Be Mine

red whirl

Abstract rendering: the inner workings of a joyful heart.

My husband’s words do not flow freely or easily. He is a quiet man. On special occasions like our anniversary or my birthday, he draws flowers and balloons on a folded piece of paper using crayons left over from our son’s childhood.  Somewhere in our house, there’s a secret stash of yellow paper he uses to make his cards. He neatly prints his multi-colored words, because his handwriting is nearly illegible. The word love is always there.

He used to buy me cards — big beautiful Hallmark cards that he took time to examine until he found the one that read closest to how he truly felt. I knew that about him. But, like everything else, cards kept getting more expensive, and we decided that we would rather save pennies where we could, and take a trip somewhere instead. Now, we make our cards for one another.

This is my card to him. A rendering of my happy heart, and love because that is the most important word we will ever need.

A Proper Farewell

Toni, Alison, Me. Canterbury, UK 2013

My friend Alison is gone. In a blink. Like the flutter of a bird’s tiny wing. Suddenly and unexpectedly. I hate that there was no time to say goodbye. It sucks that we have no say in who we lose, and when. Life is hard enough the way it is. We should get to say a proper farewell to the people we love. And Alison was someone I truly loved.

That we met at all was a fluke. That when we did we became friends was as if preordained. I can’t remember whether I first hired her to pick my field or she hired me to pick hers, but that was the beginning. We chatted, because it was what you did on Farm Town. You talked to a total stranger who lived who knows where in the world because you could. In our case it turned out that we were 3300 miles apart with an ocean between us.  We quickly sussed how much we both loved to read ALL THE WORDS in all the books (when we weren’t making art out of imaginary fields on virtual farms, of course). We friended one another on Facebook, and continued to talk over the Farm Town fence where we learned that we each had an only child we were awed by, and who, despite being opposite genders and nearly seven years apart in age, were remarkably similar in their temperament and interests.  How could we not become true friends?

Eventually, we met in real life. I adored her daughter as she loved my son. We were like sisters once separated through no fault of our own,  now found, and reunited. It was happy days again. It was happy days each of the handful of times we got to spend time face-to-face.

Alison had a wicked sense of humor. She was one of the sharpest wits I knew. But she was an introvert like me, and she would go quiet occasionally, when the world was too much for her, and I recognized that tendency in myself. There are times when words are not enough and only the space for silent contemplation will do.

Still, I wish I would have told her how brilliant I thought she was, how much she made me laugh. I wish I would have let her know those naughty (but erudite) words I looked up for writing on her cast when she broke her arm. (rantallion, bescumber, fustylug, stympahlist.) They would have made her laugh. We should tell the people we love that we love them. We shouldn’t take for granted that they will know how much they mean to us unless we do.

I wish I could have thanked her for the years we had as friends. I wish I could tell her how the light is a little dimmer now that she’s not here.

In lieu of the card I did not send

Please accept this poem.
I wrote it with best intentions
a miracle in making, as all things made in earnest are
when thought finds a willing receptacle.

Instead of tidying the house
I spent days searching for words.
Meaningful words that dribbled
agonizingly slow,
or flew above my head
in the manner of teasing birds
whose waggling feathers I snatched
when I could.
(I did not hurt them. I promise.)

I set it before you now
as the welcome mat to my heart,
my wish for your comfort.
Come in. I love you. Let us share in Grace.

Us Walking

The tree behind us is a dogwood. I know that because a man we encountered on one of our walks told us when we asked. Then he offered to take our picture in front of the tree. Afterwards, he handed the phone back to me and said, “I like seeing people in love.”

My Husband Walking
(musings from my notebook)

On his first morning home from the hospital I listen to the sound of my husband walking, bare feet padding determinedly along the floor. I am reassured by the sound of his footsteps tracing a back and forth route from the laundry room at one end of the house to the kitchen at the other. Instructed to walk a mile every day of his convalescence, he is dedicated to the task. He walks the route several times throughout the day.

