Archive for the Meanderings Category

The Cicadas Are Singing

Posted in Meanderings, Prose on June 15, 2021 by 1writegirl

It’s mid-June in Baltimore. My father meets me at the Light Rail stop in his little white Yaris. The air is humming with the sound of insects, I’m dripping with sweat and off in the distance I hear the crack of thunder. I haven’t slept in over 24 hours but at this moment I don’t feel tired. At this moment, after more than a year of forced confinement and brittle isolation, I feel like I’ve just opened my lungs after holding my breath for as long as I possibly could.

Over the next ten days I read a lot, de-clutter my email inbox, and accompany my brother on a few local errands. I walk when the weather allows – it’s hot and humid or pouring rain for the most part – and enjoy being cooked for each evening. With the exception of one meal which my father allows me to fix, he insists on doing the cooking. I want to say “Let me do it,” to give him a break, but it is clearly something he enjoys doing, and I remind myself that loving someone isn’t expressed solely by taking care of them; it can be an act of love to allow them to take care of you, too. At night, after Dad goes to bed, I take the opportunity to catch up with my brother about anything that he hasn’t mentioned in our regular Skype chats. 

Mostly, though, I talk with my father. He looks exactly the same as he did the last time I saw him, right before the pandemic took hold of our nation. He’s 91 now and while he’s in excellent health both physically and mentally, with more stamina and range of activities than many people twenty years his junior, nobody needs to tell me how tenuous a hold any of us has on life. I am mindful, every minute of every hour of every day that I’m here, how precious this time is. How it could be the last I ever have with either one of these people who mean so much to me.

I rise earlier than usual each morning, and since my brother is a late sleeper, my father and I have the house to ourselves. As an introvert living alone, I’m used to talking to other people infrequently. Entire days pass by at home during which, if I talk at all, it’s to myself. I used to think that meant I was going crazy, especially in the immediate aftermath of Jackson’s death. Now I don’t think about it one way or another, or even care. 

We talk about many different things, past, present and future. In short bursts we share news, memories, plans and thoughts. Mostly thoughts. I used to hold back with him, afraid to disagree or stir up conflict. I have always avoided conflict, though I’m slowly learning that sometimes it should not be avoided. Sometimes it’s important to face it. I also used to be afraid of incurring his disapproval. Like most people, I grew up wanting and needing my parents’ approval and the times I didn’t get it, I blamed myself. Later in life I blamed them. Even later, I stopped seeking it. That, I think, is one of the most freeing feelings there is, to look inward rather than outward for assessment of what, why and how you are doing with your life. To be the decider of if it’s enough, if it’s healthy, focused, successful or right. My father and I seem comfortable with each other these days, accepting of who we each are and not trying to change the other, but it’s taken most of my life to get here. Perhaps as a result, I listen with a different ear now, trying to hold on to everything whether I agree or not, like it or not. I want to remember everything, because when he’s gone I will need these memories to sustain me. My well feels dangerously shallow of late.

At night I sleep with the windows open, though the house has central air conditioning that comes on when the temperature rises above 80 degrees. I like the smell and feel of the fresh air, but there’s another, even more primal reason I do this. Right now Baltimore is replete with cicadas. They fly through the air in singles, pairs and swarms, landing on any available surface. Birds and squirrels feast on them. People flick them off their shoulders and arms, step on them, swat them away or even run from them. In thickly wooded areas, their roar is all you can hear. I read of clever ways creative chefs have come up with to integrate them in recipes. I overhear some people bemoaning their existence, impatient for them to be gone. 

I lie in bed and think back to seventeen years ago when they last appeared, then to seventeen years before that, and finally to seventeen years before that. I remember what I was doing, where and with whom on each occasion for those few weeks, though the pictures get fainter with each leap backwards. I am overwhelmed with tenderness for the people I see there, then sorrow for those who are now gone forever: my mother, my grandparents, my son. But I’m filled with something else too. An army of insect nymphs lays hibernating in the earth for precisely seventeen years then bursts forth en masse into the atmosphere to pack as much living as possible into a few brief weeks before dying. Seventeen years later another generation does the same, and again and again and again this precise and complex wonder repeats itself. If this isn’t a reason for hope, I don’t know what is. 

Listening to them is like listening to a disorganized but passionate chorus, every voice competing to be heard, loud and sweet and discordant all at once. I lie there and take it all in, feel what I feel, know what I know and accept what I don’t, which is so very much more than what I do. Perhaps I’ll hear this familiar sound again seventeen years from now, or perhaps this is my last time. In either case, I won’t be here, with two of the people I love most in the world. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and bookmark this moment in my life.

