A creation of expression
A belief portrayed
A thought delayed
A demand dilated
A memory unwound
A dream interpreted
An emotion unbound
Freedom from silence
Spoken with ease
The beauty of one mind
Brought the world to it's knees
Wandering on Edge of Life
Whet thy whistle and cherish
soft peaks of life
swing from frayed ropes
dangle from hot tin roofs
tap wild bare feet
Whet thy whistle and savor
horses trotting on old brick roads
black eyed sunflowers bending
spirits hiding in gray mist
rushing wind on blushed ears
Whet thy whistle and witness
feverish tracks of strewn rocks
fingers rustling on silken grass
fingernail moons and froggy leaps
sun dances in waving winds
Whet thy whistle and listen
warm breeze piping
wetness whispers of wind
waving palms mid azure skies
thousands of tales murmuring
WANDER AT THE EDGE OF LIFE WITH EARTH AT YOUR FEET
The Broken Bits
We are all broken. Some see it and start the mending process. Others chip away at the broken bits until they are completely shattered.
She had been trying for years. She told herself. Told others.
It's a process. One she thought of beginning.
She read about it. Listened with intent.
Her rut deepened and darkened. Years of trying covered her soul with tread smelling of burnt rubber. She had not moved.
Trying, it came to her, was a way of telling yourself and those around you that you had the intent but that you knew all around you'd never budge. In trying, she enslaved her life rooted down with the warm comfort of not failing.
Then a time comes when a red line was crossed. A straw broke her paralysis. And without giving thought to where she was going, she leaped away from the staleness to the clear blue new.
It was not a process. It never is. It was a breaking point.
All the Broken Things
Mamma always told me that I wore my pain like I wore my clothes, form-fitted and too close to the skin. The melancholy always clung in layers across my ribs and at the corners of my mouth, my eyes reflecting the knives that had skewered me through.
She would preach for me to swallow those bitter pills. "No one will love a sad, broken girl," she'd say as she handed me the needle. And I'd stitch wounds and powder scars until I was the perfect illusion of whole. But the stones thrown always found their way back home, chipping armor and weakening my bones.
And I would crack.
Participation is a Choice
Life doesn’t care if you come out and play.
Life goes on time moves with or without you.
If you think there is nothing to live for you lose one day at a time you’ll never get back.
You’ll still get old and the world will go on changing
making you as insignificant as you’ve convinced yourself life is.
You can choose to lose winning nothing
or get up and take a chance
you still might lose
in that lost
at least you’ll find meaning.
Solitary Main Street
from fat & form,
air & sky,
shores & sea …
Stop & go,
fast & slow,
in little homes,
nests & trees …
Lock & block,
doors & slots,
holes & gaps,
slits & flaps …
Love & hate,
friends & foes,
fans & beaus,
safe from life.
He loved feeding her. Enjoyed seeing her balloon before his eyes. Knowing she loved eating. Inhaling pizza. Like creating a sculpture. Meatballs went to her thighs. Donuts made her belly hang low. Chocolates made her breast bulge, nipples fat and pliant. Her mouth open. Eyes looking up expedient. Now that she could not walk, she was all his. All of her for him alone.
He loved feeding her.
Who am I
Life chronicled on four by six pieces of paper was tucked away neatly in envelops inside the end table drawer next to her bed. Upon waking, she knew who she was and where the photographs slept. Challenging herself to mentally conjure the images of her family without peeking, she was happy to find her seven sisters striking poses behind her eyes. Toothy grins blowing candles, parades of mini skirts, floral pedal pushers, red keds and white go go boots, even Jax the tabby appeared, but it was her parent's long gone comforting faces she was searching for, and they wouldn't come. Driving rain hit the window across the room, gesturing an interruption to her trial of forgetfulness. Absent mindedly plunged, the images left her and so did the knowledge of their existence. For now. Like the tide, they would all be back, she would hope, but hope was not necessary if she wasn't aware of them slipping away. Sliding under the covers, the warmth caressed her, sending her unthinking mind to a protective, hollow, dark space; womb-like, before her first breath. The bliss of uncounted time passed, until the disappointment of a single thought came back to her, signaling that it was time to rise. Easing her aged bones away from the comfort of the memory foam and down, there was no direction. Standing alone in space, sighted and blind, there was no family, no death, no thought; just the intrinsic reckoning of existence.
