Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

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.

Penultimate Euphemism

When the Sonne shineth
Make Hay,  Whiche is to
Say,
Take Time When time
Cometh, lest time steale
Away.

John Heywood, A Dialogue Conteining the Number in Effect of all the Proverbs in the English Tongue, 1546

We’re burning daylight here,
When we should be making hay.
Why linger, lolly gag, dilly dally
Dwindle, piddle, procrastinate
Twiddle thumbs or amble along,
Tarry away, while away,
Take our sweet time while it burns?

We’re only here for a short visit,
Anyway, and opportunity
Is knocking loudly on the door,
Behind which the fat lady
Is warming up, trilling her
Scales, which are at a
Tipping point.

Can’t fritter away, vegetate,
Cogitate, kill time, horse around
On this boondoggle; time is ticking,
But that is that. It’s curtains for all
Of us, a done deal. The checkered
Flag is waving. We’ve saved up to
Buy the farm, a one way ticket,
Biting the dust on a permanent
Vacation. Elvis just left the building,
Dropped the mic, and
Is kicking a can, a bucket
To meet his maker and take a long
Nap with the fishes. He cashed in
His winnings, and is growing daisies
Now, retired. It’s past sunset.

We’re not ready to ring down the curtain,
Join the choir invisible;
We haven’t come to Jesus, on the other side.
Alas, just as sure as taxes,
We’re doing it,
And as we only have one,
We might as well
Get down to it.


 

Obsolescence 

The apron, threadbare,
A wilted floral cotton
Piped in a zig zag, ric-rac
With an all-encompassing
Bib, a gathered skirt,
Belonged to a phantom
Woman, her shed skin
Hanging from a hook.

The strings were wrung to
A weakened thread, perhaps
Pawed by an impatient kitten,
Twiddled between a
School child’s fingers,
Barefoot and dependent,
Who, judging from the stain
At the waist,
Must have wiped
Purple blueberry filling
From the corners of
Her talkative mouth.

Perhaps she helped roll out the dough
Grew bored, and tired,
And retreated to the floor,
Next to the cat. Those once
Able, thick ties would take years
Of patience to unravel,
The knots connecting
A piece of vintage
Domesticity to history,
And this empty house.