Strings

I sense these strings
Attached to a raku-fired egg shape I own
Invisible, unknown to others
But I see them
And I feel them

I can remember how I felt when I first touched it
And held it in my hand
Or how it gave me hope or a transfer of power
To my middle heart

For others, it’s just a raku-fired egg shape
Sitting on my bookshelf
The red, purple and brilliant copper shine
Is pleasant to look at and hold

I see the red and violet ribbons wrapped
Around the middle of the egg
As it drew me to it
Reminding me of dreams, swords and dragons

And the love of a small boy dressed in his p.j.s
Waiting to hear me read stories
In the still of night
At the end of hard day

That egg lifts my heart
And it reminds me to face tomorrow
Armed with this memory as my shield.

Up on the Mesa – Albuquerque

While tourists bought silver Indian jewelry
- People drove drunk on Coors Blvd.
- The setting sun painted the Sandias red and orange
- Hot air balloons floated on the air currents
You were there on the mesa

Your deaths forgotten
Your secrets were hidden
About why you died
And how you died
You might have wept
You might have begged
You might have been angry
You might have been dead
Before you got there
Up on the mesa

While I went grocery shopping
- Visited the library
- Pumped my gas at Costco
- Painted on a blank canvas
- Strung beads
- Laughed on the phone
You were there on the mesa

In the midst of so much beauty
It’s easy to forget
Those souls with hardened hearts
Kill other people
And bury them in the dark
Hiding their secrets and their deeds
Up on the mesa

In Memory of Jamie Barela, 15, Monica Candelaria, 22, Victoria Chavez, 26, Virginia Cloven, 24, Syllania Edwards, 15, Cinnamon Elks, 32, Doreen Marquez, 24, Julie Nieto, 24, Veronica Romero, 28, Evelyn Salazar, 27 and Michelle Valdez, 22

In My Pocket

I usually have a rock or a bead in my jeans pocket
A collection in a stoneware bowl on my dresser
Holds ones that speak to me
I chose one in the morning
To take with me on my travels
Even if my travels means staying in the house all day
Rather than speaking to me, they feel good in my hand
Knowing one is there is also enough

Rocks that roll into my path I keep
If they can travel with me
I always thought they had a reason
Or a story to tell me

I have shards of pottery given to me by an old man in the last days of his life
He told me tales where he and his wife found them
When they were young and hiking through the Southwest
These shards have colors, shapes and layers of clay
I gave one to a friend who had cancer
And he kept it in a pouch in his pocket until the shard was worn away
As the his tumor in his thyroid dissolved and went away
Made by ancient women, the shard still had power

I gave a glass marble once to Andrea Dworkin at one of her readings
The brightly colored blue and purple marble had been with me a long time
I hadn’t planned to give it away, but as she spoke to me
And wrote her name and a greeting in my dog-eared copy of one of her early books
I handed the marble to her – she looked at it and paused
She told me thank you and that she needed that right now on this tour
She was tired and wanted to go home.
I smiled as she put it in her pocket.

I carry a small raw opal in memory of my son
Its colored fire comforts me as it reminds me of his passion of life
And how he is gone too soon
But lives on – in a reminder in my pocket

Try it sometime
Select a rock and carry it around
Maybe you will give it a story to tell

Wind

I noticed the absence of wind where I live
There are some summer breezes in the morning
But if thunderstorms are not forecast in the afternoon
Then it’s still, silent and humid

Its loss reminded me of wind I loved
Wind hitting my face
And tangling my hair while I was on the back of a motorcycle
Going fast on a freeway or a mountain back road
Goggles let me see without the fear of bugs hitting my eyes
And the faster we went – the more the wind was thrilling
It made me feel alive

Wind at the top of a mountain whipping around
As you stood looking in all directions
The wind felt like a messenger
Bringing you knowledge of far-off places
If you were open to receiving it

Wind that drove those tumble weeds across the desert
And across roads of traffic
I thought of those traveling weeds as my anxieties of grief
When one was hit at a high speed
It would break up and disappear
But most just traveled with the unseen wind off
To other places as problems for other people

Winds that scared me
Included a night hurricane I was in as a child
The power went off
The shutters banged loudly against the house
Like guns going off
My parents were worried
And they wouldn’t let me near the windows
But I desperately wanted to see
It was scarier not knowing than actually seeing

Winds in New Mexico sometimes were sustained for
Periods of days at high speed
The desert sand forced its way under the doors and windows
At night the wind howled like a being that wanted to be free
I always wondered why the cacti were so low to the ground
And now I know it was because its survival required a plan.

As we all do.

In the Silence

Silence has always been a friend of mine
After school, I’d walk up our hill to our small community
In search of kids – but mostly they were already occupied
I liked going over to the remnants of old barn
The only thing left was a hill that led to the front doors
The doors were gone and some of the stone walls were still standing
But mostly it was overgrown
It was a quiet place
It had weeping willows trees – my favorites
And some pines that when the wind went through
They rustled their slight song

Silence is still my friend
It calms me and lets my mind wander
And sometimes I can go back to the old barn hill
And remember the whistling of pines
And the swaying of the weeping willow
Bringing with it a familiar safety
This helps me in my anxiety
This safe place I can go
I am a fortunate woman

I’ve needed them lately
as the world churns its hate and chaos
And I wonder how people can do this to others
to children, to the elderly
Whether you show me one man’s murder in graphic violence
Or show me the crushed bodies of children after a bomb
That Americans made drops on a damaged city far away
It’s not a shining example of our humanity
And it hurts my heart

