandchild,
my mother’s third girl, on his shoulders as I once
carried him. Then he looks my way, and it is my turn.
He nods toward the open door. I am ready.
“It’s weird being me,”the singing poet said,
and I agree: my head
is full, and empty—balloon
filled with air, with nothing, and soon
it just deflates, and out roams
the vacancy and fullness known
as oxygen. The sign is unplugged but still
there is a tiny neon tube, at will
blinking off on, off on; people look,
then walk away and I am off the hook.
I am a blank page covered
with doodles and lines—like a lover
soft, like a stone wall cold and hard.
My eyes are clear glass and colored shards,
jaw steady, lips shake, one hand
cuts while the other stitches. The band
marches triple-time to my daily dirge.
I want to run but I have the urge
to sleep a century long like Rip, unaware
of my brittle confusion, my liquid despair.
I see my face in the magic mirror,
smile and glare, begging the question: “Here or
there? Where are you, am I, are we?”
I answer myself with laughter and see
tears in the reflection. What happens when
the looking glass breaks—hey, maybe then
I’ll just be: two sides, black and white,
ever-changing undone deal, wrong, right,
indifferent. My brain beats, my heart
is a scholar—my horse runs alongside the cart.
I am a writer acting a song on a clean
canvas, from red to violet and every note between.
Sweet contradiction, beautiful incongruity
resting, waking, under my surface. See?
It’s weird being me.