Fire

Fire
I dreamt last night I was a volcano,
but afraid of my own power
I erupted bitterness instead of fire

The neglected dog two doors down
is a different heat
and it burns my belly to imagine him there
under the hot light of a back porch

Night winds cool the winds of the day
that are harsher in their own way
the sun swept around in the branches
is mad there is no shadows
and basks the leaves in a blinding light

Rose and D

“We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” ~Eeyore

When she was ten, Rose lived near the old lake town, on a single road just across from the road where the willow tree lived. Many years later, Rose would occasionally sing the old story song “Bury me beneath the willow tree,” passed down by the late Almeda Riddle, to remind her of that tree down the road.

Rose lived with her boozy mother in an old apartment, and her brothers and sisters who she sometimes lived with, and sometimes didn’t. They were more like ghosts, she will recall later on. She knew they existed, but they were really never there; just phantoms that appeared and reappeared, with their usual scorn for her, the eighth child.

Rose lived her life by landmarks – the willow tree, the corner grocer, the relics of the old mining town, and a donkey named D in a field across from her apartment.

D was a large donkey with long, untamed fur, and large brown eyes with eyelashes for days. D never wore a halter, and was kind and gentle.

She didn’t visit D every day, only when she thought to. Their relationship was composed of Rose scratching D’s nose if D let her, and if D got tired of that, would saunter back toward the shade.

It was a mutually lonely existence; Rose on the hot cement outside the fence, and D standing in the dead grass on the other side. Whenever Rose approached the fence, D trotted excitedly over to the fence, and then would exhale an unspoken “oh.” The friendship did not yield an escape from the fields, or an apple or two, but it was there, nonetheless.

Feathering the nest

I saw a crow building a nest, I was watching him very carefully, I was kind of stalking him and he was aware of it. And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be? They build a decoy nest. It’s just for you.

~Tom Waits

I was remarking the other day to the other half that we are so like birds, but so unlike them. Birds make their nest to make a family, but then the young are booted out fairly soon after they are born, (depending on the species), to go live their amazing bird lives. Europeans also enjoy the life of birds. Most spend very little time in the homes they’ve built, as they are out enjoying the surrounding sunshine and trees.

People in the U.S., unless they are as rich as peacocks, stay trapped inside, feathering their nests even when there’s no need for it. They get fatter as they fly less, and more afraid of the unknown. Conversations are stilted, awkward, or a mockingbird’s mimicry. Life doesn’t flow, and the songs aren’t from the heart.

Life hasn’t flowed for me in a long time, but I’m finding my rivers again.

I recently finished feathering my nest; my former room for my parrots was converted to a writing room. It’s minimalist: walls the color of blue hydrangeas, two black chairs (one for reading and one for writing), and a black wooden desk. No art except for a ceramic bird (a nod to all the birds who used to live here), and a Frida Kahlo doll. Eventually there will be a small bed.

It’s peaceful, I love it. It’s just for me. However, I hope I spend very little time in it except when writing. Nature is waiting.

Morning

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

~ Cat Stevens, “Morning Has Broken”

In the morning as light comes through the front window, it’s a piece of art, shaped like little orbs and welcoming a new day. It’s absolutely beautiful.

As I lie, drowsy, I stare up at the ceiling and hear the Bewick’s Wren outside, my new alarm clock. The California Towhee is the syncopation, dotting the wren’s metric.

It fills my heart. My chest expands, and I feel joy. I wish I could lie here forever, and then the crow calls to its family in the park, saying, “it’s time.”

The kitchen window; I see dots on the telephone lines, and I think they are finches. I’m not sure, as my eyes are going.

The dog is not ready. She climbs on to the couch where I’ve been sleeping, and lays her head on my pillow. It’s a perfect Sunday.

Let’s begin again.

 

 

 

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“Ravens are the birds I’ll miss most when I die. If only the darkness into which we must look were composed of the black light of their limber intelligence. If only we did not have to die at all. Instead, become ravens.”

― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

We’re always left to ponder,
where do birds go when they die?
Do they disintegrate in the air,
or return to the ground?

I held my last bird in my hands.
Willie.
As the vet injected him, I was able to pet his head for the first time,
and last.
I told him to say hello to the other birds when he gets there,
but it’s not heaven. Heaven doesn’t exist.
Ether does.
And the souls of all the little birds surround us, in the air beyond the clouds.

We’re always left to ponder,
where do the Ravens go when they die?
Do they, as the saying goes,
become part of the dark sky?
Are they shrouded by the ebony wings of their unkindred,
and die in secret?

Pigeon, I see your feathers on the ground.
Maybe just two with no body, perfectly staged like a killer’s art.
What did you take…
or what was taken from you?

We’re always left to ponder, how does the hummingbird die?
Tiny, fragile, in the cup of a hand,
or drowning in the nectar of a foxglove.