Barnacle Day

Yesterday I wrote about
a boy whose spilled salsa on a white tee-shirt
saved him from imprisonment
after a terrorist attack
in a small town
during a military parade.

Before that, I wrote about the detective couple,
one a psychic, the other a movement analyst
who rescued their aging mentor
from a half-buried tool shed
deep in a cornfield
after he had been kidnapped
by an unstable former student turned secretary.

Before that, I wrote about
a lonely maid in a big mansion
whose broken vacuum cleaner
led her to a little shop
where magic and repairs are an everyday occurrence.

And perhaps tomorrow
I will write about a middle-aged woman
who sits on a golden sofa, bathed in sunlight,
writing with black ink on a yellow legal pad
ripping off each page as she finishes,
pages accumulating all around
until she can no longer find her tea
and is afraid of moving.

But today, today sits patiently
like a barnacle on a rock at low tide.
Abundance is mere hours away.

Sunshine Girl

I’m a sunshine girl
from a sunshine state
and what a state I’m in
stuck here in the dark rain,
more than thirty years later.

I went off to college in the rainy Northwest
and wrote a poem
about riding my bike across the tracks in the hot summer sun
and the cool metallic smells of the orange packing house
and the kindly packers who gave us giant oranges for a nickel,
and of parking our bikes in the simmering shade
of the rusty corrugated metal sheds
and the peeling of those oranges, mouths watering,
sweaty crotches finally off those hot seats—
and a boy in that college class got all offended and said
I should not have had the words “sweaty crotch” in my poem.

Boy, you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Now, when I see the shapes of the leaves of southern California plants,
the eucalyptus and sage brush and pepper trees and live oaks,
when I smell the chaparral in the heat and the glorious petrichor
that rises after big summer rain drops—
it is enough to move me to tears.

Every winter here, I wonder what I’m doing.
A sunshine girl huddled indoors, I await the promise of summer:
direct sunlight on my skin, a heat that penetrates enough
to cause a drowsy well-being.
I turn on all the lights and wait for sun breaks
so I can run outside, close my eyes,
and tilt my hungry face toward the sun.

But it’s only in the winter that I wonder.

What If

what if
we knelt down
and told those children
that it was okay
to laugh when they were scared or shocked
that is was okay
to cry when they were happy
that it was healthy
to curl up in a ball and roar
when someone hurt your feelings?

what if
when those children grew up
they were familiar with the sights and sounds
of emotional weather moving through
and were as welcoming of
and compassionate towards
their own releases as they were of others’?

what if
they could see
that it makes perfect sense
to laugh and laugh, heart open like a flower,
when someone else is allowing themselves
to howl and moan with tears?

what if
we all knew what it was
when we felt it
and jumped on, and rode it to shore
then let it go
and got on with the next thing,
more spacious inside?

what if
we were all
more spacious, more spacious
inside?

Perched

Look up
from down
upon the brown
wood floor
smooth beneath the back
and see
the leaves
gone from the boughs
and the spider walking
on the pristine ceiling.
Look in
and feel
gratitudes
walking up the spine
peering out the window of the soul
flying out the windows
to perch in the trees
outlined against the gray and gentle
winter sky.

My Body’s Notebook

A prayer
is rolling in like fog on the smooth wood floor, waiting
to be kicked up by our heels and toes
and stirred.

A prayer
is our energy focused,
dancing a trio, moving
from this side to the other with our arms outstretched,
our feet echoing each other’s, our eyes aware
our hearts concentrated.

A prayer
is rarely spoken of as such—
usually other words, like
connection
desire
grace
intention
inspiration
communion
meditation…..get spoken instead.
But prayer?

Prayer, the word, was spoken that day, and in the same sentence
as the word performance!
So often these two words
are juxtaposed
in my heart’s mind.
Definitely a favorite page
in my body’s notebook.

