Love, Luck, Memory
The mother held on.
Didn't let the slick-skinned babe go,
when a wall of earth twenty feet tall
moved her house down the hill and into the river.
My friend calls that, Lucky as Jackie's Chanel suit.
Beauty pressed up against disaster.
Sometimes survival comes at a cost unbearable.
Sometimes you slip by like that wrinkly babe
who rode in his mother’s clutch.
His memory like the fog that settled over the river.
I remember things of little practical use,
the baby or the essence of a song about falling
out of love. Not the words or the singer,
just the vague feeling of something out of place.
The quiet outline of a catastrophe.
A hairline fracture that gives one day.
Always that space where something was.
Oso mudslide, Oso Washington - March 22, 2014
you were gold
intimate with choices
and things we never notice
until they leave;
balance, muscle, the absence of pain.
Unaware of the mystery
long inert under your skin.
The mercurial stranger
who slipped smoothly
through your blood,
quietly exposing nerves,
while you lived abundant
burning neon bright.
Who betrayed your body
as you stood stunned
while your pockets were emptied,
as if your losses didn’t matter,
as if you had plenty to spare.
The thrum of the MRI,
fluid pulled from your shocked spine,
hammered you thin as tin
alloyed with leaden questions.
Do you think courage increases
with the sheer force applied to it,
shaped as iron is forged by fire?
Your pulse hums soft
and you are rendered
In my last dream of you
you were running for the exit
shaking your finger in my direction
shouting, It was her fault! She’s crazy!
Last week I stood behind
a precisely composed woman
in the Costco check-out line.
I thought of you, your magnum opus.
I looked down. My shoes were splattered
with paint, not of an artist.
Paint from a plain wall.
I was crazy. I must have been.
Embraced in illusion;
palettes of soft color
washed in want and flattering light.
Until the hot blue shock
of how so much can turn
to nothing. Plaster to dust.
A ball of white paper
crumpled on the snow,
stepped on without notice.
Not even the air inside made a sound.
On a February morning he rises
and fills the auditorium with passion so fierce
it bends his boy body to the shape of lighting.
He rocks forward and back, glasses flash
like satellites, electric blue-black curls bounce.
He pulls Orion’s bow.
We flow and ebb with long liquid notes
then, when dazzled by sparkling spiccato,
he takes aim. His target, that center
of all of us who sense something
otherworldly. We transcend through
the nebulae of this sphere and witness
Evan, thirteen years on this earth,
a rocket, a radiant star rising.
His finish, the tail of a comet,
leaves us stumbling to stand and applaud.
His wing tip shoes of midnight, his ground,
are all that hold his heavenly body down.
Pruning The Maple
My husband trimmed the Japanese maple
yesterday not knowing of the frost today,
this cruel cold.
I think of our daughters;
one storming through the spring
of her last year of middle-school.
The other reluctant to grow,
still sounding out words
while breasts bud under her shirt.
I work to protect them from the cutting,
from loss. I weigh innocence
and measure strength.
It used to be easy to work in the heat.
When the dahlias thrived and the smell
of thyme was abundant.
But someone is different now.
With so little recorded, it’s hard to know who.
I hold my daughters’ hands as I squint into the sun.
My skirt waves wild in the wind
tightens around my thighs, and I know,
it’s me who has changed.
I’ve become the lacey leaf
of the maple, the gnarled center
of the old oak.
He said he’d get a tarp today
to protect the maple from the frost.
To try to avert damage we may have caused
when we thought we were doing the right thing.