250 Solitaires

250 solitaires
are not exactly
100 years of solitude
except when they are

250 solitaires
of different varieties
offering the illusion
of diversity

250 solitaires
in one app
for one person
to live within

250 solitaires
instead of writing
instead of reading
instead of sleeping
instead of talking

250 solitaires
interrupted by a phone call
from an old friend
(all my friends are old,
like me)
a friend from years ago
work years

250 solitaires
as soon as I hear
her hello


Driving to Bremo

Tall – five, six foot tall
marshmallows bake in the
grass bottomed
tree bordered
road edged
sun fired
Awaiting giants
with chocolate mud slabs and
granite graham crackers
who need
some more treats
for gargantuan appetites

Tall – five, six foot tall
“Marshmallows” Woody had said
as we drove past the
mown field
with scattered
white wrapped
Awaiting harvesters
with giant gray trucks
wide wheeled behemoths
that bring
some more food
for bovine appetites

Words after the Voice & Movement Workshop

Pushing, pulsing, pulling,
pursuing, pummeling, puckering
words, images,
thoughts half-formed
theories unborn
wisdom unlearned
truths untaught

O listen to my speak
Speak to my listen

sway together
say together
lean together
learn together
group together
grow together

Closer closer closer still
touchingly close

Wordless now, I call bawl
yodel throatal
nasal playsal

Hear my echo
through your world
bounce back
to me

Arise now
Glimmering shimmering sun
Sparkling crackling leaves
Mouth mobile
Lips luscious
Ears wide

Say sing listen move rest refresh

Trying to Listen

(This morning at my gym, I sat in the lounge area next to a woman who was old but probably not as old as me. I smiled at her, she smiled weakly at me. She began to play music on her cellphone. I was immediately annoyed that she wasn’t using earphones, but I didn’t say anything. Very soon, however, a younger woman did say something, causing the older woman to stop the music and storm off, saying, “OK, you win!” So I challenged myself to write a story that would turn my irritation into empathy.)

She had to listen to it surrounded by people. But not people who knew her, knew him. She couldn’t, couldn’t listen alone, so alone, at home. In the house that now always felt empty and threatening. In the garden that felt so bare even with so much in leaf and bloom. She couldn’t listen with her children, whose grief sliced her already bleeding heart to shreds. She couldn’t listen with friends and neighbors, whose pity made her want to scream and throw things. Heavy things. With sharp edges. At them.

She tried the library. The problem was that she couldn’t listen with earphones that shut out all other sound and left her even more alone than alone. But other people looked at her with disapproving judgement and the librarian came over to tell her to use earphones or stop playing or leave.

She left.

She tried the coffee shop but still those looks. When the second person asked her to turn down the volume or use earphones or leave, she left.

She tried her gym. Just a few others sat in the lounge area in the chairs in front of the fake fire or at the small tables along the back wall. But it was a busy place. Right inside the door, before the registration desk, in front of the café area, across from the Kid Zone. Busy, noisy, people talking, walking, answering the phone, paging trainers, asking questions. Surely here. She sat in one of the chairs and started to play his last composition. His unfinished what? – not symphony. A weird piece with Eastern overtones and a heavy almost mournful…

“I’m sorry, but could you please turn that down? Or use earphones. It’s just too loud for me to concentrate,” asked – but really demanded – the assertive young woman now standing next to her. Where had she come from?

She smiled a weak smile at the seemingly polite young woman and turned the music off. Closed her eyes and just sat until she felt movement next to her. An older woman sat down in the nearby chair, gave her a soft smile.

“Maybe,” she thought, “maybe she is more tolerant – or more hard of hearing.”

She turned the sound down a bit and restarted the music. The young woman came quickly from the table behind her.

“I’m sorry, but that is still too loud. You sh…”

“OK, you win,” she said angrily to the empty too-full world, as she turned off the music and fled before she sobbed her too loud sobs.

Summer Stream

I sit on a wooden stool in the corner of the yoga platform Woody built for me in the very backest corner of the back shade garden. May has barely come yet already the air sits with summer heaviness around me. My vision is green filtered. I hear the stream, not a brook, just a stream, that now flows from one side of the garden to the pond that is on the other side, just before the barn-red garden shed with moss growing on the roof. Our stream – and it is just ours, beginning and ending its life on our property – our stream flows over and around and alongside Woody’s rocks. He told me once that he thought he had moved each rock at least four times: once into the van from wherever he found it, once out of the van into the back that was truly then just an English yard and not yet a garden, once into position where he wanted it, and again into position where he liked it better. He dug the pond bed and the stream bed. He laid the pipe and the liner and installed pump and filter, he positioned the rocks and he planted the plants and young trees, all under and within the secret shaded space between the rising spruces. All carefully planned so that, sitting here in early summer, I would see, hear, smell, feel, know only nature’s beauty. Flowering rhododendron, fading Lenten roses, fiddlehead ferns, vinca, other plants whose names I never remember despite his patiently repeated namings, leafing redbuds, flowing stream. And so I do, I see nature not conformed but transformed. And I also see Woody, not in a grain of sand or in the palm of my hand, but invisibly here.

Two for Fun

In Honor of Dorothy Parker

One perfect verse
She wrote one perfect verse.
Why is it, do you suppose,
I can never manage
Even one perfect curse?


Rhyming Time

Once upon a time
I wrote a silly rhyme
When I heard a soft chime
While I rubbed a silver dime
As I sucked a sprig of thyme
After I washed away some grime
And I squeezed a sour lime
Then I danced a silent mime
Because I solved a secret crime
Once upon a time.