flash fiction: leaving the castle by the lake

Equating home with family had always made sense to her before she had lived anywhere but this boreal country.  She knew with certainty that she was out of place here:  From her brash American-ness to her multi-ethnic appearance, no one could mistake that she was not of this land and never would be.  Curly black hair wild under her attempt at a hand-knit beanie, children still stared at her in unabashed wonder of her origin.  She had come here for her own children, but even though they could sponsor her residency, they could not make her any more acceptable in this place.

Nevertheless, she found a strange sense of peace in her bubble of otherness.  She was largely left alone, only spoken to when absolutely necessary, able to bask in her own thoughts during the quiet school days and nights when the children were asleep.  She filled the silence with songs and soliloquies or the quiet tapping of her fingers on the keyboard.  Soul food was different here, but nevertheless filled her belly with its bland richness.  Taking up a national hobby, she brushed off her needles and knit with abandon as if her creations would inspire admiration from anyone but herself.  One morning, she realized that she had dreamed in a language not her own, and thought:  Am I finally one of them?

She imagined what it would be like to go back from whence they came.  Things had changed:  Her homeland was a foreign country, more foreign than this place.  Her house had been renovated while she was gone.  Old landmarks and routines were no longer familiar.  Her driver’s license had expired long ago.  She could hardly remember street names or locations even though she had lived there for twelve years.  Shocking what absence could do.  For some, homesickness made the imprint of memories stronger.  She had never been homesick–her brand of sentimentality never allowed it.  All she had done was waved goodbye, let go, faced forward, and jumped head-first into a singular adventure of her own making.

Now in the kitchen, she peered through the blinds.  Much of her time here had been spent looking, staring, observing with intention.  She searched the evergreens in the distance, eyes stopping only once they lit upon her favorite building in the town.  In the summertime it was not visible; the foliage of cottonwood trees lining the back fence of the parking lot obscured the view.  But now, during the winter, the bare bones of the trees framed the castle with their phalanges.  It was tiny at this distance, even though she could reach it in fifteen minutes on foot if she left the apartment right now.  Its cone roof, slate grey against the sky.  Although she could not see it, she knew the lake, its face undisturbed, provided the perfect backdrop.  At night it was obsidian, reflecting the lights of the town.  In the long summer days it was wreathed with her favorite lupines in purple, pink and white.  The flowers and the lake were etched into her arm by a tattoo artist named Sanni.  The short-lived pain of carrying this special spot with her seemed a small price to pay.

She would miss this place. She felt a sadness that enveloped her entire being.  It was so powerful that she had to hold her breath to push it down.  She no longer knew where she belonged; too removed from her previous life, not enough invested in this one to plant herself firmly in a land of strangers who welcomed her as a curiosity.  There was no place that felt like home.  She wondered if there ever would be, and who she would have to become to find it.

(written 12 january 2018)

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no. 96

sometimes

sometimes, in my quietest of moments

when i’m making the porridge

or cleaning the fridge

that’s when everything makes sense;

thoughts come together, an amalgamation

life is more than forward processions

joy runneth over in simple decisions

breath finds center, no suffocation;

floating, only tethered to the ground by my shoes

the sights and sounds of the everyday

i take them in and give them stay

in my home of a heart, right next to my blues

 

sometimes, in silent spaces filled with thought

when i inhale the perfume of a full-blown lilac

the sun bright sky a dome of blue shellac

existence wraps around me, a comfortable knot;

everything makes sense, no tragedy

essence of peace distilled in a precious drop

it will water seeds of happiness, the only crop

worth the pursuit of life’s husbandry;

in the cultivation of such momentary bliss

i quietly observe tendrils’ stretch towards suns’ rays

shriveled leaves of hopes long left to perish

alongside sturdy stems of achievements cherished

 

sometimes, immersed in moving meditation

when wandering limbs complete daily rituals

or the spirit requires soul-nourishing victuals

that’s the time of silent celebration;

everything is found in a single breath

all’s abuzz, the body tingling,

goose-flesh rises and blood is singing

at once joy and sadness, life and death;

the duality of these sometimes that i find

has an overwhelming and liberating effect

i will not hide from it, i will not decathect

i will attend it, grow it strong within my mind

(written 25 may 2018)

no. 95

This feeling

It settles upon me in layers

(This feeling)

