Monthly Archives: July 2009

late night or early morning

1.
Nobody is home to feed the cat
who purrs in her sleep
on the soft white blanket.
Her whiskers twitch as she dreams
of yarn, of tuna fish, of sunshine.
She’ll jump on her master’s bed
hoping he’s there
but she’ll be alone all night
waiting for him at the foot of the bed.

2.
You should know, you’ve replaced all my memories from the past with memories that include you. I don’t know how that happened. It was like you had turned on a light in my life and I had never even realized was dark before. I was captivated by every part of you. I wanted to change myself to be better, to be more like you. It’s very probable that you didn’t even realize the impact of your actions on me. You left so quickly I never even had time to tell you. I don’t imagine I’ll ever see you again but I know this is how it’s supposed to be.

3.
It’s late in the afternoon on a Saturday and we’re still in our pajamas. You’re sitting on the bed with your glasses on and a serious expression as you read the newspaper. I can’t help but giggle at how serious you seem. You’re never serious. You look up from your paper at me doodling around the edges of a crossword puzzle and ask me what I’m laughing at. I tell you I’m laughing at your face and you throw a pillow at me. I duck under the heavy grey comforter and crawl over to my side of the bed. I grab for my pillow but find that it is already gone and am suddenly pelted with my pillow and two throw pillows. I scramble to grab the ammunition and suddenly we’re both standing there on top of the bed attacking each other. You’re stronger than I am and you knock me down after a while with an especially violent whack. You squish me with the pillow and lay on top of me until I surrender between giggles. My hair sticks up with static and my pajamas are twisted as I crawl back under the comforter. You pull some of the comforter over you and we lay there face to face just smiling and laughing like little kids.

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you’ll smile again

Frail and fragile do not seem to cover just how breakable you are. I’m not simply referring to the fact that a small fall out of bed could crack your bones. As an individual you are so brittle. You keep a picture of your wife, who died two years ago, on the table next to your bed but your eyes are old and cannot see like they once did. Your children, grandchildren, and what few friends you have left keep you company when time allows. It must be terribly hard. You tell stories to anyone who will listen, as you always have, but sometimes the stories in your head seem to be missing pages. You and your wife used to write each other letters when you were in the war and you keep them in a flowery box of hers on the shelf in your closet. I wonder if you would read them all the time if your eyes were better. When I visit I constantly wonder if you’re happy. Sometimes I think you’re ready for death. Ready to be reunited with your wife, brothers, sisters, parents, and friends. Ready to walk without a cane and to get dressed without anyone helping you. Ready to play Bridge and go dancing until the early hours of morning like you used to in Chicago. Until you’re allowed those freedoms again I’ll keep announcing who I am when you don’t see me, I’ll go on walks around the neighborhood with you, and try anything to make you smile.

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heat

1. You’re uncharacteristically excited for everyone to meet this girl. To all of us she is just a girl we’ll awkwardly shake hands with as you introduce us and that we’ll forget when she leaves. We don’t see the ties between you two, the connections formed from the years you’ve spent together. We don’t know that she was the girl you’ve always run to when you had problems you couldn’t handle yourself. She was always there when you were pissed at the world and telling everyone to fuck off, when you were stressed and on the verge of giving up, and when you were so thrilled that you couldn’t sit still. Of this we have no idea. She’s the only person to ever visit you, no one even came out when you moved here, so I guess she’s better than family to you. You smile widely as you show her around and it looks strange on your normally scowling face. You smiled a lot when I first met you but that was a long time ago now. I’m glad someone has returned the light to your eyes.

2. It’s 104 degrees outside and the pavement is hot even in the shade. I go swimming in the pool to feel human again. My bathing suit is too big, or I am too small, and I’m constantly readjusting the striped ties. I flip off the diving board to obtain that squirmy feeling in my stomach and wear goggles so I can watch the bubbles rise around me. I get out of the pool and already feel hot. I fall asleep on my little mermaid towel and wake up feeling hung over. The heat has drained me and I go inside to take a shower like a zombie. I drink copious amounts of iced tea as I lay in my underwear under the fan. I don’t remember what cold feels like.

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Never Again

You were only in the other room but you might as well have been in another country. We’d had a fight and now we seemed millions of miles apart. What was it even about? I can’t remember. It was one of those fights that would seem completely ridiculous to anyone but us. For us, it was significant, and put our relationship on the edge of a cliff. We teetered on that edge with two distinct options. We could come back from this with some effort, I believed, but it seemed as though you only saw the ocean we’d fall to below if a breeze suddenly blew. There had been a lot of yelling, and it had sounded so foreign in our pale blue living room on that cold winter’s night. We hardly ever fought, and this fight was momentous enough to make up for all the absent arguments. You’d wanted to leave, had even packed a bag and put a coat on over the ratty t-shirt and my boxers that you always wore to bed, but the heavy snow outside kept you imprisoned here. You resolved to go into the bedroom and lock the door, leaving me to pace and curse under my breath. I was so upset with you, furious even, over that stupid fight. I had thrown the dishes from dinner in the sink, breaking most of them, and then reenacted the fight in my head over and over again.