An Hour in the Car

When I lived in California
And took an hour-long trip
The freeways were crowded
The strip malls were plenty
And there was a lot to keep my attention
And when the hour was up
You were somewhere totally different

In New Mexico, the roads were straight and sparse
And off to either side
Were stretches of desert
With sage brush, mesquite trees
Junipers, unknown trees
Putting down roots in search of water
Close to the road were erosion-etched red, pink and white stone
There were mountains in the distance
Majestic, sometimes covered on the top with snow
You knew they’d be huge if you were closer
You could see for hundreds of miles in any direction
There were herds of horses, lazy-looping hawks
Maybe if you looked hard enough
You’d see a herd of antelope on a distant slope
Clouds paraded across the brilliant blue sky
And you could see a thunderstorm coming miles away
An hour went by quickly
You even looked forward to the trip back

In Georgia, an hour from my town, the two-lane roads go on forever
Bordered on each side by a swatch of cut grass
And the dense woods of pine trees and kudzu
Barely letting in the light
I look for wildlife but never see any
Except crushed armadillos on the roadside
And there’s always two spaced far apart
Occasionally there are small run-down houses barely visible
Reclaimed by the woods around them
There are signs along the road
Leading you to believe there might be towns if you want to turn
(Always Winder for some reason)
An hour from my house east or west looks the same

The landscape looks as if you never left.
Leave your camera at home
Unless your thing is shooting miles of pine trees and kudzu.
And getting to where you just left.

Reflection

The valley lay before me
The sunlight just peeking
Above the farthest peak
I stood quietly
Looking out over my quiet village
I pulled my robe closer around me
The air still had the night’s chill
The feathers around my beaded shields
Moved in the breeze
Bringing back memories that
Had been locked away

The symbols on my robe told the stories of my life
Of loves, of quarrels, of births and letting go
My end of time was coming soon
I sensed, but I could still teach
I could still offer counsel
If only anyone would listen

I am in a suspended time in life
Not vital, but still valuable
Am I content with that?

The sunlight hit my face
And warmed my body
The doubt at the end of night fled
And in its place came peace

and another day.

Soul-dusting

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I’ve been cleaning
And if you know me or not
That does not mean I have a bucket
Or a dust cloth in hand

Soul-dusting
Rooms I’d shut off a long time ago
Like doors that were shut and locked
Because no good became of leaving the door open
At times, I couldn’t find my way out again
And it scared me

I feel braver now
I feel stronger now
Or maybe I’m just old enough
To really believe, “So what, bring it on.”

Dialogue from a show last night kicked open
One of the doors, splintering the frame
Linden was dropping off her son at the airport
He was going back to live with his father
Linden isn’t always the model parent
But she told her son that no matter what happened
He was the best thing she ever did
The script writers tapped into my locked room and stole that
Line from one of my rooms

And it didn’t terrify me – it didn’t send me into the abyss
I was in that room and I could see the open door clearly
And Joe was smiling in that generous gift of a moment
Where we understood each other completely
and love enveloped us.

Battle Within

When I chose them
They came home willingly
Just one or maybe a stack of books
Chosen from various bookstores, the flea market
Or a free table at a yard sale
I had a reason for each one
And while I was working
I had a lot of them
Parting with some of them was painful when I moved
From California to New Mexico
But I took most of them with me

But when the time came to move from New Mexico
I had too many to move yet again
The librarians were delighted and I was sad
When I pulled up my car with 385 hardback and trade paperbacks
I gave away my Dragons of Pern series to a young girl who came with her parents
To buy our bedroom set
She saw the piles of books on the dining room table
Her eyes grew wide = she didn’t own any hardback books
But she loved to read
She left with several boxes

And now my house is for sale for yet another move
I need a smaller house
And I’m looking at my remaining books
Yesterday I started with one shelf
Selecting books for sale, for donation, to keep
It’s harder this time.
The feel of a book, the opening to the first page
Sliding my hand along the edge of the page
And knowing all the pages ahead of me lead to new ideas
New adventures, places that will stay in my mind
I made the mistake of opening the 1996 World Atlas
The maps show me places
I’ll never go, but with the map, I can imagine.

But my mind argues I have Google Maps.
I can search online anywhere and even get real street views of places
I want to see. Paintings of fantasy worlds abound.
I have my Kindle – my books are now in a small case
I can carry my library in one hand.

The battle in my mind and heart goes on.

The Next Phase

The house is clean

Ready for sale – it’s listed

ready for showing

I move about the rooms

cautiously

not wanting to make a mess

thinking about the next phase

of moving yet more things out of my life

this down-sizing – I look at the tidbits of my life

and think who would be interested in that?

I think of people coming in after I die

and tasked with the job of cleaning out my house

shaking their heads

“Why on earth did she buy three sheep skulls?”

She had this great idea of covering them with turquoise and coral chip stones

and adding feathers and leather strips to honor her ancestors

and that idea took over her life for about two weeks – visions kept changing

less stones, more feathers – beads of all colors

and then another artistic vision took its place

and the skulls are wrapped securely in a box.

I packed them in California to take to New Mexico

I packed them in New Mexico to take to Georgia.

I bet those people will toss them in a big dumpster

with not a thought of a vision of what they could become.

And it will all be gone.

maybe I’d better get off my butt and work on some skulls.

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