After a few days his stride picks up, his heels land stronger, with force enough to rattle the small things cluttering the table and the desktop. A few days more and he graduates to walking the driveway. I cannot hear his footsteps outside. I realize I miss the sound.

~~~~~

Weeks before my husband’s surgery, we began walking. We needed the time together, the closeness, the exercise – all of it to be ready for whatever was to come.  Yesterday, the thirteenth day after his surgery, he had the catheter and staples removed. There is still work ahead to get him back to where he was, but I look forward to our renewed walking in the evening again.

Today is our anniversary. Today we have been married for thirty years. It’s impossible to calculate how many miles we’ve accumulated in our walking through all that time. Sometimes, I wonder how we’ve managed such a feat. And then I remember this:

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”    ~~ Antoine de Saint-Expuery 

And I realize that that is the thing that has gotten us to where we are, that looking outward in the same direction. Here’s to us walking, looking outward together for thirty more.

It’s Spring: A Poem and a Light-hearted Lament

A pretty yellow flower that says heralds spring.

Photo of a pretty yellow flower to herald spring.

Spring has well and truly sprung where I live.  The sun beams beatifically while a bellicose wind is determined to huff and puff the few remaining days of March.  In the background, my husband’s chainsaw gnaws through a pile of downed tree limbs — winter’s detritus.

Today is my husband’s birthday.  (Happy birthday, Bob.)

In a couple of days it will be April, which is National Poetry Month.  I love poetry as much as I love spring.  On spring mornings rife with sun, I often think of Wordsworth. Specifically the following:

My Heart Leaps Up

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

I learned this poem many years ago when I was still the Child.  A few years ago, while thinking on Wordsworth, I jotted down a response to My Heart Leaps Up.

My heart despaired when I beheld
A codger in the dell:
So was it that my life began;
Yet here I am without a plan,
Fast closing in on next-to-dead.
Oh, bugger hell!
And I could wish my days to crawl
Before I have to chuck it all.

I must have been in a funky mood when I wrote that ditty.  In my defense, the too swift passing of time has been an obsession with me since I was about eight, and the only way around it is to poke fun of myself, which is what I am doing here.  (Plus, I do love the word codger.)

So, welcome to another spring; to young men’s (and women’s) fancy; to love and poetry.  Welcome, welcome, welcome all!

A Love Song

bob & jordan France 2

Just an old-fashioned love song,
One I’m sure they wrote for you and me.
Just an old-fashioned love song,
Comin’ down in three-part harmony . . .

~~~  Three Dog Night

 

Of all the photos I have ever taken, this one is my favorite:  My husband and our son walking down the street in a French village twenty-two years ago.  They are walking away from me not to go anywhere in particular, but to allow me to record how astonishingly narrow the street is, using them as a measure.

I don’t remember where this was specifically.  Somewhere in the Provence area.  We had rented a car and were driving around to various places we’d pinpointed on a map.  A guide book I read mentioned a villa outside this village that Picasso may (or may not) have lived in for a short time.  We thought it would be fun to say we saw where Picasso may (or may not) have lived.  It was the first trip we’d taken where we needed passports.  We were giddy with excitement.

Thanks to the digital services of online places like Zazzle, this photo now adorns the case on my cell phone, as well as cheering me from a mug as I enjoy a cup of tea.  I bought three mugs bearing this photo, one for each of us.  To remind us.

We are a love song.  The three-part harmony.  The Boy and his Dad striding step by step along side of one another, me capturing the joy of a free and easy moment to carry us through life’s rough patches.  For me, the thought of that is all the Valentine I will ever need.

 

What the Heart Wants

stone heart 2

“The heart wants what it wants . . . .”

     ~ Emily Dickinson


The heart wants blood & proper plumbing
valves
un-clogged arteries
electricity thrumming
a steady rhythm.

It’s a muscle
after all
little mouse of soft tissue
no bigger than a fist
wanting us to eschew
the fat
to move ourselves
in vigorous exercise
to breath deeply
of clean air.

A heart cannot live
on metaphors
that speak 
of love
and longing
words best left
to poets
& to time.

Until a tiny thing trips you up (Flash Fiction)

 

London Eye pm 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a mother in possession of a young child must be in want of a crystal ball.

She wasn’t afraid of anything: Smoldering fire; hail storms of passion; blood-sucking leeches, reeking of desire.  Bring it on.  Her hobnailed boots were made for stomping, and she could dance, by god.  She could move.  She could run long and fast and still have breath enough to laugh in the face of all that friction.  Drive a truck with her old life across country toward her future?  Piece of cake.

She, and the man she knew would never try to change her, made a new life in a place where people lived on fried dough and clams.  A baby arrived one winter morning weighing less than the four-layer fudge cake she was planning for her birthday later; a clear-eyed boy careening headlong into the world so furiously that he took her breath away.

