Oh, not me. I am always slightly off, tilting just to the left, but then again, I have always preferred asymmetry.
But when you spin for a long enough time, your center finds itself, grounds you, gives you balance. Unless of course, it doesn’t, in which case, you fall.
Yes, I am talking in circles.
I want to be centered, I feel like I should be centered, but this is not my year to be centered. Perhaps I am just not meant to be centered at all.
But that doesn’t mean I am not going to bloom just the same, in my crazy, off-center, off-kilter way.
Bud to blossom, flower to seed, husk to regrowth.
raised from the dead
by an angel’s voice
in a plea to save
my heart cries
too late, too late
my mind sits
in a bowl
like a snake
As a rule, I’m not big on explaining poems, I like to leave them open to the reader’s interpretation, but this one needs some explanation. This past weekend I went to a festival at a local Native American Historic Site. The featured singer, Joanne Shenandoah, in explaining one of her songs, mentioned Wilma Mankiller, and immediately, there was a poem. I know little about Wilma, other than the brief explanation given by Joanne — she was a real person, a great person,
the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
This poem is less about who she was and more about the images her name
immediately evoked. And the photo? Well, other than boosting the
contrast and the saturation, what you see, whatever you see,
is what was there.
If you feel like commenting, I’d be curious to know
what your thoughts are about explaining your poetry.
this post is part of dVerse OpenLinkNight
I will warn you right off that this will probably be a long story. And also, that it will turn out to be a sad story. But write it I must, for my own catharsis, as my own farewell.
He showed up at the back door late one night in April of last year, two days after his brother, Brett, arrived. And I’ll admit it, this was not exactly a case of love at first sight. I was a little wary of George from the beginning, he was semi-feral, half-starved and though this had nothing to do with him, we already had four cats inside. (It was however, a case of name at first sight, he immediately made me think of Crispin Glover’s George McFly from Back to the Future.)
I have always wondered where he was for those two extra days, how he made his way to us, why he seemed so much more wild than his brother. Initially, we made them a shelter to sleep in outside and provided plenty of food. We still hadn’t decided if we would keep them, I mean, six cats, really?
About a week later, George came home one night with some pretty serious injuries. We never did find out exactly what happened, but he had puncture wounds and a hernia. Now we had a decision to make. Of course, the decision was only in our heads (and our wallets) because our hearts already knew what we would do.
Yes, six cats.
The four that we already had were essentially indoor cats, they like to come out with us when we sit in the garden, but we live on a country road, a 55 mph country road, and so, indoor cats. But these new boys, The Outsiders, as my husband would come to call them, were never going to be indoor cats. These kittens were hunters. So we compromised, they would go outside during the day and I would coax them back inside at night.
And so they became my yin and yang kittens, George Porge, Puddin and Pie, The Boys. So much the same, yet so completely different. Brett is just adorable, and the quintessential naughty kitten. He’s very social and active and demanding, especially when he wants his special (canned) food. George was the quiet one, slow and steady, always reserved, always calm, polite, and undemanding. George was special in a way I always found hard to describe, he was intelligent, but he lived in his own little world, always slightly apart from the rest of us, always slightly unaware, or unconcerned, about his surroundings.
Despite those initial reservations, over the past year he worked his way deep into my heart. Proof of this is the fact that he became the only cat allowed to sleep in our bed at night. Besides going outside, it was the only thing he ever asked for. And I couldn’t say no, I just couldn’t.
Slowly, we formed a bond, he learned to let me rub his belly, I learned his habits and that his introversion was not a lack of affection. I am certain now that he loved me, loved all of us, with his whole heart. He would stop in throughout the day for snacks and as soon as he was finished, he would come into my studio and ask to be let out again. He did this funny little canter on his way back to the door that always made me smile.
The only time he was naughty was when we tried to keep him inside, which was only when we went away for a few days. Each time, when we returned, blinds had been shredded, couch cushions were strewn across the floor. George wanted out.
But he never demanded to be fed, never demanded attention. If one of the other cats budged their way into his bowl, he would step aside gracefully. Every time I stepped outside, to get the mail, water my plants, take a break, there would be George, winding himself around my ankles. When I went outside to call him in at night, almost always, he came running.
And when I picked him up to take him in, he always nuzzled his head into my neck, and I always said, “That’s my George.”
Once inside, he would almost immediately go off to sleep, fueling up for the next day’s adventures. If he wasn’t already there when I started getting ready for bed, he would hop up onto the mattress, plopping down in my spot and looking up at me hopefully.
