I see you bee, flower
I see you flower, bee
Come lean on me
come walk in me
give me take me flower, bee
saffron fingered me, you, bee.
Speak softly if you must speak at night.
Sparrows might be preparing to take flight
Finches nestling in for the night
Crickets and katydids are creaking vigorously
Not for you and not for me, so hush and let them be.
Speak softly if you must speak at night.
The breeze is changing direction.
Rain is coming but you would hardly know it.
Worms will rise and robins will strike in purple dawn
before the sun gets in the way
Speak softly if you must speak at night.
You might hear the lamp post lights humming
your very own heartbeat
your lover’s breathing
you can almost hear a fireflies’ wings beating
if only you would speak softly in the night.
Or maybe… do not speak at all.
*dedicated to the neighbors across the street who haven’t a clue what all is going on in the night because they’re too busy saying terrible things to each other they believe is righteous and apropos.
I think my understanding of the concept “holy” evolved somewhere between my first communion and touching the wriggling minnow caught in my net at summer camp. The idea of holy immigrated from an echoey church that smelled of incense and psalms and kneel-dimpled pews to seeing the midnight milky way that night I talked to my bestie on the cordless phone in the middle of the lawn. Holy and me came to have an understanding: It would always be secret, it would always be available, and it promised to make me feel (something) and I would know it when I seen it.
Holy was no longer frankincense escaping its decanter like jinn from a lamp, no more a captive in a flying-buttress box. Holy became ancient fallen trees brought to their knees by hurricane Gloria. A waterfall you cannot see unless you hike five miles in. Bowls cut into rocks for sweet, clean drinking. The white flash of space between midnight and dawn in an Arizona bowl. My son’s smile while he slept on my couch. My friend’s dying. Rescuing box turtles as they crossed trafficky asphalt in pursuit of their home. Curtains of fireflies rising from hot summer grass, signaling secrets on four- and sometimes eight-horsepower wings. A stranger paying for her formula at the checkout counter because she ran out of Wic. Listening to a stranger’s broken heart because it’s all he needed.
I’m not sure you believe in the word holy, except for maybe that one time you saw the moon on the walkway. I think you do what you do and holy never crosses your mind. But I believe you felt it in your fingers when you plucked the katydid from the parking lot and put her in the grass. Holy is in you. Poetry is in you. I weep because I see it and you doubt, you refuse to believe. Holy is available to us all, every day, all the time, no sacrament required. We just have to keep our eyes open, allow ourselves to see.
They claim the sun rose this morning but I didn’t see it, so I do not believe. I stood there beneath gray cotton candy clouds, moving fast, studying the horizon, but the orb that never fails to emerge hot from the wet horizon did not appear. Science and my phone app says the sun rose 10 minute ago, but why should I believe?
A day has passed and I write this piece in the dark because I like to write by laptop light. (Yes, go ahead, sing that song, you know the one.) I like watching the night sky change clothes. On clear nights the sky turns black to daylight in un-nameable shades. I arose this morning when the sky was still black, not the deep space black of the void, but the black of a world filled with light filtered through clouds. The courtyard lights bathe the world in a pale orange glow. I chose not to engage the beach this morning because heavy clouds will keep me from seeing the orb. I will have to have faith that the sun did rise though I did not see it.
And now, the courtyard lights extinguish themselves one by one, but the sky in the west remains gray. The cat lady wins the Oscar for best Cat Lady actress once again, ostentatiously farewelling her cat, chin up, wide smile, floating down the balcony to her car, getting ready to face another day. I suppose that means the sun rose, but I didn’t see it.
A school bus pulls out of the lot next door, its roof strobe flashing brightly in the murk telling me it’s carrying another load of angels and demons. I suppose that means the sun rose, but I’m not sure I believe it.
Faith asks a lot of me. It walks hand in hand with science and superstition. My neighbors make their way down to the parking lot, hands filled with garbage bags and pizza boxes, remains of their week. I know what I see, or so I believe.
morning crickets, disorganized, a messy symphony, out of time and tune like a first grade choir. they are young and vigorous, excited, eeping out of time like i’ve never heard before and we love them, dearly love them, dabbing our eyes with pride and ready for more.
green water with long whitecaps in the bay, ambassadors to the hurricane’s arrival. white sky turned gray for days, cloud processionals form impressive figures like gray knitted blankets, then icebergs moving fast in a distilled sunset sky that dispenses piss water instead of whisky.
i hear you. i hear you all. i allowed you to take over me like some drunk uncle at the barbecue who knows better. our burgers were adequate, filled our stomachs but we really didn’t want cheese on ours and not exactly burnt on one side. it all works out in the end because we’re family and we take what we get, even after I told you all to fuck off because i can’t take your flag-waving bullshit anymore. We’re a family. I can do better, and so can we.
