Mars shines as a warrior dipped in rose gold, grasping all of the glory that the universe can honor. I sit on the wall and watch, hoping to see a historic battle of the gods but light years rob me of that pleasure. Whatever golden light I see happened eons before I was born.
The night is gentle with breezes that tickle the fine curls that escape my ponytail. I hear the flow of water from the neighbor’s koi pond and suppress the unnecessary urge to pee. It’s like a cruel trick played by a sibling, dipping fingers in water or turning the faucet on full when someone is desperate on the other side of the door.
I have a new neighbor. The change in ownership in the house next door changes my own home atmosphere. I have met her and she seems nice. Her decorating choices clash with my ideas of cohesion but it is now her house. What can I say? I can’t exactly tell her that the fire hydrant and dog butt don’t go with the pagoda and koi. I can’t mention how potentially racist the lawn jockey appears to be, especially considering the racial demographics of our neighborhood.
She will make her own mark.
You couldn’t have known this, but about three weeks ago, I lost my youngest sister to a brain aneurysm My mother died of the same when I was 4 years old. Naturally, we looked at the hereditary connection. So far, only my older sister and I have been tested. Our MRIs came back clear. Five other siblings haven’t been tested yet. I’m getting impatient. This is important.
I need to return to my right now. The embers in my fire pit are gasping for breath, flickering and fading, yet I sit here in sleeveless comfort to watch its struggle for fuel. I hear a distant windchime and marvel at the music of the breeze.
The clock is nearing midnight and soon, tomorrow will be 24 hours away again. Someone is calling their dog in a sing-song voice, no panic, just a pleasant “come here” tone. More dogs need that kind of love.
Mars has disappeared beyond the tree line. The night sky is now brilliant and nondescript at the same time. Trees stand in silhouette against insignificant stars, reminding me of my own presence in the mass of humanity. I am a glimmer.
And I am tired.
Hesitance tugs with quicksand viscosity,
affecting not only footsteps
but also unfocused thoughts
and tenuous breath,
leaving the heart to stammer forward
despite contrary wishes.
And though I cry in my sleep for unrealized dreams,
I treasure the gifts of my yesterdays
and realize that the future waits
wherever my chin points.
So I lift from the wallows of despair
to focus on the promise ahead.
Dawn breaks in weary solitude,
with remnants of exhausted beauty
shattered and scattered.
Defeat lay evident
like a threadbare prayer rug,
ripe for uncaring soles
to blindly insult.
Although solemn day
bears witness to wounds,
seclusion is voluntary
and love can be found
if only two can recognize
of an outreached hand.
A bone-deep chill claws winter’s bones
to splinter joy of seasons past
with storm-swept silent undertones
of ire-fed tempests unsurpassed.
When arctic nights envelop day
and frostbite spreads from bended knees,
coldhearted gods will turn away
to shield themselves from fevered pleas.
Trees along the highway burst into flaming color as if brilliant hues could warm the autumn-chilled nights. Oil stained asphalt slices forests and hills in half so people can race through time with alarming blindness.
I’m on the road again and I’m afraid that the scenery will stretch unchanging into the state of monotony. I want little more than to take an exit and meander through pastoral towns on my journey. Commitments make my desire an impossible daydream.
Heavy clouds and boarded up buildings contribute to my sense of gloom. Front seat conversation filters back between headrests, not to engage or entertain me, but because it’s energy is too great to be constrained to the front half of the car. I examine my fingernails, plum polish a week past needing a manicure. A couple of small freckles have spread and I am reminded of older hands, not mine but what mine will become. A woman can snip, tuck, dye, stretch, plump and disguise most indications of passing years but her hands will always broadcast the truth.
I check my surroundings as Pleasant Valley Sunday plays on the radio. The trees in this area are either yellow or bare and I miss the red. So many trees have shed their leaves that the forest looks like a bramble. Monotony will set in soon. I am ready to be home.
in a subtle bloom
redolent of sylvan wine
while still waters
sip orange-laced cognac
with the setting sun
and share a repeated sky
with all who care to see
as champagne curtains
prepare the hour
for the arrival
of a stately moon.
Matthew Cornell’s painting, “Sundown at the Club” inspired this poem. Many thanks to this very talented artist for such incredible inspiration. This poem was written as part of the Winter Park Paint Out International Poetry Competition.
My first cup of coffee cools quickly in the pre-dawn air. Winter has finally retreated to the point that the three season patio offers comfort with the aid of a blanket. I’m grateful for the dark. Sunlight points to chores that need my attention. I’d rather be blind to them this early in the day.
Orion sits low on the northwestern horizon as if the huntsman, having endured another night in celestial exile, is eager to stretch out on the distant hill and rest.
With the exception of the intricate sky above, this hour is devoid of detail. The hedgerow is a single black mass that looms as a warning. Trees have yet to grow their modest covering of spring greenery and stand in stark silhouette to the featureless landscape around them. The wind has quieted after days of protest.
This morning is a blank canvas.
Steam rises from my fresh coffee in an attempt to become the only cloud in the sky. My fingers trace the pattern on the mug, stirring memories of the person who gifted it to me many years ago. My smile sips the earthy liquid as my thoughts flit elsewhere.
An interruption in the leaves nearby prompts me to curl my feet under me in an involuntary protective move. My dog continues to snore from his patio bed, escaping both alarm and curiosity. I’m grateful because I’m confident that barking would have shattered this moment and forced me into my day.
Yet, without the barking or the sense of sight, my to-do list begins to form in my thoughts. I must be waking. I have time to enjoy another cup of coffee as I sketch out the day before me.