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)

Advertisements

no. 103

reappear

have you wondered where i have been

lurking in corners, fallen off the earth

or have i given myself too much importance

?

the messy center of my own universe

suddenly withdrawn, retracted, only to reappear

when all is quiet

and the weightiness of life has fallen off my shoulders

when things are less messy

and i feel more centered in this universe

that doesn’t really belong to me

unable to string together simile or metaphor

no figurative language to describe

my current state of being

except to say, oh, how i have missed you

will you know i have returned

?

will you open your arms

accept my non-apology

a silent sliver on the tip of my

once silver tongue

treat me like it never happened

?

written 24 july 2018

 

no. 102

monday

does the universe hold something against monday

an artificial organization of time has doomed that day

to be forever vilified by all but eager-to-please school children

and those who have no sense of the ordering of calendars

long ago before gregory and julius

before the compartmentalization of time

we rose with the sun and lived by the cycles of the moon

and monday never existed

i wonder were we happier then, or merely not as disappointed

by the passage of time and the inevitability of its running out

were we still obsessed with busy-ness and weighted down

by expectations unfulfilled

did accomplishments mean anything

or did we just exist

(written 16 april 2018)

no. 101

june at 60.9929° n, 24.4590° e

today i had to look for my cold-weather sweater

but settled for a spring cardigan, a light leather jacket

it seems that summer has deemed this region beneath her

and, deciding to abandon us for more appropriate latitudes

has given over to the swift siberian winds blowing from the east

green things protest, even the plants on the sill

have shriveled up overnight by the open window

which only yesterday provided relief from the heavy heat

the trees are no match for the tortuous gale

they relinquish twigs reluctantly, screaming and moaning

and i must don the winter coat i had only just shed

in the shallows of a sun-warmed lake

we thought it would last, that heat that toasted our bones

that coaxed thin pearls of perspiration from our upper lips

it made us want to discard the lightest clothing

and prance around in the nude by the water’s edge

it made us human again after such a long season as

bundled-up bears, hibernating, grumbling in our somnambulist

strides from place to place, awaiting the rare golden months

when we could bask, if only for a little while

(written 4 june 2018)

mundane musing the thirty-seventh

partner-less

i am the finder of lost socks

when you live in a country this far north

hand-knit socks, lonely or in pairs

 

abandoned

 

are uncovered when the last of the snow has melted

they reappear in bushes and on roadsides

i wonder how their owners parted with them

they remind me that

winter always hides under spring

 

once, i picked up a discovered sock

(it was fashioned in my favorite colorway)

and against my better judgement

washed it and imagined turning it

into something useful, more beautiful:

 

a hobby horse

a cellphone holder

a sock monkey

 

much as winter snow

gives way to spring flowers

(written 30 april 2018)

now that 100 is breached…

…i’m going to take a little hiatus

dear readers, this will only be a break of sorts.  by this, i mean that i will not post every day, but only as the spirit moves me.  there’s a lot of exciting transitioning going on in my neck of the woods, so i may be distracted.  and of course, in the mean time, i will indeed be reading and writing poetry to keep in form.  and then, when i least expect it, there will be time to post every day again…

cheers!

mariahv (hupsutupsu)

no. 98

Return

The return is always quickest.  I remember this from childhood days spent on long-distance road trips

Sun-bleached asphalt and faded reflective paint unfurling behind and ahead under new tires

The smell of freshly washed and vacuumed automobile all tuned up just for the journey

Gazing out of the windows

Observing as clean and shiny and fresh slowly transmogrified into bug-spattered and dusty and musty

The hours seemed to drag on so I’d sleep, head cocked to the side and mouth wide open

The destination just one more hour away no matter what time it was

Bolting for the rest-stop

The arrival was unimportant.  What we did once there has dissolved in the soup of time

We must have enjoyed ourselves because I never anticipated the return

I just wished for the freedom of the unknown for just a while longer, long enough to tire of it

Repacking the car

The return is always quickest.  It’s just a trick of the mind, really, the familiarity of the road

The forest-lined highways seemed to greet us genially, like they knew we’d been there before

Are all journeys like this, I wonder, now that I look backward in time

Saying hello to home

The arrival was unimportant.  No fanfare, just fact; the daily grind would resume tomorrow

Clothes dumped unceremoniously into the washer as we searched for things left behind

But somewhere there, perhaps in the comfort of my own bed, I was glad of the return.

(written 23 may 2018)