my anger is constant. it simmers long and sometimes a bubble pops and you get hit with the spray of “fuck off,” a little stain on your favorite faded t-shirt or that gauzy thing you wore for the first time today. i try to keep her in check, in the cauldron, but after 16 days, sometimes it goes critical and that nicey girl, the one you thought was so well spoken and decent and measured bursts and she… she will not forget it. she’s been wrestling your vipers and her vipers. my unwieldy elbows knocks the cauldron over and now another job: own the disaster. the strife. the discord, the worry, the ransom, the fear, the woman, the apple, the evil, the world. I mop up the bloody mess and wring the rags out into the cauldron to begin again. again.
then i seek to breathe. to hold. to measure. to examine and find a way to spread the peace. the love. the wonder. the beauty. the magic. the grace. the harmony. the creation. to own and love and share that thing i cannot see that made me and made you and reach for your fingertips in our birth and in our death, the turning wheel that pricked my finger and gave me a sword to fight my own dragons.
Momma said if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. I believe she was so right, so very right. But when you believe, you need to stand for it, all the way, not stare at your toes and be a neutral pussy. Take a stand, make a change, have courage in your convictions, and fuck what your father thinks. Our future isn’t about measuring mother wounds, and it isn’t about lobby money and power. It’s about people rising up and telling the world the world matters, YOU matter, everything on it matters, we can do better, and I will walk with you peacefully, barefoot, and speak for you loudly, peacefully, forcefully. Otherwise, my silence means I accept the wrongs, the ill-doings, the damage, the hurt, the shoulder-shrugging extinctions.
Be brave, my fellow humans. Be brave and be kind and be giving. Be tolerant. Be listening. Be strong. Be happy. Be comforted. Be loving, and be one. Be ready to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves. Stand your ground not for us but our earth and life that we cannot yet imagine will come because our time here is already done. The future is fragile and we can sow the seeds to make it beautiful-strong. Put love on your tongue. It’s not impossible. We are right and good and brave as we walk barefoot through all of our dust. Bless you for taking a knee and asking for the wisdom to discern what matters.
Weather and I have had a contentious relationship since I was a kid ranging from Godzilla/Tornado nightmares brought on by the usual suspects to blizzards that ruined birthdays and snowstorms that activated my asthma. I had a thunderstorm phobia for a very long time, but it lessened after I had been outside in them, my tender parts exposed to lash of the lightning, deafening thunder, but … it didn’t kill me. It was time to let go of the terror.
I remember Mom Mom showing me the dryer lid, cratered and black like the mare of the moon, courtesy of ball lightning. I remember one vicious storm when my son was a baby, still bottle feeding, its intensity was singular. I sat in the middle of the living room, holding him, watching the lightning blind the world. One stroke was so bright and powerful I thought for sure it hit a tree outside, but no. Everything was okay. I recall a thunderstorm in Tennessee whose presence could only be the Stone Giants from Tolkiens’ Hobbit. There could be no other explanation for the gashing and cracking that would surely send our cabin into the ravine.
Living here on the Chesapeake bay I have learned that there are no buffers between us and the weather. No big buildings, no hills, trees or mountains to buffer the fury of the lightning and accompanying thunder. There were only a couple of mouthy lightning storms last year, so I learned how to deal with it: sleep on the couch with a light on. Yesterday I heard we were going to get some rain around 4AM, okay, no biggie, but there was no severe weather predicted. Right around 5:30 a thunderstorm rolled in. I could hear it through all the windows I keep open now that the temperature is mild. I watched the sky flash with heat lightning and didn’t think much of it, heard a thunder rumble, but I got up, got dressed, and went outside to survey anyway. And then the real shit started.
I sat at the table near my windows and watched the lightning vary from silent flashing somersaults, cloud bling, to a little more aggressive light and a thunder reply. Then the lightning decided to take victims, spears of anger, random, or not random, striking or not striking but blinding and angry nonetheless. Thunder, lightning’s handmaid, tore everything, followed instantly or sometimes with a respectful pause. (No one steals lightning’s thunder, are you kidding?) I stood in my bedroom doorway and watched the lightning seek ground for victims, all our ears in these buildings alert, at attention, and changing our morning routines because no one can sleep through this. The wind became strong and the rain followed, but this is nothing. This activity was more dangerous than a hurricane, and I managed through a hurricane which is a lot of heavy wind and drenching rain, but not lightning that’s stalking blinded, deafened victims. I stood in a doorway away from the windows, phone in my pocket, because this was a fight club like I’d never seen before, and even my neighbors who’ve lived here a decade said the same: Sounds like somebody’s bombing the naval base. I made my peace with god because I felt like this one was going to tear off the top of us, and that is saying something. The storm was a procession of M80s in front of of us, on top of us, behind us, unannounced, blinding, and paving the way for a ripping thunder that claws its way from sky down below the foundations of this building, the floor shaking beneath my feet. And it takes so long for the worst to pass. One last grenade and it’s done. Wasn’t it? Then the birds started to tweet, the usual suspects at this half-dark time of morning, giving absolutely no f*cks that their tree was on the death star radar. Yeah. Figures. One last M80, like a final eff-you to the area, and all that was left was rain.