An Honest Conversation

Posted in Meanderings, Poetry with tags , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by 1writegirl

Sexual healing
Heat exchange

No need for words
Silent trust

Changing nothing
That’s been said
Replacing nothing
Missing

Natural
Comforting
Easy

In a world
Desperately
Lacking

Independent
Of thought
A fleeting
Reprieve

An honest conversation
Between two bodies

One By One

Posted in Meanderings, Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by 1writegirl

One by one
I pull them out
Write them down

Dissect them

My fears that keep me
Prisoner

Some petty
Some deep seeded
Some uglier than others

Some caked in blood
Forty years old

Some small
I fear I’ll get a cavity
And not have the money
To fill it

Closest to the surface
Easiest to find

Some large
Not wanting
To see the light of day

I fear I’m not worth loving
If the one I want
Doesn’t want me

All of them need
Recognition

It’s slow
Tedious
Painful
Exhausting

They resist
They come out
Kicking and screaming
Comfortable
In their darkness
In my denial

They rejoice
In quietly
Consuming me
Like disease in a
Passive host

But I dig them out
One by one
And let them crawl
All over me
Call them by name
So I can see them
For what they really are
From whence they came

My only chance
At dissolution

My only chance
To find my
Peace
Within
Rather than without

To release them of
Their power over me
And set them free
Free to go

One by one

My First “Public Appearance”

Posted in Meanderings, Poetry, Prose with tags , , on July 19, 2009 by 1writegirl

This evening I’ll put on my best dress, paint a smile on my face, and head downtown to Linnaea’s Café where, at 7 o’clock on the third Sunday of every month, they hold poetry readings, open to the public. I’ll put my name on the sign-up sheet and an hour or more later when it’s called, I’ll stand up at the front of the room and recite into the microphone, in the space of five minutes or less and in as steady a voice as I can muster, one or more of my so-called poems. I say so-called because while I feel confident that I’m a good writer, writing poetry doesn’t come naturally to me like it does to other people I know; I have to work hard to create a poem I consider “worthy.” But what the hell, huh? It’s all part of the “writer” experience, or so I hear… (read?)

Bindo and Bacall

Posted in Meanderings with tags , , , , , , , on January 17, 2009 by 1writegirl

You ask what romance means to me, and the answer comes easily enough if I close my eyes and remove the artifacts of personal experience. I am a throwback to a bygone era, a Bacall kind of girl, who responds to penetrating glances, crooked smiles and confidential winks. I would tear open a long box tied with a ribbon to find a dozen perfect, white lillies wrapped in tissue paper. I would dine with you in a continental restaurant late at night, at a corner table, dimly lit, so close to you our knees touched beneath the tablecloth and the feel of your fabric against my bare skin, tantalizing, caused my heart to beat faster than even the wine could mitigate.

I would walk with you in the warm rain; feed you chocolates, the ones you had given to me, while watching old re-runs of The Avengers; waltz across a dance floor held tightly in your arms; and hold my breath in anticipation as you whisked me away for the weekend to I knew not where. You would ask me to marry you and slip a ring on my finger before my eyes returned to size, before I could catch my breath, before I could find my voice, Yes!, and believe it all to be real.

When I rely instead on memory, or the teasing, fleeting promise of it, what I see is you gazing at me with one raised eyebrow. I feel your hands cradling my face as you lean in to kiss me so slowly, so softly, our breath is one. You play a song for me on the guitar, and once in awhile, you even write one for me. On a regular basis, you speak of me in poems that you share with the world. Your fingers graze mine as we curl up on the couch to watch a movie, and my breath comes faster as I anticipate what is to come, later. At two in the morning, when neither of us can sleep, we whisper and laugh like two carefree teenagers, limbs sprawling, intertwined, beneath soft, warm cotton. You bring me coffee in bed; you envelope and guard my dreams, secrets, and silly fantasies; you cook me eggs benedict. You confide in me, champion me, trust me, and believe in me. You would take me home to Mother.

My son adores you. He seeks you out, his face lights up when you smile at him, and he glories in your approval. My son, who is not trusting of grown men, has allowed himself to be himself with you, without fear of repercussion, disaster, or abandonment.

My dog deems you alpha.

You, my love, are what romance means to me.

November 17th, 2008

Posted in Meanderings with tags , , , , on November 17, 2008 by 1writegirl

 

My inbox remains empty. My phone is silent.

I cannot will you into these places,

though god knows I’ve been trying.

 

I am certain of very little in this world.

 

So I try to be honest with myself and others

hoping at least for a connection now and again,

however tenuous, however frayed and timid.

 

We all need someone to call our own.

 

We accomplish weeks of therapy in mere minutes together,

you and I. You have undone knots, months in the making,

without ever even touching me.

 

I imagine what miracles your hands might enact.

 

I might become a child again were we to have a month.

Who knows what years would do…return me to a state

of eager, hopeful, uninhibited innocence?

 

I like to think I might have given you something in return;

that I might continue to give.

 

Yet a kiss on the cheek does not a suitor make.

 

And fear is not exclusively my domain.