Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Tag: divorce

In the Moment: A Retrospective

In the hours between the
Dawn melting the stars into its
Warm glass of sky, and
The dusk reigniting them
From burning streaks on the horizon
To the arms of unseen lamplighters,
The day is illuminated by
Some remarkable moments,
Ones I would try to remember to
Share with you, when you
Would stumble through the door,
After dark.

I’d hand you a paper cup
Of chowder, the soup
That warmed my Raynaud’s toes
Somehow from the inside of my belly,
Like I was in a fisherman’s port,
Where the locals knew the secret
To the best creamy broth:
Was it brandy?
You would know.

An older man
At the counter, eating the same
Soup, his with oyster crackers,
Mine with bread, said:
My wife of 60 years preferred bread
With her chowder, too. And she had
Red hair, like yours. He winked at me,
As if I was supposed to know
The code of winking
About chowder, or redheads,
Or bread.
You would know.

Behind the counter there was an
Etching, a print, a woodcut
Of a birch tree, like the one that leans over
Our fields, seemingly fragile,
Providing a foreground, a streak to
Our winter landscape. I longed for the piece,
Which was a medium
You would know.

In the moment, alone, I
Ordered more chowder that I hoped would warm you,
Comfort your own body, where we would relive it all
In a delicious retrospective. We’d sit on the couch
Toe-to-toe where I’d lament all
The details of the day my middle-aged brain
Had forgotten, but somehow,
You would know.

Qu’ils Mangent de la Brioche!

“You can’t have cake!”
Exclaimed my youngest daughter
To my former mother-in-law,
Seated at the dinner table of
My broken home, as I blush
With embarrassment over my
Child’s id-ridden stage
Of development.

I quickly cleared the celebratory
Dishes of my daughter’s setting,
Explaining, as we made way
To one of life’s sweeter rewards, only
Jokingly withheld from tardy guests.
“There’s more for us!”

Even Marie-Antoinette was misunderstood,
While those of a lesser standing –
Peasants whose most deadly sin
Was being born of a situation
Lower than themselves – shrouded their
True human nature. Brioche was
Ordered, by a century-old predecessor:
Bland, basic, nutritional.

My disillusioned guest, now
In a station of sisterhood, whose truth
Lay blended like bitter powders,
A pinch of sugar, stinging salts:
A sweet yin yang swirl
Of ingredients, of human realities,
Concurrently benevolent and cruel.

Fifty-Two Card Pick-Up

“…a game is indeed a clear instance of a process wherein obedience to common rules by elements pursuing different and even conflicting purposes results in overall order.”
-Fredereich August von Hayek

“It is not certain that everything is uncertain.”
-Blaise Pascal

Black suits, smoke, where
There is a red suit, Fire!,
Heralding an unforeseen shower
Of plastic-coated playing cards.

Unfurled, twisting mid-air:
A confusion of butterflies
In transition, in migration,
Suspended in uncertainty.

They fall in a shuffled flutter,
Bent and creased from its
Squeezing projector, in chaos.

Yet each card in perfect design
Symmetrical, rests,
Having lost its mates to
The radiator, the couch cushion,
A rabble of once air born dust clouds.

The deck, useless for solitaire,
Is incomplete, but suitable
For a game of war – or –
As building blocks
For a new house of cards.


Cardboard Bridges

Packing boxes, attempting to
Traverse a wormhole between
One life and another, the transient
Selects wooden, pewter, tarnished silver frames
Showcasing photographs taken over five decades,
Meticulously wraps them in grayish
Sheaths of paper, displacing dust but
Leaving streaked fingerprints on the glass.

Entombed under the matting, a boy embraces
An Egyptian camel, his mother’s neck
And a matchbox car, a red Ford mustang
Convertible in miniature, forming
Concentric circles of memory that ripple over
Years of conjured moments.

The toy itself is now long gone,
Residing in the bin of some unknown
Young recipient, or in a junk yard
In Fresh Kills,
Missing one or all of its tiny rubber wheels,
Its axles bent from countless runs
Down a Hot Wheels plastic ramp and
Over rocks, all-terrain style, fearless
In a city playground.

The camel, even then, seemed unauthentic:
Called Charlie Brown to appeal to American tourists,
He trolled the shadows of the pyramids of Giza.
With piles of garbage lining the entranceways
Of the wondrous monuments,
Steel girders of unfinished Egyptian
Apartment buildings piercing the same smoggy
Sky like antennae, Charlie groaned under
The weight of a Wall Street master.

The boy no longer clutches the neck of his mother,
Now sagging with age and a bowed
Head, struggling with the notion that
The frames could be put to more honest
Use with updated photographs.

Piaget said it best: two objects
Cannot occupy the same space.
Conservation of volume dictates
One old life left behind, displaced
By a new one, carries only stolen momentos
That become immaterial
Or shoved aside to an altogether
Different place in space
And time.