Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Loom

It is too pretty for plain prose. 
So sweet that smiles below my nose 
curve and spread like an awakened rose.  
Oh how my weak cheeks ache! 
My molecular cells move in the wake 
Of a storm-bound salty lake
pummeling the shores of my boots,
threatening to flood the dirt chutes
of our childhood of unripened fruit
where screamed songs from all of our might,
Whined gripes, slaps and silly fights
For baby doll rights   
Obstructed the room 
---with infantile gloom---
where love thread itself on an ancient loom. 

Now, my sister, our harlequin cloth, 

far thicker than any dirty brown moth,
warms me like spicy vegetable broth.
To look at you, a woman, more now than me
(as you cultivate a child in the bowl of your belly) 
warms this winter where I am far from you and lonely.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oh how I love this man.

The country isn't going anywhere, he reminds me. The trees are stuck to their roots. The river too vast to dry up. Your friends too busy living to be leaving. For now anyway. There is no real hurry besides the voice in your head screaming for you to escape the city. He's right. Besides, I don't completely hate it here. If I had more time I'd be beside the lake listening to the wind, but night falls so early now, interrupting afternoon, and the weekends have been so wet with rain. After work, I never want to leave the apartment, collapsing onto the couch, warming the coffee table with my dinner plate. There we talk and watch television and movies on our computer. So typical. So American. But that's who we are. After we eat, our lengthy legs twist into braids, my head on his chest, my lips puckering, pressing the prickly brown beard he's grown and groomed. That long face, those deep set eyes. Oh how I love this man. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Time's Precious Coliseum

I press the soles of my boots into my bicycle's black plastic pedals. Long legs churning, cheeks burning, I cycle through the city to the wide blue lake where the wind whips clouds into fast flight and grins from strangers greet my eyes for fleeting meetings. Above my willed wheels, my cotton grey skirt flutters with a false frantic jealousy for the wings of distant gulls. My denim jacket holds me tight with its locked brass buttons, while leggings preserve the integrity of my goose pimpled knees. Violet yarn--stitched and braided with buttons--cradles my cranium where a nest of wispy hair and pins surround a floppy bun ready to birth out of its elastic shell. 

Nine miles pass beneath me before I arrive at the Art Institute of Chicago where moss colored lions guard the magnificent Michigan Avenue entrance. I lock my bicycle beside a garden of trees where a woman takes pictures and, in the distance, a waterless fountain of bowls and ladies stands still in statue motion. I climb the cement steps. Down below, beside a streetlight on the sidewalk, a saxophone is blown by a bending body in a coat and cap.

"Is there a birthday discount?" I ask the young lady at the ticket counter. 
"Aw, no. I wish we did! This is a great way to spend your birthday."
I give her my paper money, saying something about how I don't mind paying and that I just thought I'd ask. I take my ticket and museum map and walk through the ropes. I press buds into my ears, layering the chatter of strangers with song. To celebrate my thirty years, I am giving my mind, eyes and heart a little color and culture. A little uninterrupted attention for the eyes that always open, the thoughts that never slow and the heart that tirelessly beats and swells.   
Eventually, after much strolling and staring, I find Monet, Cezanne and Renoir's pieces. Inside perfectly tarnished gold and rustic, wavy wooden frames, I find rich blots of crimson, lined swipes of royal blues and delicate olive vines. These impressionist paintings are like the ripe fruit often found within them: saturated with sweet vibrant life. They make me hunger for ripe plums, tomatoes and the humidity that sweats my clothes, pinks my skin and curls my hair. For fields of flowers and garden parties, lace collared dresses and a bare lake with the reflection of tall trees and sky. For haystacks and cornfields, rock rimmed mountains and curved rivers.  

I drift along the parquet floors for three and half hours, inhaling the ghost of time. In her precious coliseum, time keeps her souvenirs safe for spectators to see. Come one, come all. Witness the proof of my travels. She says. But don't stretch past the ropes, you must keep your distance, do not touch and please, no flash photography. 

"What is happening right now?"

Scott holds his bronze bicycle as he exits our building's back door to the sidewalk. Penny tries to get outside at the same time as him, but when he lowers his bicycle, the back tire bumps her on the head, frightening her to backpedal toward me where I stand on the last blue stair. In my left hand, I hold the stretched orange handle of a garbage bag, sunken with sodden food scraps. In my right hand, I hold the leash. Outside on the sidewalk, I almost comment on how warm it still is out when I notice strange activity happening where we are about to walk. A dark car has just pulled into our alley, engine running, doors opening. Two men get out. The driver draws something, a gun. No, not a gun. I'm just imagining that because I have the tendency to worry the worst. No, wait, it is a gun. It's a gun! A metal murdering machine is pointed at a person in our alley. The alley I walk past daily. "What is happening right now?" I ask Scott who is turning right and telling me to follow. "But I can't--I have the trash." As if whoever is in the alley will be offended if they see I am avoiding them. I look back as we walk. The man with the gun is now patting down the guy he stopped. They say something to him and let him walk away. "What is happening right now?" I ask again, my heart stretching from beneath my ribs like a caged bird in a factory farm, overgrown and crippled from fear. We pause at the end of our block. The man who was just stopped by the undercover police officers is now walking toward us. His headphones are back on his ears. I fear him, though I know that isn't fair. He must be more frightened than me. Penny is growling and trying to get at him. I fumble. The dog leash and trash bag in hands, pulling me down, tangling my legs. We are walking toward the alley now. The officers are gone. We walk to our dumpster. Penny is on the prowl, pulling me. We stand together in our neighborhood recently rendered rancid, smelly from the stench of our exhausted adrenal glands. 

Scott leaves on his bicycle once he sees I'm inside safe behind the bricks and door bolts of our building.