But time is a forward moving thing that cares for no one.  It will not pause for one second, no matter how nicely you ask.  She learned this on a ferris wheel as her child laughed between her husband and herself. The wheel lurched forward and backward, filling and emptying, still moving ever upward, and then slowly around and down, where she asked to be let out.  She walked away and watched as the wheel rolled upwards carrying her heart.

She pictured the wheel collapsing, sending the cars flying through the air, saw her husband and her child (who still believed she could make monsters disappear) hurtling downward while she had chosen to save herself.  She could do nothing to stop the inevitable.  Hobnail boots were useless.

She knew that all she had was now.

 


 

Written for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Flash Fiction.  296 painstakingly sculpted words.  The limit was 300.  As is usually the case, I chose the photograph first and let it tell me the story.  Apologies to Jane Austin for the bastardized version of her opening sentence in Pride and Prejudice.

Ring-a-ding-ding

bell pm

Ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring, happy bells, across the snow
The year is going, let him go
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

 Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This was my personal note from The Universe today:

I want you to know, Mary, that I’ve ordered up another year for you.Think I’ll call it 2014.

I’m going to put most of the same people from 2013 in it, since you all think so much alike. But there’ll also be a few new, very cool cats coming to play – give them some time to grow up though.

And I’m going to have things start off pretty much exactly where they left off in 2013, for continuity’s sake. Flips folks out too much when I don’t.

All in all, 365 more days in paradise… and only one request of you:

DREAM BIGGER.

Coolio?

Let’s do this,
The Universe

Dream bigger.  That sounds good to me.  I like that I get my own little note every day from The Universe.  I wake up to them and they always make me smile.  It’s like getting a text from a friend every morning that says, Wake-y, wake-y, you gorgeous creature, you! And you have to believe it, because a friend like that would never lie to you.

Notes from the Universe is just one of the oh-so-many interesting things I discovered through the internet this year.  There are blogs out there, writers who lift me up or break my heart with their words, music–OMG!–the music being played, spoken word poetry, photography, art.  I feel like I spent most of the year in a chair.  Only to discover (on the internet) that sitting too much will make you die.

So it goes.

Last December 31st I blogged about choosing a word for the new year.  One word that I would keep as a source of inspiration, to think on when I needed it. I chose, RISE.  I like how that worked out for me.  This year I’ll take the word DARE along for the ride.

I have big plans for 2014.  There are adventures waiting for me.  After a full and satisfying year of blogging, and discovering kindred spirits, I am going to take a break from all things internet-related in order to write.  Non-stop, seat-of-my-pants, finish-my-damn-book writing.  It’s time.  Look for me in about a month.

Before I go, though, I want to add my voice to the happy throng wishing friends and family well. May 2014 be your best New Year ever.

Cheers and love, people.  Always, the love.

While my heart gently sings

The Boy is home.  Which is, in itself, a joyous event, but he is also playing the piano in the den.  The sun is bright, near-white from the frigid air outside, but slanting through the window it brings in only warmth that spills across the room. The music rides the sun’s coattails and radiates through the entire house.

What more could one wish for in life than this?

The boy plays, my heart sings. . . .

The Boy plays, and my heart sings. . . .

We are all contributing to the meal today.  My husband is doing the mashed potatoes because no one mashes potatoes like him.  The Boy is giving us his version of mac-n-cheese.  I’m doing the roast and the vegetables.  I’ve made brownies for dessert, extra dark and extra fudgey.   It’s all about easy-peasy today.  And togetherness.

There are no pilgrim hats or cornucopias overflowing with fruit on our table.  I didn’t make a pie.  We are a small group, the three of us, and we are not big eaters.  This year we’re shooting for something more intangible than mountains of food.  Something to fill our spirits rather than our bellies (though our bellies will do well enough). The cherry on the top of our day will be when we settle in to our comfy living room later and listen while the Boy reads aloud the last 50 or so pages of Fahrenheit 451 because I haven’t managed to finish reading it yet, and it’s time.  It is most definitely time.

Oh, that we were all wealthy in love and good will.  That everyone could be kind.  For the wonderful people I am blessed to love and care about (and there are a LOT of you out there) I wish you all that and more.  I wish you peace and gratitude wherever you may be.  Here’s to filling your souls to overflowing.

Because it’s time.