you are on the road
so I will not ask
when will you be home –
for the road is your heart
and that heart
is what I love.
is not to be
is not to be
it is, simply,
there is a low flame
that draws us back together-
creators of worlds
sayers of truths.
you have a darkness brushed
I have a lightness
shadowed by demons.
we are two wholes.
you free on the road
me rooted with child.
our love, an understood respect.
creation is our connection.
I write a lengthy list of locations I want to travel to, but know they are only ports of call for purpose of identifying starting points of adventure and introspection. The particular places I truly want to see are the trails and coasts and perfect gems hidden below the sea-
The parrot fish nursery stumbled across when you decide to investigate coral columns on the edge of a hidden cove under the broad sky of a falling afternoon.
Moments never to be found in guidebooks, but that happen by reaching past your comfort and opening yourself to experience. The places people don’t go because it’s an extra day of travel or the campgrounds don’t have a website. Even with IGTV and YouTube tourist celebrities cracking the world open for all who are too timid to leap without someone else’s lead, I believe there are still places left untouched and those are the places for me.
I don’t want to share the names, but will tell the stories that require people of proper mind- should they want to find where I have been- to follow clues I leave. Roads less traveled do not always start from a divergence in a wood, but they do often lead to a quiet place and time to simply be. That experience- to simply be- is what truly makes the difference.
The world no longer feels still underfoot, but an ever undulating place of space and time with limits leveled only by our insecurities and fears. Reach out and find the places the quiet people know.
walking through a bookstore in new york city-
a little apartment- most of a room in new york city
walking through a bookstore-
— I just need to be there
she’ll come when she wants to —
i sleep in a big chair- surrounded by books and travel knickknacks and the window opens to the brooklyn bridge if you stand on tiptoe and crane just so to the right.
i am on a desert that becomes a pier. it’s the middle-east … so many people and children trading what seems to be sand blocks for wares. one boy only accepts food for his wares.
“You are smart,” I say and he smiles.
i walk on the pier that had been the desert.
i see a girl that looks like my daughter- she wears a dress with cherries and walks with wolves. she is younger than today, we lock eyes and I wonder how she’s changed.
tarpon jump in slow motion over the head of a man that stands at the end of the pier. he hooks the tail of the tarpon and they both go into the water- I hope the tarpon pulls free and the man drowns.
an old lady holds an orange house cat. it has had surgery and wears a monocle to protect its healing eye. you can see its brain and the universe through the lens.
the school receptionist, her neck deeply tan and wrinkled, sits on a bench on the pier holding a baby.
— I couldn’t believe it happened, so I’m starting again —
yesterday was easter
I have confetti in my hair
we visited my family cemetery
against the swift breeze
mother put laundry out to air
stories of sisters arguing over land
they may one day reside inside
two uncles laid at my feet
I poured beer on the blanket
of their decomposed toes
why did you pour out your beer,
my child asked
It’s easter and they are thirsty
front porch sitting with coffee and an unnecessary hoodie.
doves coo hellos and instructions to their brood.
jasmine encases the porch columns- early buds seeping the slightest fragrance as a wasp builds its first comb on the front door.
his work will be destroyed in the afternoon.
two days later, jasmine flowers burst open and windows fly open so the scent perfumes the rooms.
and the wasp will find a new place to build.
and a squirrel will frighten her at dawn as she is awoken with a start for someone knocking at the door, but he’s just pulling back a loose piece of wood-
thump- thud- thud-
in desperate search of a new hiding spot for early spring stores.
and the jasmine grows thick til the door cannot be seen. it wraps through the handle and encases the home- days begin to link together in a chain of dawns and dusks that have no system but the rhythm of their hearts start and end the days with imperceptible division.
invisible to the world they eat banana bread made from frozen stores and flour claimed from stolen pecans gathered from the backyard tree. and they drink tea. there is a ration of rice and beans and frozen peas with bits of canned fish. and spring becomes summer- the loquat tree in the alley provides and the crepe myrtle blooms to entertain as they open swollen, low hanging buds into teeny, turning parasols- the higher ones will weep gentle shy tears for the end of the hottest days.
and fall comes and the jasmine falls back … the door cracks open and waifs emerge- stronger for they’ve become free of the world.
