On my way, to the mailbox

I like the way moss grows

between the cracks in the sidewalk.

 

I like how houses look during the day

quiet and patient

waiting for their people to return.

 

I like how airplanes leave shallow cuts in the clouds.

I like the way sun shines through the dead trees with the dead leaves that cling to them.

 

I don’t like ants

or their houses.

I avoid them as much as I can.

Blue, as in…

I was snapping sugar peas in the kitchen; and she was helping.

The TV was on and quiet and flashing all sorts of images – oranges and yellows and greens and reds – from the den, but nothing in our immediate environment could have prompted the following, bright-eyed question:

“Mommy, what does blue taste like?”

Justifiably, my eyebrows furrowed when I looked at her, “What, as in…blueberries? Or, I don’t know, blueberries?”

“No, blue. Like the color.”

“Oh.” I said, as if that made it any clearer.

“Um, well…there are many different tints, tones, and shades of blue in the world; which ‘blue’ do you mean?”

Justifiably, her face scrunched when she looked at me, “the normal kind?”

“Ah.” I said, feeling both proud and ashamed of myself for being such a smart-ass and getting away with it.

“So, ‘blue’-blue. Primary blue – Cobalt Blue, as some might call it. Hm, let me think…”

We snapped and sorted; the TV blinked, blinked, blinked…

“To me, it tastes like winter. Hard and icy and shallow; bright and refreshing. Like drinking cold, filtered water after hours of play – all bundled up in hats and coats and scarves and gloves. That all sheds and you’re left panting bursts of little white clouds in your jeans and boots, long-sleeves and long-johns. You take a big swig and slowly swallow it all, and you almost gasp with sweet relief – you’d no idea how thirsty you were! And you laugh and warm your face in the sun; eyes closed and smiling and breathing a little less hard…”

I breathed through my nose and stood, transferring the washed and shelled peas to the pot to let them simmer; brushed my hands together and placed one on my hip, one on the counter.

“What does blue taste like to you?”

She breathed through her nose; eyes glazed over, brows furrowed, then gasped and smiled up at me.

“I think it tastes like winter too!”

I held out my hand, we high-fived, and I said, “Right on.”

Down-playing the love I had for that moment’s contribution to my temporary relevance; after all, eventually, she’ll be in high school.

Queue the sad, sad sounds of my life-force fading slowly through my eyes in the form of suppressed, late-night tears.

Pay me no mind.

Where’s Daddy?

She stops in the middle of it all

and asks,

“Where’s Daddy?”

 

You’ve got this.

 

“Close your eyes,” I say in my most mystical, calming voice.

“Daddy is in the trees.”

I crumble some dirt into her palms, “He’s in the soil beneath our feet. He’s in all the flowers and plants; he’s in the air we breathe, and in the light from the sun that warms our skin. He’s in every moment shared between you and me. Daddy’s stardust, just like every living thing.”

I touch her face, she opens her eyes.

I smile, “Can you see him?”

She squints and sniffs, her knees bobbing, “No.”

“Can you feel him?”

She sighs through her nose, loud and impatient, “You can just tell me if he’s dead you know. I’m not gonna cry about it.” She drops the dirt and brushes her hands against her jeans.

“Oh…Ok. Well -”

“Ugh, never mind,” she continues walking, “you take forever.”

I take a few steps and catch her shoulder, “It really doesn’t upset you?”

She turns to me, bright eyes and set mouth with a slight upward curl at the ends, “No Momma.”

“But – I mean that’s good! That’s good, I’m glad, but…why? Why not?”

She holds my hand, like I hold hers when I’m about to make her feel real stupid, “Cause I met him in a dream.”

God knows I tried to stop my eyebrows from raising, my mouth from forming a silent ‘Ohhh’ as I tried to keep my head from tilting back.

She sighs and drops my hand.

“No no, wait wait wait wait wait, just a minute!”

“You don’t believe me.”

“Bae, I just told you your Daddy’s in the doggone trees not a minute ago, of course I’mma believe you. What was your dream?” I swallow, “W-what did he say?”

She stares at me, observing something I didn’t want her to see, “How did he die?”

Sharp breath.

I wasn’t aware I was shaking my head until she spoke again, “Will you ever tell me?”

“Yes.”

She holds my hand a little tighter and I want to cry.

“Ok,” she swings our hands, starting to walk, “I can wait.”

I crouch and turn her towards me, trying for but a whisper to ask her again.

She touches my face, I close my eyes, “He smiled and we played, then he told me he loves us. And then I woke up.”

She kisses my forehead and snuggles my neck.

I scoop her up and continue our walk, the sun warming our skin.

New Skin Forming

I count the seconds…

one

two

moments I am flooded with endorphins,

until the madness comes

and I take to the bumps

flakes

and scaly scars in discolored patches on my arms and neck –

on this…

on my skin!

 

What’s happened to you?

Why are you acting like this?

So familiar and foreign…

 

Is it me?

 

What can I do to make you feel better?

What can I soak you in,

dry you with,

clean you with,

moisturize you…or do you no longer like that?

 

I know,

I need to stay calm – should I be smoking weed?

No?

Well then help me understand!

I am so sick of this pain!

This reprieve!

Pain!

Pain!

Pain!

This…(exacerbated scream)!

 

This itch.

050916

I dreamt about a fox pup that kept getting into my Auntie’s house.

I would catch it, every time, and stuff its mouth with a sock so it wouldn’t bite and throw it, literally, back outside; every time.

Then, it would cough up the sock and pad around the plants in the front yard, then sneak its way back inside – starting the whole snafu all over again.

I felt two ways about this.

I didn’t want to hurt the pup, one, and two, I didn’t want it anywhere near me because I know how dangerous they can be…I think.

And I kept wondering what it was looking for inside the house?

Surely there were plenty of spaces between the plants in both the front and back yards in which to burrow for the night?

I shrugged, perhaps not.

And the thing is, even though we clearly struggled against each other, we weren’t really struggling all that hard – and we looked each other right in the eye when we did.

Straight in the eye.

I go back to that dream now, still, trying hard to understand.

The pup comes in, and this time, I stare at her.

Simply stare.

And now, she stares right back at me.

And that is how this dream shall end, if I should ever dream the dream again.

Counting

Some days,

when the main roads are full,

GPS re-routes me and I roam the backroads.

 

My twin and I have a game we like to play.

No name for it, just counting.

 

We count how many cotton fields,

we count how many churches,

we count how many schools, corn fields, and we count how many gas stations.

 

But on these roads,

and on this day,

I count alone.

 

And I come across a house,

half-buried in the ground.

The windows are black and gaping,

the roof shambled and kissing earth – a true reclamation, by nature.

 

Leave it to the mind to do what it does best;

a dramatic rebuild of time’s awesome mess in the blink of an eye.

The house is now upright and there’s glass and window panes.

A man and his wife rock with slate faces

on their front porch.

I nod to them, as the image instantly fades,

and continue our counting game:

27 cotton fields

4 schools

18 corn fields

3 gas stations

12 churches