“What day of the week is it? What's your name again? What's my social security number?” A doctor did not have to confirm it, she knew the onset of Alzheimer's by first hand examination, while watching her mother’s slow horrifying decline. Yet there was also a dignity witnessed, a careful practical preparation before an advanced stage, and Maggie had vowed to the same should the time come for her to face the same reality. And then it knocked on her door and she really didn't want to answer, but the intruder was coming in whether she resisted or not. Still standing in the same spot, she began to shuffle one foot in front of the other across the knotty pine without knowing where she was going. The brown suede easy chair next to the window invited her to come sit, in the same way it had always invited her mother. Maggie couldn't part with the old chair, patting the stained arm rest as if it was a grieving friend. Perhaps it was the worn seat that triggered Maggie back. Could it have been the ghost of her mother's embrace sending visual whispers? Or was it the solitude beckoning an awakening through simple meditation? Either or both, all that mattered was the communion she felt with her mother’s aura as she sat. If the essence of lavender was an aromatic hallucination, she didn't care. They sat together, two souls, one body, one waning mind, partially accepting defeat. But she took solace in knowing she had also partly passed a test. Without picture peeking, Mommy had come to her lucidly, in all her radiant beauty, smiling through her whimsically curled lips; the same familial feature that Maggie carried throughout her day.
In the overcast room she decided she had no time to feel sad over remembering what was gone. Remembering would not be a squandered gift. As the memories bombarded her, she remained jubilant, even when the floodgate opened her thoughts up to the end days. Near death, her mother’s smile was as genuine and enchanting as it had always been, a work of art, even without the muscle control. All eight Iovino sisters, and some of their children took turns holding the matriarch's fragile liver spotted arthritic hands, stroking the strands of red turned gray hair at her temples, forehead, and crown, even when she saw them as strangers. Maggie was there for the final breath, lifting her mother's lifeless right hand to her bequeathed lips; sowing a parting kiss. Although she let her own tears flow, she also stepped up to higher ground, comforting her siblings unboundedly, becoming the soft place for all of them to fall. In their individual solitude, the reality pecked at each of them, one by one, all eight of them began a waiting game, defying worry, bravely, silently, wondering, when? “Me too?” Maggie would become the first to honor her mother's unfortunate legacy; she would not speak of or accept the harsh cold truth until she had to, blissfully in denial, as long as she could function independently. “Why make them worry? I can do this, at least I can, until I can't.”
The test was complete when her strikingly handsome father’s face also came into focus. It was hard for anyone to conjure an image of her father without his adoring wife by his side. His daughters were blessed with the daily visual of a man's love for a woman, stealing kisses from his wife at the dinner table nightly, openly, as if she was part of the menu, confronted in the early years with “yucks” and “ewws” from his coleen offspring. As a proprietary orthodontist, Daddy wasn't home much, but he managed to break away to eat a meal with his gaggle of girls, place sets for ten, even if he had to run back to work afterwards. There was no shortage of love in their happy home and kisses flew around their abode as freely as the dust. If their father had wanted at boy, he never said so, and none of his daughters ever suspected they were one of eight due to his explicit intent of fathering a son. He died fairly young; cancer, the constant radiation suspected as the cause, but until his last breath he loved all of his girls deeply, admittedly so, none more than his red headed Irelander beautiful wife. Maggie was the only daughter that loved to go fishing with him on his day off. More than trout, it was her father's wisdom she caught, but she knew that wisdom, her mind, was slipping away. “Daddy I love you and I miss you so much. Daddy I'm scared.” If he could have broken through, he would have. There was nothing he wouldn't do for any of his girls.
