findingexpression

awe, humility, hope and a few other things I might notice


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Passing of storms

Is it resilience in the trees when

yesterday the leaves were grey and upside down

even the branches went limp, tossed from the storm as if desperate for water

in spite of the pouring rain.

Today the leaves are shining green with the sun

like a friend in a nearby lounge chair whose hands dangle over the sides.

 

I have had the privilege of time,

of grassy lawns, even if they are not my own,

of silence seeking and finding

and passing storms.

I have forgotten the words you said and the fear like clothes I used to wear

and I wonder if this is forgiveness.

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Generations 3

At dinner

Tires on a gravel driveway, every time, like plucking guitar strings as he slowed down. Full stop. Children’s ears turned to listen. Water taps twisted off, slowly. Hunger flamed up. Even the stains on the ceiling loosened a little.

“Hey honey.” Gristly side hug. He smelled like wood shavings and sparks. He put his hand gently on her back and they walked together into the house. A blast of hot air still needed to escape the hallway, it spooned itself around the screen door and hung there for a moment before travelling on towards the garden out back. A gentle kiss in her hair pressed curls and sweat and sand that still sat there from her afternoon dip.

“I’ll go upstairs and shower, will you wait for me.”

“Of course, I’m going to take care of some of that wood, so save me some hot water.”

“Hot water, whatever.”
With her dad they didn’t need words. With her mother she didn’t want them.

He strode towards his wife, curled his arm around her waist and smiled into her neck.

“Nice dress.”

“Nice day?”

“Hmm. Yours?”

“Fine, fine now.” She kissed his forehead, what she could reach and tasted his skin.

A glass of water sat on the blue counter, cooler for the wishing of it. He drank the water and sat down to a small cushioned chair and unconsciously threw back a whole handful of roasted cashews into his mouth. When he finished chewing he asked, “how ‘bout a cup of coffee, then I’m going to split that pile.”

“Not the whole thing?”

“I’ll see how far I get with it.” Swallowed hard. “How was painting today.”

Three breaths and a glance up the stairs.

“She was testing me.”
“She was not testing you.”

She looked for words on the simple patterned linoleum and in the sink drain.

“You’re right.” She won’t go under, even if I ask her to. She’s tougher than I was.  “She’s asking about light, but I wouldn’t tell her. These days I don’t know. Sometimes the rules don’t work anymore. What if I tell her and it’s wrong?” A question.

“What if there’s a hurricane and we all go out to sea, it will all look different then.” A reach for her hand. “I didn’t mean that.”

Lowering her long lashes, “You know I don’t like swimming as much as I used to.”

“I know.”


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Generations 2

In the afternoon

“So where’s the rest of it?”

“What do you mean, it’s a painting?”

“Where’s the rest of it?”

“I’m not finished yet.”

“I can see that.”

She wanted to scream and tear into the canvas with her nails. She had a short temper these days. Maybe it was that awful tea at breakfast. She just opened her mouth, slack jawed and breathed. Swallowed hard.

“Wash it out. Or just go Jackson Pollock all over it.”

“Jackson who?”

Needle stare.

Needle stare back. Another swallow. “Right, I didn’t put the background in first.”

“You didn’t put anything in first.”

“Yes, I …” Lips pursed fish like. She could just go.  “Who, or how ah…”

“I didn’t put the background in yet.”

“Right.” She glanced over her right shoulder, deeply. Squinting, just a little.

“Ok. Keep working. Today, get it in today.”

“I will.” What’s the use of raising my chin if in raising it I bite my lip? The colors weren’t right, the light changed every millisecond and I’m sweating sheets. Lucky not to get the canvas wet. I should move closer to the ocean.

“Who’s coming tonight?” Her mother was already walking away, yellow dress, unwrinkled, tight bun of mossy hair. “Mom, is Dad coming for dinner?”

Leather spinning on sand, crunching sounds. Drifting dust. “Yes, I think so.”

Water passed between them. The temperature dropped two degrees and the crunching sound grew more pleasant and nostalgic. Breathing happened.


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Generations

After Breakfast
“How do we know the difference in a picture between sunrise and sunset?”

How do we believe that California is still golden and New England is still sweet?
“Look at the leaves”,  she said.
Are they transparent like your skin or throbbing and aching with the last rites?

“And what about the birds?”she asked.

“The birds don’t sing in you. Your eyes are not wings. Don’t.”   Silence.  She put her fingers to her chin, couldn’t stop it.
“Your eyes will not take you there. Your lashes are too short.”

She snorted a recognition and bent her short lashes. Waited.

“Learn to swim first. That’s my advice.”

Arms still at her sides she could only twitch her shoulder a little, in fear. She hated cold water.

Goddamit this one could swim and pull herself out and still not be wet.
She controlled her wish to pound the desk in jealous rage. More frustration.
Ahem, let me cover my lips with my hands and tell you that you should swim a long long time, that I pray the weeds don’t catch your feet and little fish don’t nibble at your toes in jest or in hunger.
Out loud at last she said, “Ask yourself if the leaves are rising or falling, then you’ll know.”
Go down with the ship and drown a little, then you’ll understand. Too uncharitable.
“Learn to swim child, by god I don’t know how else you go forward.”

She nudged her insolent chin to the left. She knew this woman didn’t have the answer. Nobody did, the answers weren’t written anymore. Clocks no longer ticked and everybody had reams of black lines in their heads but nobody knew the answers. Fuck you. “I’d rather drown in black eyeliner and chemical soup.”

“No you wouldn’t.”

“I know.”

“Now you’re swimming.”


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Synthetic

I walk across the wood parquet floor and notice warm spots and small warped puddles. This warm smoothness conjures a powerful memory of the sandy floor of the lake where the summer sun cast through water and waves to make little golden spotlights and floating sand shone like shimmering mystical fish scales. Sitting on the couch is bathwater, its grey cover resembling unreflected stillness when clouds and wind breathed in relief. The only sounds are the hush of light breezes from the window fan and the remarkably close twittering of urban birds. My eyes set on the card my mother sent about a year ago of bending red tulips still closed and lithe and floating in their white 3×5 vase.

There is nothing synthetic about these feelings. Indoors is outdoors, not just blending, but interchangeable. In South American homes with courtyards or the meandering ladders of roof patios in India the indoor and outdoor experiences merge. Courtyards become mazes of potted plants, kitchen gardens, and stone-base cooking stoves. Drying clothes are strung on wires and in the shelter of shade from a cuticle of cement overhang sleep babies and stray cats. In India beds (manji) are brought out, serve as hammocks for mid-day naps, dining tables, and royal thrones for guests. There are no beaches, no lakeshore, no ease at riverbanks, but the courtyards and roofs are cottage retreats nonetheless. So too is my aerie with fluttering curtains and spider’s webs in ceiling corners. Ticking clocks and refrigerator gurgles replace the metronome of ocean waves and the distant settling of seawater through ancient rock tunnels. I can feel the scratchy surface of barnacles on weathered stones and test slimy seaweed ledges with tender toes. I smell the salt in the air and the splash of humidity is spray from the waves crashing.

I am at the sea, the lake, the cottage, alone amongst thousands but immersed in the fullness of the heart. The timeless ageless echoes are in the present because imagination encircles the synthetic with memory in high-speed orbits to reveal only essence in a peaceful mind.