Aug 27 2015

alone in the forest of grief
{snippets and stories #7}

Because that’s where she felt most alive. When she’d said that to Stuart he snorted a little, not mocking, really, but clearly not understanding. Still, he hadn’t said a word, just walked back down into the cellar, and pretty soon she’d heard the sound of his saw. She knew then he wasn’t thinking about her any longer, he was thinking about getting that shelf finished for old Mrs. Lattimore.

She wished she had a hobby to distract her, or a project. She wished she could read. But her eyes had got so bad in the past few years that mostly all she did was sit in the rocking chair closest to the fire and listen to herself growing old.

Her body was betraying her after all these years, forgetting how to do all the things she’d once taken for granted. But she didn’t feel old on the inside. She still felt young and stupid and naive. And most of the time, she felt scared.

Every day she tried to rock herself a little farther away from this place where she’d lived all her life. She always thought she and Stuart would travel once they retired, but she knew now that she was stuck here, in this house, in this chair, in this creaky old body.

But that never stopped her from going places in her mind. Just this week she’d been to Spain and Paris and even Cuba, following Hemingway around in her mind.

She always ended up right back in her own living room though, staring down at someone else’s gnarled, spotted, wrinkled hands.

But sometimes, when she came back around, she was smiling.





Aug 25 2015

the tunnel is the frame
{snippets and stories #6}

Without the darkness, we would never appreciate the light. At least that’s what you said when you took my hand and pulled me in.

We still had to walk through all those cobwebs though, me holding my breath the whole way and you pretending not to be scared. I heard water dripping and my imagination slithered a little beneath my feet, but I kept heading for the green I could see in the pinprick of light I named Beacon.

Funny how we didn’t make it, you and I, somewhere along the way our paths split apart and there I was, alone in the tunnel of love, up the proverbial creek without a paddle. I had a feeling that you’d planned it that way, planned to leave me in the blackest of shadows so you couldn’t see my eyes when you walked away. I only called your name out once, and when you didn’t answer, I stopped moving, just for a moment. I heard a splash and then silence, and I waited as it settled down around me. I knew it was time to make my own noise, and I guess I forgot to tell you that I’ve never been afraid of the dark.

I walked for an hour and then started singing—a song my father used to sing when I was young, something about a bicycle built for two—and far away, I heard you laughing. Or maybe I heard my own echo, I’m not quite sure.

I made a choice that day, a choice you forced, but I’m the one that made it. I came out of that tunnel with my head held high, refusing to cower.

I always was good at lessons.

Every so often, I think I hear it again, that faint, faded giggle, skittering across the floor. I never think it’s you though, not anymore. I think it’s the string of strength I pulled myself out with, playing cat games with these memories. I think it’s my heart, volunteering to walk through the darkness to find maybe one or two more.






Aug 20 2015

my heart worn smooth
by the shore of your fingers
{snippets and stories #5}

I found another rock the day you planned to leave me, white granite, sharp-edged, palm-sized, set down right in the center of my path like a gift or an offering or a message.

It felt just right in my hand, too, as if it had lived there once, forever, and then been lost. Later, I buried it beneath the pine in the corner of the yard, embedded in a sea of needles.

And even though it was a rock, it took root and grew beneath the surface, became a boulder. I know, because I tried to dig it up once, I spent a day on my knees with a pick and a spade until finally, at dusk, I gave up and filled it all back in, tamping down and spreading smooth the bed of my discomfort.

I slept beneath the stars that night, too tired to move and too silent to care, refusing to listen. The sky whispered lies and the stars held their arms up high like a prayer or a promise or a salutation.

I kept my cheek pressed to the earth, kissing gravity in gratitude for holding me in place, the rock beneath me still warm from the sun of exposure.

In the morning I went inside, boiled water for tea and sat in the chair by the window, already forgetting about rocks and love and heartache, my head filled with dark sparkling stories.




Linking in over at dVersePoets for Open Link Night today, join us!

Aug 18 2015

veins and verities
{snippets and stories #4}

I was thinking the other day about the way you used to mock the girl who fancied herself a writer. (It wasn’t me). And that made me wonder if you ever wrote anything at all, and I guessed the answer to be no.

I’m glad we never run into each other, glad there’s no need to fill awkward silences with pleasantries as we stand on dirty sidewalks. Besides, you wouldn’t recognize me, I’ve become a new person three times since we last met. Just now, I’m becoming another.

I’ve still got that chink in my side and those veins on my legs, but I think I’ve grown a bit taller. My knees are wrinkled and my lips are crinkled and I’m still holding hope like a seed.

I planted the moon a long time ago, watched it vine up the side of one leg. It only ever bloomed in the dark, and I laughed at how quickly we twisted.

You ran away from my laughter and I howled until tears lit my face.

That was my very first garden.





Aug 15 2015

lost and found
{snippets and stories #3}

you must have known how to can dill pickles, but just like your molasses cookies, no one has the recipe.

over the years, those cookies have become legendary, tasting far better in all our minds than they ever did in real life.

it should be an easy thing, to replicate a common recipe, but nothing ever tastes as good as memory.

that’s always the missing ingredient.

you were a little bit hard but your cookies were always soft.

you always had oranges and wintergreen lotion to soothe your tired nurse feet.

all my memories of you smell like starch and nostalgia.

and i always walk away feeling hungry.




Aug 13 2015

straight man
{snippets and stories #2}

“I saw a murder of crows on my way home tonight. They all lived.”

You laughed when I said that, the way you always do when I make a stupid joke, because that’s what you do when you love someone. You laugh, even when you’d rather be sitting outside beneath a sun that always tells the truth. But you can’t hold the sky, no matter how wide your arms open.

So let it go, leave it for the crows. They know how to blend with the shadows and disguise the clouds, they know how to rise above it. They know, too, that even flight is a means to an end, and we all need a nest to rest in.

Laugh. Toss your voice up high and let it fly. And carry me home the way that you do, all strong and silent and compromised.

The stars are falling.




Aug 11 2015

remembering to forget
{snippets and stories #1}

i bend to retrieve the slip of paper you dropped last time you were here, tucked beneath the corner of the bed, forgotten in a sea of dust. it’s a list and it’s nothing but you wrote it:




and i wonder if you remembered all three when you went to the store, or if you forgot the razors, and were you planning to make chicken piccata for dinner?

i can’t remember when it was that you were here. six months ago? eight? i can’t remember the last time you were there, either.

later, after i’d cleaned the floor, swept and mopped and made the bed, i put the list back where i’d found it, just to have one thing that made sense.