29 April 2018

The Balance That Warms

Evening here in the cottage and the ocean lolls quietly up the beach. Dinnerware pushed aside, casements ajar, a glass of tea hanging in the air. A few thoughts on the page before me.

Homemade spaghetti and meatballs warms the belly and the soul. Count it among the blessings to be had on the week. Marinara and “polpette” made by the hands that would carry the bowl and lift the fork. This is the result of the ritual that carried the person through the afternoon. Scoop, dab, roll, put on the rack then into the oven to brown. What the meatballs may miss on delicacy they will make up for in flavor.

Same goes for the the sauce, perhaps. A marinara made partly from memory, partly from instinct, partly from the word of another cook. As it simmers, the aroma rises up in a savory perfume that floods the cottage. The belly knows from experience the sugo will be good.

A highlight of the liturgy, as it were, was the addition of the spice and salt. Oregano, a confetti of red pepper flakes, swirled with a touch of thyme. Heady aroma and deep flavor. This is all good. It invokes a song in the throat.

It was the third forkful going down when the epiphany took hold. Sitting by the open window, breathing of the sea, and swallowing that which by the grace of something these hands had been blessed to make for the nourishment of the body...and the mind. Maybe it was god. Maybe it was the ocean. What is known, is that it was enough.

22 April 2018

Swift on Her Feet, Light on My heart

Emerald pitch, sprinting,
She blooms the tulip poplars
wakes the sleepy heart

15 April 2018

You Are Born of Dark Matter

Notes from the desk. The evening is cool and comfortable here in this cottage by the sea. Something from the archives unearthed this weekend. It would have been better written in ink on scratchy paper, but here it is. A missive written for someone else by someone else (figuratively speaking). It was strangely comforting, and surprisingly illuminatory in perspective for the person who read it today. Text has been altered slightly from the original.

Mothers, fathers, they all know the singular anguish of their offspring crying out in a time of hurt. It is in the bones, the blood, the DNA. We cannot help but feel we must do something, knowing full well that in some events, the pain is not ours to assume but only for the child to endure. It is an unavoidable fact of existence in this universe.

To watch the suffering of a child is a most peculiar pain. The burden is magnified in knowing some of that hurt arises from the interior of the mind. We can see the distress, we can perhaps imagine a bit of it, but we cannot simply find a switch to turn it off.

We grieve for your struggle to cast off a past that has been unkind to your inner peace. Thoughts of unworthiness, of blackness, circling in the mind like hamsters caught in an iron wheel. We see the thorn bushes of anxiety prick and tear at the skin of your soul. We understand and hold our breath, wishing fervently for the thicket to part and for you to stumble free.

On those days when the curtain descends and the voices inside hiss and moan to defame you, slander your self-worth, we have heard you call out. You have shown us your pain. You have told of your fears that you are nothing and undeserving of the kindnesses you have been offered. It is as if gravity itself has reached inside of us all and wrapped our hearts in a crushing grip.

But know this, child. You are not unworthy. You are not unloved. The demons that seek to lead you astray are woefully misguided in their attempts to make you believe such lies. What you face may affect your personhood, but it does not define your personhood. To deal with a mind bent on eating you alive along with a body that rebels against you does not disqualify you from being a human worthy of love.

Never forget that you are loved. You are you, and what you are is beautiful. You are born of dark matter, child, without which the universe cannot exist. Remember too that the universe exists in light.

08 April 2018

Shirt Off His Back

Four-hundred ninety-nine loads of laundry since the divorce. It was the five hundredth that slapped Connor’s face, pulling that goddamned shirt out of the dryer. The warmth of it never like that feel of socks out of the machine on a cold winter day. More like a muted sliver off a branding iron. In all the days since he had been cast out of what he thought was home, the heat and sight of that shirt only increased in the pain it caused. This morning he held the shirt crumpled tight into a ball. Wondering, wondering what to do. He turned to the dog sitting at the kitchen entry. An expectant look crossed its face, as if Connor was holding a favorite treat.

“I should get rid of this, Murph.”

Connor felt a thickening in his throat. His face grew warm. There was wetness in his eyes. Murphy sat up straighter, cocking an ear, waiting. The dog was perplexed by the change in Connor’s voice. The man coughed. Clearing his throat, he spoke again, sliding down the wall to slump onto the floor. Murphy rose and sauntered over to his owner. A graying muzzle craned over to lick Connor’s face.

“Honestly, doggo, this should have been tossed sooner. Can’t fathom why I didn’t. Guess I was too lazy to replace it.”

Connor patted the dog, bunching the short, wiry coat in his trembling hand. Murphy let out a gratified snuffle as he lay his head in Connor’s lap. The man closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall. The shirt cooled in his hand. Echoes of the connection it signified played out in the afternoon light. A gift of a few square feet of cotton growing so heavy on the mind and heart. Truth be known the condition of the shirt was good. It could still be worn. He just couldn’t do it anymore.

He held the shirt up, shaking it out. Blue cotton with stripes, shot through with the freight of memories carried over from a very different time, a very different person. Some ghosts in the weave, Connor swore. And only he knew the locations of the tears that had fallen more than once, from joy once held and despair never to be forgotten. Life and death in a button down wrapper for this human shaped container of sadness and hope. Connor sighed.

“What’ll it be, Murph? Toss it? Give it away?”

The dog lifted his head slightly to peer at Connor through heavy-lidded eyes. It craned its neck to sniff at the shirt. Chuffing quietly, Murphy turned his head away and laid it back down. The man thought he should not read too much into that gesture, but the dog did appear to have made its feelings known in certain terms.

Connor gently lifted Murphy’s head so he could slide over to stand up. He balled up the shirt as he made his way to the trash can. He hesitated after lifting the lid. It could still be donated, an anonymous item among other anonymous items in an anonymous bag dropped off at a local charity. He decided against giving it away. Too much history in that shirt to risk inflicting a curse on an unsuspecting innocent. As silly as it seemed, that thought made the decision for him. Connor threw it into the can more forcefully than he intended. The weight went with it, his shoulders and neck feeling lighter. Stepping over the dog, he went back to folding laundry, and moving on.

01 April 2018

Sleep Well The Heart (A Fragment)

There is no accounting of the sleep for which one yearns. The hours unknown, the effects measurable. To sleep. If only. The ticking of a clockwork heart pushing slow blood through veins become tunnels under a glacier. The whispery rush of it lulls one into drowsiness yet grabs the belt before a fall into the sea of dreams. Hanging there, yearning, anxious. Some night soon, it will come? Enrobed in soothing, dark water with no fear of the deep?

This is the heart’s true dream.