The Friction of Salt

 

woman at sea

Image from Shutterstock

 

Pieces of her broke in the waves,
Searching for wildness
In this place she always went to be alone.
She walked along this shore a thousand times
In the dawn and the dusk
As if they were quantities unknown,
And thus, in them, she could discover some truth,
Some faith, some charity, some hope for herself.
Who knew? It had worked before.
She’d walk toward the town with something—
Some small bit piece replenished.

Besides–
She’d always heard salt was healing,
So she figured she’d rub it in her wounds.
But bloody red and raw
She walks still wounded, broken,
Along the wildness,
Yet not touching it.
Freedom elusive.
She can not find what she lost.
Her wounds chains,
Binding her still
To things she knew illusions.
She waits for the friction of salt
To rub away the chains.
She walks toward the seals in the surf
And on toward the whales in the deep,
Searching for truth or faith or charity
In the wildness of the sea.

 

The Garden

I gave you all my roses,
The many colors I had.
Cut them all from the bushes.
I knew there would be no more,
And I cut them for you.

The last few dozen blooms
I cut them down for you.
The bushes are dead now.

They will bud no more.
I double, triple checked.
The limbs snap crisply in dryness,
Easily between my weakened hands.
No supple green within.
A single snap finishes each limb.
And so finishes each bush.

I am done, a gardener
With nothing left to tend.

The Words

I
Words scattered across the page.
Words littering the soul.

All these words
Piled upon the table,
A hoarder’s table of words.

Words left unsaid,
Unwritten,
A bouquet of words
Wilting in the heart and mind.

Words twisted in contortionist meaning
Of manipulations,
Weaponized for destruction,
Yet leaving victims living.
II
Words of things that can’t be said.
Words of things that should have been.
Words of things we could not speak out of fears too deep.
Words of things we could not begin to understand
Of ourselves, of each other.
Words of things we wanted so to believe
Of others, of the world.
Words of hope
Of love
Of charity
Of peace.
Words of what we have lost.
Words of what we may never again find.
III
Words, words, words
Slipping through the fingers
Like water in a desert,
Dripping away, evaporating
Before they can be used.

Words, words, words
Twisting round the wrists,
Writhing up the arms,
Biting the face and neck,
Killing before they can be used.

Words, words, words
Left unread by faded ink,
Left unwritten by a tired mind,
Left unsaid by a fear filled mouth.

 

No Winning

No winning in this loosing.

Chunks of soil eroded,
Carried away by this freezing rain.

No artifice found in storm winds,
leaving an icy slush of blood
In the veins,

Or the heated words you
Coated with never melting ice.

The fire you set
Left forever unkindled.

How you must love your
Barren winter landscape,
A frozen revenge,
A frosty meaningless game.

Under A North Texas Sky

my own image

No roots here,
Not under this.
Not under this,
North Texas sky.
Nothing grew,
Nothing rooted,
Although I tried.

I planted native plants,
Fertilized and tended,
Weeded and watered,
Talked lovingly even,
Became the crazy lady
With the plants.

For a bit, just a bit,
Each plant bloomed
In wonderful cinematic, 
Glorious technicolor.
I would think– 
I’ve got it right!
But no. Each would start
To wilt and fade.
I googled and researched,
Soil tested even.
Yes, it’s true– to know
What to do.
But I was doing everything right.

No expert could tell me true,
Just why I could not
Get anything to flourish,
to grow, to root
In this, this North Texas soil
Under this, this North Texas sky.

A Tree in Winter

Getty Images vandervelden

My hope is
Different now,
Changed, evolved.
Once a verdant green
Of fresh, newborn spring.
Now evolved into this chilly thing–
Brown, dried husks,
A few barely clinging
To a tree in late autumn.
Seems something, someone
Sucked the hope out,
Fed on it as if it were life’s blood,
And I am left drained, a leftover hull
Of what once was. But I go on
As if all is the same and nothing
Is gone. A tree in winter,
Hoping enough green
Is left to grow, to live in spring.

Illusions

A word or two,
You. 
A word or two,
You.

And on it goes,
Until my throat does close,
And the bar with six screws
That holds my neck bones
Together rubs
At the esophageal tissue there.

And I think maybe a screw
Worked out of the bone.
That would be me—
A screw loose.

And I think
I am just too old,
Too old, for this–
Heartbreak shit.
Like Prufrock,
“I grow old, I grow old.”
Oh, how fuckin’ appropriate.

And then I go walk.
But not “upon the beach.”
What I thought you were,
What I wanted to believe you were,
There still when I return.

Every Thing

Changed, evolved.

Everything

Used to be a verdant green

Of fresh, newborn spring.

Evolved into a chilly thing,

Brown, dried husks,

A few barely clinging

To a tree in late autumn,

Early winter.

Seems something, someone

Sucked the hope out,

Fed on it as if it were life’s blood,

And everything is drained, a leftover hull

Of what once was.  But everything goes on.

As if all is the same and nothing

Is gone.

Elemental Breath

 From the shaking dirge cries of birth
 To the desire for ease in the between, 
 Before the elemental breath rattles at death,
 We are lost in cacophonous sighs of daily life, 
 Choosing to turn away 
 From moments appearing as iridescent sun rays
 As if God's fingers reached 
 Between the clouds 
 To touch the earth.
 Yes, we turn away,
 Notice nothing,
 Pick up kids,
 Fix dinner,
 Do laundry,
 A trip to Wal-Mart,
 And to work,
 The mundane of every day,
 Yes, it must be done,
 To hurry toward the waiting,
 While living holding sand,
 Until expelling 
 the elemental breath before death. 
   

Silver and White Under a Ruidoso Sky

 Here, under a Ruidoso sky,
 You remind me:
 An extraordinarily warm spring day
 Spent in a field somewhere
 In Lancaster County, PA.
 Where exactly? Well, now,
 I could not really say.
 I’d never find it again,
 Even after taking the memory
 Down off the shelf
 And dusting the cobwebs away.
  
 I remember the day in snapshots
 Before we trampled, stomped, burned
 our youth:
 The drive from Baltimore
 In your little black sports car.
 The top down.  The wind
 Running its fingers through
 Your copper hair.
 The glitter of your crystalline eyes
 In the morning sunshine.
 The softness of 501 jeans washed
 A thousand times.
 Your artist’s soul looking for the
 Perfect spot, rejecting several
 Before perfection found,
 A sun-drenched meadow amid
 Pine trees.  No Amish around, you said.
 The care you took with blankets
 And picnic basket and, of course,
 Your ever-present sketchbook.
 Cheeses, bread, fruits, and wine
 You packed.
 I read.
 You sketched.
 We ate and drank.
 Then, I posed for you,
 The first time.
 No one was around.
 No one could see,
 You said and so
 You shucked me
 Of clothing and
 Arranged me
 And my long black curls.
 You sketched me
 And said you wished you
 Had your paints.
 Copper and black hair
 Tangled together.
 And the sun low
 In the sky.  We
 Packed the basket
 And folded the blanket.
  
 Some 40, 41 years ago.
 Snapshots of that day.
 Why remind me now?
 We trampled, stomped, burned our
 Youth down.  Oh, yes. we could tease
 "Here come and sit, where never 
 serpent hisses, And being set, 
 I'll smother thee with kisses."
 We’d do nothing better in the
 Here and the now were we to tangle
 Silver and white together.
 Lies were told, I know.
 For once, I wanted to believe.
 Your truth telling services,
 I do not need…
  
 And the tangling of silver and white now, just--
 The braiding of loneliness and longing
 Leaves us soulless.