I feel inexorably weighted down

Inseparable from the heaviness of being

Multiple things simultaneously

(These feelings)

I cannot discern happiness from sadness

My body does not know the vocabulary

I am stagnant, yet I wish to move

(These feelings)

Maybe I can stretch my arms and legs like so

And my brain will memorize the choreography

even as I cannot replicate it, maybe I am too old

(These feelings)

What do I do with this body

This bag of muscles and bones that operates

By the grace of the principles of tensegrity

(This feeling)

It is decided:  I will expand

My spirit will not be held by structural paradigms

It will harness those feelings and break free.

(written 21 november 2017)

no. 67

i have been reading and writing so much love poetry lately that i feel the universe must be in dire need of it…so here’s another one.

love poem number 6

if all the unwritten love poetry in the world

were compiled, anthologized, immortalized

in a tome of vast proportions,

would there be a single page there for our love?

 

could anything come close to describing

the way our hearts speak to one another

a strange dialect among languages,

that no one but us can hear or understand?

 

how can such emotion be laid bare upon the page

exposed, dissected, analyzed

by overly sure literary critics,

why would we let it suffer their gaze?

 

if i were to read all the love poetry in the world

searching for the verse that whispers this is it

a true rendering of you and me,

i would only find it written in my own heart.

(written 17 december 2017)

no. 66

Winsome wildness

It is a wild heart reckless with abandon

That selfishly pursues its own desires

Willing to accept foolhardy consequences

With a shrug and a single glance

Before facing future without further hesitation

 

My stalwart heart is too ensconced in propriety

Bound by the self-imposed honor of commitment

If only it could be convinced to live without regret

And take karma by its scales of judgment

Flinging it to the wind remorselessly

 

But it waits for the moment hoping time will not run out

Only then will it spring free of its fetters

Shed its disguise

And become what it’s truly meant to be.

(written 23 january 2018)

no. 62

one hundred years from now,

if someone were interested

he would find

strange evidence

bits of conversations

nonsequitors

unrelated photographs

dreams in the cloud

but if, like a sleuth

he pondered the connections

he could resurrect

reconnect the dots

to make ley lines

converging, merging

until, with the clarity

of a true clairvoyant gazing

into an empty orb

he would see, with his mind’s eye

the truth of our friendship

(written 14 february 2018)

no. 61

(i must admit, i am unabashedly sappy in this poem–also, i’m a sucker for the marvel of the human body)

envy

a bead of sweat follows its

preordained path

and comes to rest just shy

of the nexus between your ulna and

lateral carpals.

is it wrong, that i am envious?

 

as in that old song

from a time of mellow grooves

and emotional kitsch

the cosmos seems to revolve

around you

ever desiring that closeness

just like me

 

but i prefer the earthly

the corporeal comparisons

even as i adore

the heavenly constellations

in the dizzying greatness of the passing sky

and so i peruse my encyclopedia

of anatomical maps

searching

 

i become expert in palpation

familiarizing myself with differences

ligaments and tendons

cartilage and bones

muscles and organs

the workings of that universe

just so that i may perceive

you more physically

more accurately

 

that i may divine how best to

insinuate myself into

your sinew and viscera

to house myself at the

cusp that joins

the physical to the spiritual

 

perhaps at the solar plexus

not the heart, as one might imagine

i marvel at the roadways that

carry nervous impulse

and wish that i could travel those

same paths

but they are too complex for me to

wrap myself around

 

so i focus outward

allowing my gaze to follow

the external path

of that moisture that travels

so leisurely, languidly

to find its place on your wrist

 

and then i catch it with my finger

and the closeness of that touch

is just enough

(written 6 november 2017)