Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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The right note

Tomorrow might have been fifty-two,
not just thirteen since thirty-nine.
The day, aligned with family and gratitude,
always reflected joy, the heat of our love
folded into stuffing.
The missing of him has gotten harder
but it seems he knows. I came upon
the sound of his small gasp
that wrapped me up each time
in beauty gauze, when (finally ready)
I presented myself to his gaze
before our evenings out.
Deliciousness itself, just
knowing that he would, when I did,
that he always meant it,
and I can smile now, the memory
a pitch perfect gift.


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Connection

When I sing, music puts
its hands around my heart.
My words think tears
are a puddle to splash
through shoeless.
Color often stops my breath,
and I am held its willing
prisoner. A sudden memory
might need release.
Any of these call up joy
or tears, and I don’t mind.
When the signal comes
they might glide to me
in a waltz, or whirl up
on the skirts
of a wild mazurka.
Better yet, ride in
on the smoothness
of an alto sax.


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Restland

Olivia’s obelisk sits in tailored green
behind an iron gate and arrow pointed fence.
Jumped-up gold letters on the arched black sign
declaring Restland. Stand near enough
in late afternoon shimmer and her voice is clear,
restless words reaching for release.

It is spring, but where are the lilacs I asked for?
No rounded shapes, or shade, or not to be forgotten scent.
A bit of rest here and there would have suited,
but this place? That name? The gods laugh.

Where are the staccato horse clops and soft whuffs,
wagon creaks, quiet words from walkers,
children playing hoops, the church bell?
Only constant gliding rumbles, impatient horns,
blares of sound, no suitable rhythm for a hill town life.

Where are the visitors? None inclined or left to come,
not family, not him anymore. Is he here too?
Years doing women’s work, all the time seeing color,
rearranging light, and wanting paint and brush
to show him what I saw, wanting to say his given name,
not Mister, nor Mister Baker darling.

Where is the promised release of death? I lie,
still in my stays, oh god for a knife to cut their laces,
walk and breathe unbound, not go about exactly as a man
but with a woman’s eyes, much better.
Will he meet me here in moonlight,
pull my fingers to his lips, and say my name?


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How to darn a heart

If mending is the only route
then hold it safe, to
dance its beat
against your palm.

To brace the fraying edge,
thread light with memories
and run their warmth
the whole way round.

Bottom up or top down,
the strongest strands of love
comprise the weft, running stitch
to running stitch.

Then left to right or right to left,
hope forms the warp
needled over, under
in between.

It will look different darned,
the rend lightly scabbed,
dozing as it heals, until the next
onslaught of love.

 

____________________________
NaPoWriMo Day 1 (my view of time being elastic), the prompt was to provide instructions on how to do something.

 


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Waiting

She pried my eye open,
brilliant Venus did, balanced
just above the pine spikes,
tired of waiting for me
to get on with dreaming.
Around her clear sky,
meteors done,
still hours away from light.
Deaf to her message, I went
back to bed and snoring dogs,
to dream of love
across a bog reached
on a path of floating stones,
until I balked and jumped
to solid ground.
She knew this one
was in the queue, and
did not want it buried
in the dreamless part of sleep,
but felt vividly, and
have me wake, warned.


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Late present

The moon brought me a gift
last night, before the
solstice rain moved in.
I left the crispness
of my northern woods
to walk the dew off grass again
with you. It’s late, the
house lights dark, the night
all midsummer lushness,
bell buoys ringing softly.
We know the way by feel
across the lawns and
down the hill to home,
but cannot pass the garden
with its flat topped walls.
We sit, shoulders touching,
stone still warm, and let our
breath find a rhythm together
after days apart. Then on
our way again, to soft
lamp light on varnished
wood, and pick up where
we were before the first
mosquito bit.
This morning I still feel
your hands, your skin on mine,
and smile, not caring.


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And Peggy Sue

They called him Crane, not Ichabod but the bird. I’d see him Saturday nights at the tap room where he won big money throwing darts, bony fingers on a different circuit from the rest of him when as he drank. Never pretty in daylight — when drunk, his angles seemed smoothed out, almost movie vaselined. The dim lit corners left the knife scar on his neck alone, a dull flash of on-off michelob blinking onto his baldness. Once, college boys found the bar, and while the rest of his townie pals shunned the clueless preps, he fought them at the dart board one by one with his dead aim, metal sinking into cork almost soundless, like a perfect dive knifes into chlorined blue. Always left them broke, their egos bleeding out. The drunker he got, the better he played, groove sunk cheeks split by a grin. He took them all, keening Peggy Sue softly between each throw.


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Seeing them off

Today they are still here,
and I am too, in late September.
My hummingbird pair. One darts in
to feed, the other perches
drinking deeply, tipping her head back
to let the nectar slide.
I feel that energy sweet and cool
down my throat.
Their absence looms, a large bell
with muffled clappers tolling
unopposed, reddening the trees,
exiling light, ushering in cold.
Lately the question, will they
visit me again, or will there be
someone else looking out my window
twelve months on?
Each year it is harder let them go,
as if there were a choice.


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The morning watch

He sits behind the screen,
the sun’s minute hand
remaps his curves in warmth.
With not much else to do
his morning’s work is
out there, living traffic
he will watch and note.
Force marched ants in
single file, small brown toads,
leaf rustles out of sight,
the swooping zizz
of dragonflies.
A hummingbird returns
to drink, then preen. This
makes him smile. Even they
must stop and rest.
The small world quiets, starts to
wait for shade, when high sun
moves away, raptors drafting
on its currents. He sees
and understands. Feeling
stiff he’s up to find another
patch of sun. A whoofing sigh,
then head on paws he sleeps.