“… the world is new.”

“In memory yet green, in joy still felt,
The scenes of life rise sharply into view.
We triumph; Life’s disasters are undealt,
And while all else is old, the world is new.”

– Isaac Asimov


It’s 6:21 in the morning, and I’m dressed for work. I’ve been up since 3:11 am, which is not that unusual for me. I’ve done 40 minutes at the gym, watched a bunch of football highlights, put out the garbage and recycling, and read a few work emails in the last 3 hours. I normally would already be at work, but something is wrong with my car, so I’m waiting until 7 when the auto repair place opens to bring it by.

I think it would be hard for most people to imagine living my life; but then, I think it’s hard to imagine living anyone else’s life. Most of us could not have imagined that we would live the lives we have lived. This is because life is big and full of randomness, and by “randomness” I mean, things outside of our control.

Most of us authors / introverts are kind of control freaks: in our works, we can make things come out like we want them to. This is rarely true in actual life.

This time last year, I was sitting beside my mother’s hospice bed in Green Valley, Arizona. The almost three weeks I spent there are a part of me now. My mother’s view of life was that we are all just links in the chain: she had seen her parents pass, and they had seen theirs, and so on.

I think seeing her three children made it easier for her at the end (we were taking turns, several weeks at a time). She said to me, at the end of a day when she’d mostly slept, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

I grew up near the beach in Northwest Florida, the youngest of her three kids. We still have photos of a time my parents took us out to the beach in the fall, just to take pictures.

And yes, it was warm enough to go barefooted. I was, I believe, 6 or 7 years old.

My mother’s journey took her from upstate New York all over the world. My mother-in-law, who lives in town and is ninety-one years old, was born here after her family fled Russia/Poland to escape antisemitism. She’s lived a life impossible to imagine, although I ask her about it every chance I get.

Life is a great chain, I think: we are all connected, both back through our ancestors and to each other. But each link is still different, with unique memories and experiences.

And while we can’t fully imagine each other’s lives, it’s worth trying.

Incantation

We ran and played until the night;
Our shouts rang out across the beach,
And though exhausted, wanted more,
As headed to our houses, each

Would say aloud, “I wish we’d stayed.”
To parents smiling in the front,
Before we fell asleep ere long,
And dreamed of trick, and tale, and stunt

And words repeated, endlessly:
Our play, a joy, a revelation —
Running, jumping, singing songs,
With breath-filled childhood

An incantation

A Dating Story

We walked along pretending
That we, too, owned boats.
We each barely owned shoes,
But we looked good, we thought:
For our particular brand of penury
Has never hurt the young.

She was very blonde, her family
Swedish, but her skin looked like
It didn’t care for sun that much.
She wore a hat, her blonde hair blowing
Everywhere around its edges, and
Behind her sunglasses.

I was bright in my array, and
Proud of who I walked with, although
Perhaps it wasn’t as rare an occurrence
For her as I might have thought at the time.
No matter: she was with me, when she was,
And there we were.

We split a Coke late in the day,
With change I’d found in the sofa cushions,
And rode my old car back to town,
Where I dropped her off so she could get ready
To go to work at the theater.

If you are wondering why
Our particular date didn’t really have anything like
Events in it, so did I, after almost every date.

But as stories go,
It has at least the merit
Of being true

that day, perfect

that day, perfect,
scent of roses,
autumn gentle,
leaves a carpet,
she in pink, and i
enraptured,
in the park,
a light breeze blowing,
words all heard, and
newness piercing,
bits of smile,
growing laughter,
hands first touching,
soft and glowing,
dogs out watching,
trees all knowing
what’s to come and
what’s to be,
moments felt
completely.

that day, stillness,
walking, aimless,
universe on us
seemed focused,
distant voices
all seemed joyful,
studying the leaves
our hobby,
in the park expanse
secluded,
interweaving,
dancing manners,
first respect and
halting planners,
every detail
still i see —
times you feel

completely

The Storm Was All Around Us

We watched the clouds roll in that day
Cross-legged in the sand;
We heard the distant thunder
Sitting huddled, hand-in-hand –

Until the rain was on us,
Then we kissed and up we rose;
Ran in the rain to my place
Where we shed our sodden clothes –

Before, we’d been “long-distance”,
So then this weekend was it —
We’d spend the time together, and
See just how well we fit –

The waves were high and crashing
In the sea right near my place;
I felt her warm breath on me
As I touched her still-wet face –

Beneath the raging skies we burned
And boiled, desperately —
And on-and-off, back on again
Experimentally

And oh, we tried, with all we had,
Our demons to outrun:
The storm was all around us, though –

In far more ways

Than one


[Alternately titled “Remembering My First Real… Long-Distance Relationship”]

Forest 2019

We live in a forest now,
With deer in the yard most days.
I work in the tallest building in town,
And from there you can see —
This whole city is a forest.

I am watching the sun go down tonight,
And wondering:

Why is it joy
Cannot be enough?
When did I get
So enamored with stuff?

How is it I
Do not sleep for long?
Why’s the will so weak,
And the longing so strong?

I remember when freedom was enough.

I remember how it felt to be connected to life.

I recall the decisions, and the changes that lead me here.

I’ve known what it is to regret, and to wish I could change the past.

So many trees, with so many branches,
So many years in the forest green:
So many ways that a heart can be broken
So many trees that fall down

Unseen