Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Tag: second chances

Portraiture

Among campily painted portraits
Is our photo, take a few years ago,
A moment, a grain, frozen in
Acids, chemicals, a fixer. The phantom
Women loom large over us, distorted
Somewhat grotesquely and reminiscent
Of discomfort in their oils.

I’m not sure if the collection is
A litany of lost desires, remembrances,
Or a study of the brush strokes, some
Folksy, others more sophisticated,
All portraying perfectly smooth skin,
Protruding lips and out-of-focus eyes.

There we stand, amongst the
Artifice, somewhat true to ourselves.

The grocer told me I hadn’t aged a
Day in fifteen years this morning,
But I corrected him: I have aged 5,475
Of them, some more pleasantly than others.

Some more memorable:
Those that were weighted down like
Leaden grief, others as light as
Sunlit beams of dust;
Most passed unnoticed in the
Monotony of enduring, marked
By one more cup of coffee, one
More walk to the park with a
Canine or another on the end of a leash,
A commute like all the others,
Hanging on the end of a strap.

If our portrait was painted, I suppose
It would be a pointillist one, made up
Of tiny dots, each one marking
The mysterious days we spent
Together, apart, marking
A line on our face, a streak in
Our hair. An Archimboldo perhaps,
A composite of every morsel that
Sustained us, comforted us,
Savored over candlelight
Or wolfed down over the sink
As a baby screamed from his crib.

Not a Cindy Sherman, a Warhol,
Disguised and obscured,
Nor a self-portrait, filtered and
Self-conscious. A candid!
Truer to a Rembrandt, and honest:
A photomosaic that captures
Every moment, a deconstruct.

Because we have aged, and lived, every day;
It’s dying we’d prefer to do just once.

Blink

A decade of experience
Descending the same staircase
Maneuvering toddlers, laundry baskets,
The intention of manually
Juicing a growling boiler
To chase a bitter winter
From children’s bedrooms
Created permanent motor sensory memory,
Imbedded in the muscles
That made electric illumination
A superfluous luxury.

The feet, alone, a podiatric machine
Attached independently to the cerebral cortex
Unaided by the eye. They functioned on
Auto pilot, allowing the remaining
Grey matter to wander to
Unfinished projects, gaining weight
As they approached deadline,
Market lists and their
Corresponding lentil soup recipe,
An impossible holiday in
Reykjavik to see the
Aurora Borealis.

Step six of the twelve,
Assigned to remove deficits
Of character by Higher Power
Showcased, undetected,
A make-your-own destruction
Of sadistic plastic toy bricks.
Cutting into the tender flesh of the arch,
Making it first bloodied,
Later scarred, always proud
The Lego throws the gait to flail,
Steals heels from the going,
Knocks knuckles on the riser
Twists arms, tears intact tricep fibers.

The overridden consciousness
Replaces assignments, supper and
Iceland with a sudden reorganization,
Interruption of a long-welded neuro-pathway
With pain stimuli and solitude and grief.
With as much vulnerability
As any undomesticated animal
Performing rudimentary tasks
Of survival, automatic as any
Human charge of the vie quotidien:
Great risk is taken by making the most
Inconsequential of choices.

Jarred awake on the concrete floor,
Thankful for another chance,
We shake self-pity, loneliness
And with throbbing limbs gratefully rise
Leaving a trail of lopsided bloody footprints
From the stair to boiler.
One trembling hand turns the knob,
Releases the water
And revels in the resulting warmth of
A blue flame.