“What do you do?” he asked with wide-eyed anticipation.
“Well, I straighten the living room every morning and clean the kitchen several times a day. I take the puppy out every hour, which is no small task because there are 32 steps per trip. I go to the grocery store and contemplate my purchases of milk, peach iced tea, pop tarts and cereal, hoping it reflects nothing upon my mothering skills. I take pictures of sunsets and pine cones and random leaves in the rain. I laugh with my teen-aged children and find myself wanting to shellac them in place to this very time when I know where they sleep and they’re warm in my house. I write little snippets of thoughts that I don’t call poetry but sometimes can be seen as poetic. Every evening, I listen for the train and it brings me comfort. I share jokes with my husband and miss him when he’s working away from us. Sometimes I make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Occasionally I draw on rocks or cut butterflies out of white paper. I drive with the windows down and Tom Petty playing in the background. I drink coffee with generous amounts of sugar and milk. I clean the bathrooms and don’t particularly enjoy that task although I don’t mind running the vacuum as much as I mind doing the laundry.”
Glassy-eyed and frightened, he walked away.
If I’d have said, “graphic designer” would that have told him what he wanted to know?
After offering ice cream, cotton candy and
wooden roller coaster rides for over 100 years,
the small amusement park saw its last summer season.
There was a look of cheerful hopefulness accompanied
by dilapidated distress in every building, in every
stone walk, in every exaggerated, macabre clown smile.
Defeat was reflected in our gait as we left the park at sundown.
I am struck by the teal color of the wall and the texture of galvanized steel. I am moved by the glint on the screw and remember learning it was called a “philip’s head”. Thinking about my husband Philip, I wonder how his flight was to San Francisco. Recalling the seafood we ate in California on our last trip, I contemplate what to make for dinner. While deciding to drive to the market for shrimp and walking away from the wall, I notice an older woman staring at me quizically.
I want to be an open vessel for otherwise unthought thoughts;
a tranquil glass of tequila, ready to be injusted and enjoyed.
A single rain drop or snowflake or tear stain or puddle splash;
content to have had one moment in the sun.
I want to be the echo of swallow calls in a cave;
light refracted from window to wall;
diamonds reflected from stilled waters.
On a brilliant summer day in a beautiful and artful city, a gentleman walks along a red-bricked street. Passing a small boutique, his gaze is arrested by the most enchanting, exquisite bow made of satin ribbon. This bow would be a perfect addition to his daughter’s birthday gift. Elated at his luck in finding this intricate adornment, he walks into the small shop.
“How much is the bow in the window?” he inquires from the young man approaching.
“The bow is $50.00,” comes the reply.
“What?! I’m not going to pay $50.00 for a 10 cent ribbon!” shouts the man.
“Ah, no problem sir,” says the young clerk.
He moves toward the window and with one quick jerk of his hand and wrist grabs the satin bow and whips it once into the air. Immediately, the bow becomes undone. As he holds out the long, straight, gleaming ribbon to the gentleman, he says simply, “Now, you may have it for 10 cents.”
This story was passed on to me almost 30 years ago by my
beloved Commercial Art instructor, Ray Coia.
It’s 9:00 in the morning in my steel city, 3:00 in the afternoon where you are; where Columbus set sail for the new world.
What are you doing today?
Are you drinking your afternoon café, as I sit sipping from a chipped cup at a gritty south-side coffee house?
Are you writing words in your notebook? Are you sketching scenes or pushing stray thoughts around on napkins?
Have your blue eyes turned murky grey with age?
Or do they still match my own?
Would I know you if you walked in the door right now?
Would I want to know you?
I would like to be smoking the Spanish cigarettes you smoked the last time we met. The sweet smell of tobacco forever firing nostalgia straight into my senses.