Now, several hours later, I can’t even find anger within myself as I slouch against the wall next to the bedroom door. I’m here in hopes that you’ll come out so we can calm down about it all and make up. I guess I’ve never been one for conflicts, I’m more for resolutions. The wood floor is terribly uncomfortable and I’m quite tired, but I’m not going to leave this spot until you open the door. I don’t hear anything from the bedroom and I wonder if you’re crying silently, asleep, or something else entirely. It’s slowly driving me mad. I find a receipt and a pen in my pocket and I draw you a picture of a boy telling a girl he is sorry, that he loves her, and that he doesn’t want to fight anymore. It’s not very good but you used to laugh at the drawings I drew on your birthday cards. I slide it under the door and the creaking of the floor tells me you’ve gone to look at it. I listen closely to figure out what you’ll respond with but the creaking of the floor tells me you’ve moved away from the door. The fight hadn’t been my fault alone but I still felt as though it was my duty to find something to make it up to you. What could I do? My mind was too tired to think of ideas; it was now four in the morning. I lay down on the hard floor and I felt the immense weight of my eyelids. I couldn’t allow myself to fall asleep and sitting here was definitely not helping. I left my post and cleaned up the plates shattered by fury and adrenaline. I cleaned until the sun started to rise from behind the dark trees then made some coffee to keep myself awake. The beeping of the coffee maker sounded loud in the early morning and I wondered what you were doing, what you were feeling, if you had any intention of making up with me, and millions of other questions. I drank the hot coffee at the table fighting exhaustion and put my heavy head on the cool wood.

I pulled my head off the table after what had only felt like a few minutes and checked the clock to discover it was now noon. I jumped out of my chair and ran over to bedroom. The door was open but you were gone. I cursed loudly and sat down on the bed, so angry with myself for falling asleep. If I had just stayed awake a few more hours I would have been able to talk to you and tell you that this whole thing was so stupid. I looked around the room and saw that your stuff was still here so you hadn’t left me completely. I sighed and went back into the kitchen to make more coffee. And there, next to my mug was a note from you. You said you went out for a walk but that you’d be back soon. Relief poured through me as I ran to put on some warmer clothes and my snow boots. I grabbed my keys and raced out the front door and down the steps into the thick snow. My breath made clouds around my head as I ran to the park. I slowed my pace as I saw you in your red wool coat sitting on the cement bench next to the frozen pond. Neither of us said anything or even looked at each other as I sat down next you. We sat there for a very still minute in silence. Then you scooted slightly towards me and I knew that was my cue. I put my arm around your shoulder, kissed the top of your head and said let’s never fight again. You nodded as you leaned up against me and the world sighed in relief.

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Simplicity

The constant heat during the day was exhausting and forced us to plan our adventures at night. As we rode through the neighborhood after the sun had set, the cool night air flowed through our hair and swept through our t-shirts. We were on one of those tandem bicycles that always seemed so cheesy to me, but you were so interested in riding it that I gave in. The streets were dark and mostly silent, with the exception of a few dogs barking and the melodic and rhythmic chirping of crickets. The park around the corner was playing movies every friday of summer and we rode the bike towards it. We peered through the fence to see what movie it was but it was some animated film neither of us recognized. It seemed so cinematic and stereotypical of a small town to have movies playing in the park as we rode on a tandem bicycle and we laughed at this. We rode back to the house and swam in the pool under the full moon until our fingers and toes wrinkled. Then we put on warm clothes and drove to buy donuts at two a.m. when they were still hot from the oven. They tasted like happiness as we sang along to the radio in the quiet night. We ended the night sharing stories and philosophies under the constant hum of the fan.

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Lost and Found

Life was unquestionably safe for Helen and Grace. There was so much they’d been sheltered from and they had some perception of this, but very little. On Sunday afternoon they came back from church and decided to run away while everyone was busy preparing dinner. In their white lacy dresses they skipped to the edge of the forest. They walked deep into the tall trees and didn’t look back so they could understand what the word lost meant and felt like. It was frightening, and every noise made the girls jump and squeeze each others’ hand tighter. Helen didn’t like it and told Grace she was not going any further as tears blurred her eyes. Grace did her best to calm her sister and sang to her as she pulled her along. After what seemed like days they saw sunlight through the trees and hurried to get out of the terrible forest. When the trees were finally behind them they laughed and jumped in delight. After celebrating, they found their way back home by walking around the forest and promised their worried parents that they would never leave again. They appreciated their safe life much more after that and would occasionally walk near the forest to remind themselves how horrible and dark life had seemed. Helen and Grace didn’t mind being safe at all.

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Casual

Emily and Chris climbed to the top of the most stable tower in the orange groves to watch the sunset. They sat there eating popsicles and reading each other the jokes written on their sticky sticks. They’d known each other for so many years now and the history between them was immense. Emily found herself thinking of her favorite days with Chris as the sun dropped lower. She was getting lost in her head, deep in the memories, when Chris snapped his fingers in front of her face. He said she was zoning out on him and Emily laughed. Chris was always the boy who pulled Emily’s hair and she always blushed in response. There will always be a sort of curious flirty awkwardness between them but they’re content with this because they both realize nothing more will ever happen. After the sun set they climbed down from the tower and made their way through the silent trees. Chris jumped out in front of Emily to scare her and she gasped then nearly fell over laughing. Their friendship would always be that simple.

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This is for you

This is not what it looks like.
This is the happiest day of my life.
This is why I’m hot.
This is me.
This is not a pipe.
This is your brain on ecstasy.
This is Halloween.
This is how we do it.
This is the life.
This is what a feminist looks like.
This is not what you think.
This is war.
This is your captain speaking.
This is not what I expected.

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Sigur Rós

This is a poem I wrote about the band Sigur Rós.

Sigur Rós

Secretive,
you’re oh so secretive with your lyrics.
No words can express
these emotions.
Make up your own language.
Sounds of sunny days.
Of rainy days.
Of hope.
Your sounds calm your listeners.
It is so much more than gobbledigook.

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