Earth Crisis

 

“It wasn’t butter it was earth crisis we were eating last night,” says the tall work-study. The work-study philosophizes about life. “The circle of giving keeps giving” he says.

We’re all philosophers.  Breathing into the dusted sepia pages of books, stacked from floor to ceiling in rooms scented with musk and memory.  Sunlight streams from skylights and neglected windows.  Cars whiz by on Laurel Canyon and Magnolia and the Pioneer Chicken on the corner will outlast us all.

I want to be outside but the cigarette smoker exhales feathers of tar toward saltwater.   The ocean cries and the wall of voodoo forms on the horizon, waiting to hug the cliffs and paint everyone in mist.

There is always a choice.  Today it’s between the all-saltwater-roll-your-own and the voices of those that live among the trees.  Voices that echo in canyons, Love me, free me, color me blue, violet, blood orange yellow and pink; a kaleidoscope of light that winds its way up the trunks of trees.

The trees.  The trees plant themselves into hillsides.  The trees push themselves from rock and stone.  The trees, older than the birds thatwhat of the trees perch themselves, wings spread ready to hunt, older than the iron, stone and wood structures built around them, older than the smoking man. And what of the rocks?

The earth shook and a piece of cliff set itself free.  Tumble, bounce, crumble crash.  Particles disperse and morph into another time.

The wind is hollow. The blue jay hunts for food.  I wait.

I don’t move.  I can’t spread my wings until I know I am home.

I can’t find a home and so I pick up my cup of tea, my crumpled packet of Truvia, my bent spoon, my pen, my new red cap and my bottle of Fiji.  Ten years ago I walked along a beach in Fiji. The Fijians have flat feet. They climb the palm trees and drop-thud the coconuts to the ground.  I thought about moving to Fiji.

I’ve moved before. I was young and splintered. I tread water for a long time.

We all tread water, burn ourselves into a blue flame until we suffocate or stroke.  I butterflied my way to a south-facing beach, crawled up on shore, my home strapped to my back.  Sloshed through thick wet sand. Why not let the sea push me into a dream where the sun sets in the North?

Glue me together.

And what of the dirt that I can’t seem to clean from the bottom of my feet?  Is that from a stone that fell hundreds of skies into my South facing ocean?  Lightning striking sand, melted it into long, thin tubes that sucked themselves toward the beginning.  Volcanoes erupted melted rocks. I am stained by my earth.

Today I stepped on a shard of glass.  I didn’t see it, but I felt it.  I had to stop, sit down and pull it out of my toe.  I am ground fine like glass. A window to peer through, a crystal to fill, to drink from and then place under my husband’s foot.   I have left behind pieces of myself, on pillows and in sheets and wrapped in the souls of those I have loved.

A Love Poem

 

Entry October 12

Grey fog hovers low waiting to meet the sun and diffuse into the day  

The colors are rich and dark in the dull light

I don’t look…I remember

I keep my eyes closed

 

I reach my arm across to his side of our bed

I can still feel the warmth of his sleeping body

I can still hear his heavy rhythmic breaths in and out

I can still smell his perfumed musk…a memory on our white sheets

 

I catch my breath in my chest… I hold it there

And I wait…listening to the morning stir

The crying bird outside our window…Is she searching for her mate?

Feeling the nest emptied?

 

I can’t let go and breathe out…let my day begin without him

Without his arms wrapped around me

Without his whispered good morning on my neck

Without his lips brushing against my cheek

How long can I hold this moment and my breath and our memory?

2010

 

 

Scattering Seeds

I unearthed an image.  I was digging through a dream of two high school freshman girls excited, bright, hopeful, best friends, flowers opening to spring showers and sun kisses.

We were standing under the Elm Tree on the corner of Gregory and Peck on an Indian summer Friday, on our way home from school.  Stacey, brown saucer eyes, long arms hanging, distended breastbone, had plans for popularity and I needed to understand.  “I can’t be your friend anymore, I need to be popular” her voice like the hot autumn day, dry, quiet, still.

A gardener, she had scattered seeds. Budding girls dressed in white organza tied in pink and blue ribbons with bows, powder blue suited boyfriend heads peaking in over shoulders, anticipation, round cheeks. Stacey smiling proud, brown saucers, convex breastbone protruding from the bodice of her ruffled dress.

They grew into hearty vines extending beyond her reach even when she was uprooted.

Plucked up by her mother and husband number six, adrift in the gamble of a better life far from their decaying one bathroom apartment on the outskirts of Beverly Hills.

Her garden grew untended. Vines crept along, up the manicured lawns to the high school’s entrance, they gripped the halls, zigzagged in and out of lockers, around metal legs of plastic chairs in classrooms decorated with periodic tables, chalk boards and art projects.  They tangled legs and arms, braided into the hair of girls and boys laughing in yearbook pictures.  They knotted beyond high school, into my summer and winter college breaks, when I would walk to the corner store,

“Hey, aren’t you at UCSD?” a shaggy haired voice calls out, eyes glinting green, pushing closer with a laugh.  “I hear people kill themselves down there”.  Hadn’t we once kissed?  Stealing a moment after school, in eighth grade, behind the double doors of the multi-purpose room. Stacey’s vines had taken root in this boy.

Like an abandoned garden on the side of a deserted farmhouse overrun with sprouted grass and weeds, becomes part of the landscape, unnoticed, the vines kept growing.

Memories fade, decompose, transform, become mulch for a healthy garden.  Till, dig deep, cultivate the earth, offer worms, cut spent blossoms, thin out dead, diseased and damaged stems, pull weeds, fertilize and deep water.  I did all this, on my knees, hot sun beating down, sweat pooling, dripping, fingers earth-digging, clearing, planting new seeds.  We all have gardens to tend.

That ginger moment, under the elm with my best friend, the one I captured and buried, looks different now.  I hadn’t noticed it then; the ripening emerald undergrowth Stacey’s mother had used to swaddle her.

August 1, 2012