Color Of Sky

I love watching the blackbirds
do their flying-East thing
in a clear sky’s dusky-time.
No matter what time o’clock, what month of year,
they know: when the sky comes
to that day-winding-down time,
they gather in groups and take off,
heading East. Turning tail
to the setting sun, they fly that-a-way
until…. they stop somewhere.
Perhaps they realize that this time of day,
this color of the sky, sets them off to the best advantage:
striking black silhouettes performing
visually pleasing choreography.
Is it instinct? Just good showmanship?
Such discipline…. or is this the daily joy
that makes life grand?
I wonder what time of day, what color of sky
delineates my edges, provides the perfect backdrop
for swoops of joy?

Flying Spittle

Energy
tastes good
to my soul’s tongue
a double or triple helping
of potato-leek soup,
satisfyingly soporific
grounding and benign.

Energy
looks with love-eyes
sparkling, winky,
lighting me up inside
all up and down the spine
of my Christmas Tree.

Energy
transforms all my surroundings
into edible delights–
my heart twirling in slow motion
like a grinning Boxer chasing its tail–
I must let myself slobber
a little
on you.

Noticing

The stage is black
The spotlight in the center
The audience in the round
The seats steeply raked
Rows going higher and higher
up into the rafters, and perhaps beyond.
Out of sight and hearing, an ethereal audience is also watching.

In the light she turns slowly,
every breath illuminated
every heartbeat heard
every cell scrutinized by the silent throng.

Completely exposed, utterly vulnerable.

It is quiet, except for the sussurant movements
of her feet as she turns, always facing new witnesses,
always turning her back to thousands more.
There are no demands, no answers— just the circle of light,
and the others outside it, in the darkness.

Over and over again, a fearful mind climbs out of its monkey-skin
and freezes.

Then a shift: I am here, she remembers.
Monkey-mind, mid-shed, simply begins to dissolve.
Notice: the surface of the stage beneath her feet. It feels interesting.
Tiny bumps, roughness, layers and layers of paint covering—
Who knows what?

Notice: a subtle warmth generated by the spotlight.
Suddenly no longer interrogatory, the light
becomes beneficent. Sweaty palms, turned outward
begin to dry as she raises her arms slowly above her head.

Rootedness, timelessness, flow up through her feet and legs.
It is the trees speaking to her, from the time before
they became the boards beneath her. As she listens,
they remind her to dance with the wind.

With each movement of her toes, her fingers, her hips, her hair—
thousands of filaments of light extend from all parts of her,
out and out, to every seat…. up and up.
She dances.

Hey Old Mexican Man

The tears sprang forth from my eyes, like a cartoon character who is whacked between the shoulder blades and spits a mouthful of food:

“Hey old Mexican man, how can you go around looking like my Dad
with your white chin beard and smooth brown skin, your glasses and snappy-looking hat, your boots and your nice shirt and self-respecting character? How can you stand around, patiently self-aware, (jerking me around emotionally), when I’m just standing in line with someone else who is standing in line at Costco? It’s not even a store I’ve ever been in before, and there you are, being all Dad-like, right next to me. I had a jolt, then a long appreciative stare, then as I said, the tears sort of sling-shotted up from my stomach and burst in my eyes, at about the same time my throat constricted and I wanted to sink to my knees and curl up, or go up to you for a hug, or run my fingers over your beard. Hey old Mexican man, do you have daughters? How old ARE you? The back of your head even looks like my Dad’s, both dignified and vulnerable, and I have to look away because I feel a growl of frustration at my loss, sense a wail running toward me across the grass, its arms outstretched, wanting to enfold me in the Truth of its sound.”

It’s Just Weather

The weather turns gloomy
A cloud blots out my sun
I search, looking down at my legs
for the joy
as if it were a brightly colored pair of pants
that have been forgotten in the dryer.

My mind gets caught in a dark hallway,
I go down feeling for the knobs.
Opening each door a crack, I hear and see
fragments of what goes on around me.
You reach out, trying to catch my attention
in your butterfly net, but I dissolve
and continue down, looking back
wishing I could step inside the warmth and dance a while.

Wind. The illusion of time.

A scent on the air, blue above bleeding through–
The clouds chase each other, trying to re-knit their matrix
but the weather has changed. Light floods the hall,
pouring through the trees around me.
I make my way to the sunny clearing,
smiling as someone dancing in colorful pants
looks just like me.