Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Pillow Talk

A Sunday Morning Haiku

Did I push you o’er

Or pull you back from the edge?

Our world is round, Babe.

Her, And Her Antecedents

A katydid chirped

somewhere in this

200 year-old cottage,

interrupting the nightly

rituals, the scramble to

finish everything on the

proverbial fifteen year-old plate.

A lightning rod for all teenaged

concerns diverted anxiety onto

one undeserving creature

that has but one year to live

himself.

She is less entomophobic, more

stuck in the middle of

push and pull, making the

daily decision to provide, need, or

want, to place her hands on the

end of the rope that is manned by the

appropriate team.

This time, her younger self wins:

not the one who complains about

the sensitivity of her navel,

the grimace of the ancient place

that once connected her to her host; or

feels annoyance by

the dichotomy of responsibilities

of the child/parent who diverts trips home

through her ancestral village

to flip switches that her own

octogenarian mother can’t reach,

But the one who revels in the

foregone conclusion that

her mother will always want

to cradle her in the palms of

her warm hands, the same ones

that transport a green grasshopper

to a more obliging, al fresco

surrounding.

Sleep comes, tucked into

a familiar fetal position,

at the end of the day when she reflects

on all that has become ours, the

lists, the burden of what she carried, but ultimately,

Under the pacific weight of a quilt that allows

rest, respite, and a feral understanding

of the comfort it is to live where we belong and

to be essential, at both ends of the rope.

Second Cup of Saturday Morning Coffee

https://youtu.be/C1orjmtBNao

Mary Oliver’s Deeper Breaths

Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?

https://audioboom.com/posts/2228411-have-you-ever-tried-to-enter-the-long-black-branches-by-mary-oliver

Titania’s Kingdom

It has been weeks since
You hung this gaudy
Capsized bottle, adorned
With red flowers, on
Our porch, designed
To attract hummingbirds
Via manufactured engineering.

You filled the glass with
A simple solution
Of water, a substance
So soft it can cut stone, and
Sugar, simple, sweet, essential
Balancing the bloodstream
Of every living organism.

You share no blood
With my daughter,
With whom you hang this
Ridiculous thing, you are
No relation, other than human.
Your pained hearts pump
DNA that is incompatible,
Yet curiously in rhythm,
At times, as they free themselves
Of anxious restraints.

Here on my porch there are
No gifts from the universe,
No restored faith in humanity.
Just a graceful gesture
In the middle of mayhem.

It is a quiet morning on
Which they arrive, beating
Their wings at an incomprehensible
Speed, tiny visions, fairies,
A beautiful reveal of a
Vulnerable red throat
To delight, to love my own
Mischievous Puck
In your absence.

Please Pardon Our Appearance

Come along, Dear,

She didn’t heed,

The little girl with dirty knees

And simple needs:

Popcorn, with extra butter.

The theatre was closed,

Temporarily,

It’s windows papered

While others labored

For something altogether new.

Peeled back, like

The rough hem of a curtain,

A fitting room

Where women groomed:

Work boots, revealed.

She doesn’t know,

Quite yet, the social mores,

Of personal space,

The essential grace

Of privacy, of convention.

Curious of what happens

Behind the drapes

We draw for ourselves

Where tortuous elves

Tear everything down.

Hard work, a boulot,

More mundane in French:

The rituals of preservation,

Of salvation,

Of rising out of the ashes.

Leave them be, Dear,

An outstretched hand, to

Teach the child,

Ignore the junk, piled

And patiently await the Phoenix.

Déménagement

There are spaces we occupy,

We nomadic tribes, picking

Up and leaving the eroded

Ground behind us,

Touching each and every

Possession twice, at origin,

Destination, judging

The beauty, the utility

Of an object.

The original purchase of

Sacred ground, from

The raised open palm of

The Wyantenock to

Transplanted Englishmen

At the peaceful source of

A river, ushered forth

A revolution,

As does mine: yet altogether

More personally. I cast off

The ill-advised blouse, the

Vacuum that never worked;

But I carry your letters,

My own hand-written

Epistolary memoir,

With me, like the bleached

Bones of our dead.

Winter Solstice

Omnipresent,

This injured child, propped

On her hip, arm looped

Around her waist, hand palmed

At the half moon crescent of her

Buttock, pelvic bone locked

In her cramped fingers.

The child, the mother, the woman:

Bound, each to each,

Bedraggled, malnourished,

Chaffed and tattered, less like

Jacob’s chains, more like

A scarred spot

That was tender to the touch,

Yet comforted by piety,

To behold what makes

Her heart leap, for one:

Migrating mergansers,

Whose crests, disheveled

From diving to great depths,

Arrive on a cold New England Lake,

On the darkest day of the year.

Historic Preservation

For more than a century she stood
On a rocky outcrop of
Land, a pile of indigenous stone
On the shore of a glacial Lake,
Carved, an ancient water-filled
Sculpture fashioned from
Ice-aged hands.

Her Victorian façade,
Dressed in cedar shingles,
Were weathered to a rich
Grey in steadfast streams
Of earthy elements; she
Leans to the West, toward her
Inhabitants’ viewpoints,
Contemporary, ancient:
Where summer days would
Conclude, awash in golden
Reflections.

Her skirt, foundation plantings:
Leggy Rhododendron, stalky hydrangea
Whose blooms prefer old wood,
Are stripped away, and lie waiting
In burlap-wrapped bunches.
Tattered hemlines of her stone slip,
Her rudimentary systems,
Pipes, conduits, wires, and
Shards of wood hang like entrails,
Grotesquely, finally resting
With an audible sigh
On six hydraulic lifts,
Steel I beams fashioned
After an Industrial era that
Postdated her and her
Oak and chestnut frame.

Behind her wide-open
Glass eyes, upholstered furniture,
Some with pillows still fluffed,
Await in arrangements suitable
For best conversation. Photographs,
Framed in silver, plates, chipped
And stained are wrapped
In newsprint, screaming headlines
Unthinkable to her original builders.
She awaits patiently on her craftsmen,
Her stylists, her mechanics,
For new, perfectly fashioned shoes,
To break in as she settles down
For something else
To pass her by.

Sold

You can’t take it with you,
This piece of immovable property.
Steadfast and heavy, it has
No handle, no toe hold. Towering,
Cumbersome, unable to be enveloped
In shrink wrap or newspaper,
Packed away, relegated to
Archives; instead, cobwebs
Distance, and fondness. We pass 
Our once intimate space on
To its next occupant,
A few azalea bushes
Richer, our children’s 
Names carved in a sheltering oak, 
Scuff mark from black-soled
Work boots leaking over the
Threshold, a simple piece of metal that
Delineated our sanctity,
Now theirs, from a wilderness
With boundless frontiers.