During the past year, at night, we learned to trust each other, in the silence that fell into the space between my head and my feet, where he slept with some part of his body always touching my leg. Maybe just a shoulder, or a paw, but always something.
If I moved in the night, he moved with me, ever polite, simply rearranging himself around my new position.
And each morning he waited for me to wake up. Sitting there as my sentinel, silent, awake, waiting. Not for me to feed him, but for me to let him out the back door. He would come back in later for food. But first, he wanted out.
On Sunday, I let him out the same as every morning. Brett stayed inside to get a snack first, and followed a few minutes later. Just a few minutes after that, my husband and son arrived home from our cabin and found George in the driveway, no longer alive. Brett was siting nearby, he now the sentinel.
Our guess is that George got clipped by a car and managed to make it partway up the driveway before collapsing. He was trying to make his way home.
It was the thing I worried about most. The road was always the first place I checked whenever I couldn’t find my boys, and especially with George, as he always seemed completely unaware of danger. But still, that morning, it was completely unexpected. It was a shock. We all had the wind knocked right out of us.
The three of us spent the day in tears, and that evening my husband placed a stone, on which he had written “Sporty” (his name for George), at the spot where we found him. We decided to inlay it into the gravel. After the three of us did so, my husband and I walked back to sit in the garden. Just a moment later, I thought I heard bagpipes, and I looked at my husband, and we both said, “Is he?….” My son was standing where we had placed the rock, playing Amazing Grace on his iphone, which at first made us totally crack up, but then, of course, made us both burst into tears.
And so, my George is gone. He had a wonderful year filled with love and kindness and adventure, and I don’t think he would have wanted it any other way. Actually, I am certain of it.
He was a sweet soul who was destined to live a short life.
And he lived it in his own special world, in his own funny way.
Always with just one paw extended into ours.
But, damn, he broke my heart.
And I miss him.
all those things
i never asked for
you laid at my feet
that thing i wanted most
(the key to your
you could not offer
where you’d left it
.all those years ago
in your pocket.
this post is part of dVerse OpenLinkNight
and the farewell edition of oneshotwednesday
What I miss:
Summer as a child, days spent reading. I mean entire days.
My son at three, chasing butterflies across the grass,
giggling with the joy of it.
Camping in an old canvas army tent that leaked,
but having fun, just the same.
Being able to eat whatever I wanted and not gaining weight.
Staying up until the wee hours of the morning,
listening to Billie Holiday in the dark.
Almost always being barefoot.
Sharing a bedroom with my sister.
Eating popcorn and drinking Pepsi
while watching Carol Burnett.
Walking to the store to buy a 50-cent-piece-size Sweetart.
Orange coolers. (A milkshake made from Creamsicles.)
Spending days in the cemetery a block from my house, alone.
(I know, I’m weird.)
Still believing that the glass slipper would fit.
Going shopping for school clothes.
A tiny black kitten named Panther.
The tree outside my bedroom window, swaying in the breeze.
Playing jail (hide and seek) in the street at dusk.
Having breakfast for dinner.
A dog named Coby.
Life is so simple. So complicated. So simple.
Yes, I know, I can’t make up my mind. I’m sitting outside with my yin and yang kittens, both exactly the same size, one grey striped, one orange striped, one in my lap, one at my feet, one playful and adventurous, the other shy, quiet, steady.
It’s a sultry summer afternoon, and it’s cooler inside with the air conditioning on, but I want to be outside, sitting here in my jungle that used to be garden, attempting to think about nothing. And so, of course, I think about life.
My friend Mr. Mockingbird comes a-calling, interrupting my reverie to remind me that he has it all figured out. Which makes me smile.
A bumblebee, too damaged or near death to fly, crawls along the stones at my feet, and I am sad for him.
Thunder rumbles somewhere off in the distance and all the flowers in my yard perk their ears up, wishing, hoping, praying for some rain to quench their thirst.
The air is still and my mind is racing. I’ve been here, in this place, before.
How many times have I parked myself here, in this spot, in this very same chair, and listened to this very same bird while lamenting the state of my garden?
Of course, it doesn’t matter.
It only matters that I am here, now, with this hot, humid air laying heavy on my skin, letting life settle in all around me.
The rain may come and wash the dust away. Or not.
Either way I will sit in this place. Listening. Breathing. Sweating.
There is no other place to be.
in a farmer’s field
a day’s work
in the light
Today I am also over at Vision & Verb
with more thoughts on this field of wheat.
Come, join us!
this post is part of one shot poetry wednesday