Sunday, September 13, 2015

Six Words

Won't you be quiet, Krista Tippett?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Six Words

I don't know.  I don't know.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Letter of Complaint

It has become a grave concern of mine: How to stop time.

I imagine lassoing it and dragging it to the ground- it's too heavy, and I know it, and you know it, but I can't resist the snag of the image.  Also I imagine throwing myself in front of it, as if it's a train, but we all know how that ends.  I imagine myself prostrate clutching its feet as it walks away.  It's a deaf mute, time, or a robot- or simply hard-hearted.

But my project: Make it stop.   There's drink, which works sometimes, but only in shot-glass-worths, intermittent hiccups.  There are photographs, which are nothing but tattoos of regret, and videos, which are snuff films.  Gritting your teeth does not work, nor does a habit of sustained, maniacal attention to the moment -it passes and passes and passes, indifferent to your efforts.   Meditate and you're nothing but a Greek chorus, a bedside witness, late to the reception with your hands full of funeral casserole.

Writing is your best bet.  You knew that.  But it's a fools errand.  You twist things, by writing them.  You wring their necks.

I strangle anyway.  Damp heat.  Small hands scrabbling at model trains.  The hush, thick and awful and exquisite, after a toddler has passed.  We wake early, drink too much coffee, try to scare up joy where we can - a train's passage and the whine of its brakes, a plan for dinner and tickle chase, again.

It's a no-joke enterprise, the permanent retarding of today: failing and failing and shouting the whole damn time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Bluer sky; limestone.
Oaks again: tall ones, pin, white-
but why this red dirt?

Sunday, August 9, 2015


My son has a smattering of words.  It's a strictly curated, though steadily increasing, collection; he amasses and disburses his words carefully, like currency.  His vocabulary takes him places (up, down); it describes his desires (mommy, wawa) or sparksa smile (hi, bye). 

To an even greater extent, his words limn what looms large in his world -a glimpse into the otherwise opaque toddler brain.   My son has 40 words, maybe more, maybe less- and because the set is circumscribed, each individual word takes on greater importance.   Some speak to proximity- Mommy, Daddy, Kitty.  Others to perceptual salience- Ambulance! Airplane!   And some are unfathomable- Button, Elmo.

And coffee. "Coffee, coffee!" my toddler cries, jabbing at the burr grinder, the cups, the beans.  He serves me pretend coffee in a plastic cup, and laughs when I slurp it down.  "Coffee!" he screams, correctly, at church; "coffee" to the travel mug in the car.

I am charmed by this.   I am also sobered.  Our children are ever and irrevocably themselves.  But sometimes, too, they are mirrors-  small, slobbery, fractured reflections of our bean-stained days.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New new new

The process of settling into a new home is made more complicated when you know you'll leave. After four years of homeowning in Virginia, we're renting for a year in St. Louis- so we'll be here 12 months, maybe less, before having to haul and pack and reacclimate once more.

And so the place-learning process -the divining of the best route from the dresser to the closet, the acclimation to the new angle of the morning sun, the repeated movement of the hand from the tea cupboard to the kettle and back- becomes fraught.

I'll learn the best place to catch the afternoon light- but not for long.  I'll enjoy the porch- but not for long.  I'll tolerate the closet- but not for long.

A sense of impermanence stains things.  It seeps into the manner in which you fall in love, the ways in which you make yourself comfortable- or not.

Impermanence shouldn't do this, of course-  every home, everything, is impermanent. 

But somehow, to love, you need to be able to forget that.  And I can't.  Yet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


The sky is almost, but not quite, the right color.   Closer, oh yes- less bone-colored, less bleached- but still not quite the blue I remember rushing into my eyes when I cracked my lids, lying on my back in the grass, the blades of it scraping my skin, the whine of the cicadas lapping against my ears, that fat, wet air.

Though there's something to be said for a near miss.

I'm closer to home, then- but farther, too.  Because this house is not mine, and the things in it, all the cheap furniture I dragged halfway across the country, looks only vaguely familiar crouching in its new corners, and the lamps are broken, and I have no friends.

Moving is a mower-down, a knocker-flat.  You grow a life, let it creep up around you, and then all of a sudden it's scraped to its base.

Yet still, wheeling over you, that sky-