Fall leaves drop from grand trees-
Composting at the base of barreled trunks
mixed amongst the snarled roots-
Always to be part of the tree from which they fell
What it was, contributing to what it will become-
Spring’s new growth-
new friends come to fill the tree-
some will be branches that stay-
living in the shared sun and shadows-
always part of the tree’s system
Some will stay with the tree as leaves or small branches
playing a part in the life of the tree-
For a time, seeming indispensable-
One day shedding off-
Adding to the history-
Always part of the tree-
Not always as part of the tree.
Untangling from the person whose body created you-
the person who projects
how they could’ve done better-
how they wanted to be treated-
Telling them, that’s not what I am thinking / feeling / doing.
Even when working to see your child-
stepping back to hear them and give them space-
even when fully accepting them-
still you see how you would’ve or could’ve done differently.
stepping back is so very difficult.
stumbling, apologizing and learning to keep your damn mouth
learning to let them be them.
watch them become bigger.
I just paid for another year of wordpress. I don’t need to pay- there is the free version- but $3/month is such a small price to give to a service that gives me so much. This little space is a canvas for me- an honesty maker and a creative window to share with the world.
What will it share this year? Ideas and stories will be rolled out here by shoveled diligence and fairy wings of inspiration. I was on quite a good pace of frequent posts driven by diligent morning writing, but then fell off about mid-February. I’ve been keeping my journal in very regular fashion and jot thoughts down via voice memo on my phone and post-its at all hours- walking down hallways, sitting at stoplights, waiting for my child to get to the car when I pick her up from her dad’s.
Words come to visit and I capture them with thanks.
Around the corner from my place in Bushwick there was a walk-up Chinese spot. They had a thin noodle lo mein the likes of which I have never found again. In the early months of my pregnancy I ate it about three times a week. I knew I had become a regular when the ever present kids would stay and giggle when I walked up, no longer running to the back of the shop. As I approached the counter, their mom would shout my order to the kitchen and then rhetorically question, “That’s it, yes?,” while ringing up the same $5.34 total each visit brought.
Now I have been back in Austin for over a decade and about a year ago I ventured into a little Chinese take-away spot I had passed for years, never stopping because, “How good could it be?” Silly me, those are always the best places for what you need in comfort food. No pretense- simply offering their food. No need to boast, they are consistent and semi-friendly and close. I have to say, their lo mein isn’t the same as my beloved Bushwick version with its angel hair noodles and slivers of veggies and ginger. Like any past love, none will match it but there will be space in the heart’s memory for new and different love. The new lo mein is chunkier all around, using wide noodles that are not magically light, but more fulfilling in their balance of chew and crunch. The vegetables have a wonderful smokiness, more variety, and there’s always enough for two. It is a new comfort food that I look forward to.
My daughter never got to try my Bushwick lo mein. We went back to find it, but the building that the walk-up counter was tucked into had succumbed to the push of gentrification. An overpriced, metallic apartment building now stands in place of giggling children and summer sidewalk chalk. While that experience can only be shared with her through the romance of memory, I am happy knowing part of her childhood memory will be getting dinner from this new spot. One day, Wok ‘N Express will be part of her cache of stories- her favorite childhood lo mein and how no one else’s will ever be quite the same.
I’ve seen some great videos of penguins being allowed to roam an aquarium that is shuttered because of COVID-19. Those penguins have gotten a taste of freedom. They won’t forget.
Elephants who broke free during China’s lockdown, found napping in a tea garden drunk on corn wine.
Dolphins visiting people on a dock in southern Italy and swans return to the canals of Venice.
Orangoutangs seen washing their hands, as it goes, they are outrageously good at washing their hands.
People have been forced to slow down and the natural world can breathe free in our pause. With that, we are witnessing the world that sits in the shadow of our world.