Where eyes will fail
and joints may wail
and hair falls to the ground
I know the bit that sticks around
That flabby part without much sound
to tout itself as best
The massive part that covers all
walling organs in
Without it we’d appall
That pink stuff known as skin
Where eyes will fail
Time both rushes and slows as you leave that quaint and magical decade known as your 20s. Standing over a stove, I find myself marveling at the creation of a roux - basically a fancy version of the stuff that’s in a can of cream of mushroom soup. I’ve made the thing several times now - part of my attempt at a “healthy” version of tuna casserole - and every time I think, “It’s not going to thicken, it’s going to stay liquid goo,” and then, with a trick of the eye, it’s perfect. I’m standing in the kitchen and the sun is coming in and I’ve got this mystery of science bubbling over in front of me. Those slower moments are easier to hang onto. But others - a band screaming, whiskey downing, lakeshore driving - go by without much thought for me or my memory of them. Selfish shorts and languid longs. Spliced up frames in the wacky film of life.
And what lies beyond
and what below
and what above our head?
Do we die in hopes of living
or living, dream we’re dead?
What dreams may come
and what of dreams
What guidance can they give?
A sieve for inner mind
unwinding us to live.
You know, there are planets and there are planets. I’ve only seen two of them, but there’s absolutely no comparison between them. The moon is a fascinating place and I’m sure that, geologically, it’s a little gem. But give me the earth anytime. -Michael Collins, part of the three-man Apollo 11 moon crew.
Give me the earth anytime
let me roll it around in my fingers
like a tobacco-laced doob
muddy with ecstasy
and the sweat sigh of millions
Give me an earth hug
bring it in close
suffocating and damp
If there’s not enough earth to swoon
I’ll take the moon
Why fight so hard
I’d rather a yard and a dog
and a baby to hold
and a cold
to keep the baby forever needing
and feeding off me
All this time with the pen is bullish
I want something to say to
with blue eyes and round face
and a place
- oh a place -
where the three can be
and the writer-less me
I’m walking by myself at Navy Pier. I’m there to see a show, but I’m early and so I think I’ll walk to the end of the pier and sit in the sun and read. It’s sunny and cold, one of the last cold days in May. I find my bench and open A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. She’s talking about how Pride and Prejudice is a good book and how it’s amazing the book was even written at all, considering Jane Austen didn’t have said room of her own and most likely wrote surrounded by company and noise. Men’s sentences - Woolf says - are direct, compact. Effective, in that they are all the ear has known for most of human history. Women’s sentences are just being born. They’re part male, part struggling out of the maleness. Quieter. Listening carefully to themselves for clues.
At this point I stop and turn my face to the sun. There are more people around now, more May eskimos hunting for their own piece of the pier. I hear a sudden splash in front of me and look down to find a duck bobbing and staring back at me. We look at each other, that connection that has nothing to do with women or men’s sentences, and then down he dives. And though I wait a minute or two, he doesn’t come up again.
I pick up my book and - like a good soldier of theater - begin a proud march towards Henry the V and whatever the rest of the night has to say.
Hello life, who let you in?
And how long will you stay?
A day or two it used to be
A friendly stranger passing by
But now I lie and look at you for hours
Padding light footed in the corners of my room
Wombed in secrecy
And yet -
I breathe easier with so many windows thrown open
Dust blown away
So stay life
Lap tuck your head
On Mother’s Day, I went home to garden with my mom. After digging around with the worms for a bit, I wandered next door to our neighbors who had just returned from lunch with Linda’s 92-year-old mother, Jeanne. About a week ago, Linda was going through old toys and found her mother’s childhood bear, a brown button-eyed creature with washers as leg joints and fur all worn away. The bear wore a white gown with a hand-crocheted picture of a bear waving a bell. Jeanne’s mother had made the gown.
"Oh hello you, it’s been quite a while," Jeanne said to the bear. "We’ll have to put you with all the new toys where you can be the grandpa bear."
She turned it over in her hands and fingered the ears which looked as though they’d been sewn over many times.
"I used to carry him around by his ears." Jeanne said.
In The Velveteen Rabbit, a toy bunny longs to be “real” like the wild rabbits he encounters in the woods. It’s only at the story’s end, when the rabbit’s velveteen fur has rubbed away and his eyes have fallen out, that he realizes it’s love that makes you real. The whole of you is developed through loving - sacrificing and losing parts of yourself in order to gain parts of another.
I saw Jeanne’s bear, but I also saw the washers, firmly attached to the toy’s legs by her father. And the detailed little red bell sewn by her mother.
A pillar of love calling out from a century past.
If I could tell you everything
You wouldn’t need to ask
We’d waste no time
with peeling back
the layers of the mask
If you could see my heart’s inside
You wouldn’t need to guess
Or hold its bloody contents
And pray for more from less
If I were somehow not myself
You wouldn’t even have to try
I’d be a shoe that ties itself
A truth undoing lie
Uber-Where are you heading ma’am?
Me-Ah, I gotta go pick up my car from my sister who borrowed it. Younger sisters, you know…
Uber-Oh yes, I know. How many siblings do you have?
Me-Two younger sisters.
Uber-Ah, so three girls.
Me-Yeah, three girls. I’m like the moderator. I keep the two younger ones from killing each other.
Uber-Yes, this is like me and my wife. (Laughing) I am like, ok, you are right, you are the best my love, now please just calm down.
Me-I’ll have to remember that.
Uber-Yes, if you get married, you must do these things. It’s good to carry each other as much as we can. No one is perfect.
Me-I like that. How many siblings do you have?
Uber-We are 10 brothers and sisters and I am the center.
Me-Wow, jeez. How was it being in the middle of all that?
Uber-How do I like it? I like it. It’s ok.
Me-Well you have a good night. Enjoy the warm weather this week if we get any.
Uber-Don’t worry ma’am, I’ve got these weather controlling knobs. (Points to heater in the car) For me, it is always warm.
Uber-Yes, very lucky.