Before she was symptomatic, following her mother’s death, Maggie had occasionally wondered if her husband divorced her to avoid the possibility of being her nurse at some point in their future, and she occasionally wondered if she never dated after the divorce to avoid that possibility for a future unknown somebody. After the initial shock of betrayal, she picked herself up, walking briskly, daily, on the nature trails close to her modest home with her Welch Terrier, Winston, without thoughts of loneliness. Like a typical terrier, Winston liked to break free off leash, and even though it was against the park rules, she reveled in the freedom she afforded him. He always came back to her, sometimes roughed up by jumping steadfastly through the bramble, having been chased by another mischievous dog. The aggravation of parasites, countless ticks and once or twice fleas, would never keep them from their clandestine crusades. Fleas were more dreaded than ticks, but she'd treat Winston with product, wash all the bedding on the hottest setting, vacuum vacuum vacuum like a mad woman, bombing with chemicals if need be, whistling while she worked. Looking down at Winston she'd speak to him as an equal, as if he understood, “Freedom comes with a price, but you only live once.” And she'd let him off the leash again again again, whenever the mood would strike until he was too old to run and then sadly he passed away. In a way she was relieved by his death, since she no longer had to worry about who would take care of Winston, keenly aware she was in an early stage.
“It is time!” Maggie heard clearly in her half in half out state.
“Who's there!” She hollered at the colorless walls, and she gripped the armrests of the chair like an anxious driver's steering wheel.
“Don’t tell me my darling child that you have forgotten my voice."
"Mommy. Is that you? Daddy?" Maggie could not determine with any certainty the speaker’s identity, in spite of that, she felt a deep connection and an authenticity in the voice, responding with curious unguarded attention. "Have I forgotten your voice? Am I dreaming? Or please tell me if I have gone completely mad?"
"Dear dear Maggie, is that fear I hear in your voice? It pains me to know you have been alone for so long, and it is understandable to be afraid, especially with the challenge you face, but fear no more my darling, because you will see me again before you know it. There will be a period of darkness but in its own way it will be sublime. Haven't you already felt the comfort? The peace of no thought? There will be no loss, no grief, no pain, no worry. What you fear is the unknown, but move into it fearlessly in faith knowing that I am with you and you will feel my embrace. Did you understand what I meant when I said it is time?”
“Do you mean time to make arrangements? Time to ask for help?”
“Yes my love. It is abundantly clear. Do not wait another day, another hour. Although life for you may seem bleak, someday there will be nothing but peace, comfort and love. Of this you can be sure.”
Maggie rose from the chair with conviction. All of her sister's had offered for her to come live with them, without mentioning the A word, but it was her niece Leslie, her godchild, that she decided to call. Besides the namesake, red hair and gentle loving nature, Leslie, seemed to have stepped out of her grandmother's grave even down to the same pigeon toed feet.
“Hi Leslie, it's Aunt Maggie.” Leslie already knew who it was from the caller id and she'd know her aunt's voice without it. “Remember we spoke about the assisted living complex near your house? Would you be able to check into availability for me? It's time for me to give up my own place.”
Leslie asked no questions. “Of course Aunt Maggie! No problem. I'm so excited you want to live near me.”
“But I'll have to sell my house and pack up all my stuff first . Oh dear!”
“Don't worry Aunt Maggie. We will get it done!” And they did. When Maggie's friends from church and the woman's group found out about her quest, many of them pitched in. A couple of the sisters trekked over to do the major work with their husbands and sons. What wasn't tossed was either packed or picked up by Goodwill. Three months from that phone call with Leslie, with help from family and friends, Maggie was on her way.
“It will be great,” said Leslie through her whimsical smile on their last phone call before Maggie left for the airport. “A new beginning with family that loves you.”
“Yes. It will be grand!” replied Maggie enthusiastically sporting the same smile.
The heartbeat was hers alone now, the whooshing sound of blood and digestion had never been in her memory since the cord was cut, so why would she miss it now? The shadows that came and went might scare her, but nothing scared her as much as her own reflection. “Who am I?” She cried. The nightmares loomed, and would sometimes be interrupted by the sweet vision of her parent's unknown faces, calming her. And that voice. Whomever it was that spoke the comforting words of faith, the words kept coming. When Leslie and the sisters would arrive for a visit, accepting their hugs, she'd stare intently at their whimsical smiles, looking back at them through her own toothy grin, softly uttering the words, “Do I know you from somewhere?”
God and Satan
sitting in a tree
h i s s i n g
first came pride
then the fall
for us all.