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Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting (M)Bugged

The stars were aligned Friday. Our daughter had a hardly-ever-happens night off, no one had plans, and the weather was New England June, high blue and stunning.  So, the three of us decided to go out for a casual supper.  We tried for a place on the water, but half of Massachusetts had the same idea and after looking for a parking space in vain, we headed inland a bit to a burger joint we favor.   There, although there were plenty of open seats, the waitress couldn’t feed us fast enough, and barely three quarters of an hour later,  the check was on the table. I for one, wasn’t ready for the outing to end.
Thankfully, for us, inland is relative term.  We were about a quarter of a mile from a salt-marsh, where the river winds through from the ocean to a deep water marina.  I’d strolled the paths there once, my husband and daughter never, so as the sun dropped, we decided to explore.  I had in mind this blog post, and the thought that I’d display some pictures. 
Enter the midges.  Anyone who lives near the shore knows that without a breeze, sundown on the marshes can be lethal.  Husband and daughter high-tailed it toward the car.  But I wanted to capture it.  Click, click as the sun dropped.  Cough, cough as I swallowed a bug.  Then I hit the end of my memory card.  I wasn’t done yet and I had to be careful…there were pictures on it I hadn’t saved yet.  Desperate to capture the reflection of the rotting pilings on the still water, I deleted, swatted, clicked, deleted, swatted, clicked.  Not the best way to frame a great shot.  

Twelve hours later, I still feel like things are crawling on me.  But I got myself a blog post.  That's all I was asking for.

Monday, June 23, 2014


The Flight of the Robin

I returned to a last breath taken,
to a hand so warm and moist—
It could have been sleep.
In those quiet moments
before grief mushroomed up,
the morning held,
blue bright with weather
and relief.
We closed your eyes,
to a robin’s song,
trilling through the open window,
and as you traveled,
from here, to where,
we told you about him.
“Listen,” we said,
although you had no hearing,
had already lifted
into your own long flight.
Later, I sat,
while in another room
the business of mourning got on,
staring at your collarbone,
picturing the rise and fall
of your shirt, though it did not—
remembering how
in the still overnight, I’d curled
on the other bed,
listening to the phlegm
collecting in your lungs,
thinking there really is
a death rattle,  
heard you cough in
narcotic sleep,
watched you open your eyes,
to stare at the wall,
watched you close them again,
while around me,
the dim room ticked,
waiting like a clock.

Now, I picture the robin,
his call filling our ears
at the exact time you departed,
how somewhere unseen,
he would have whisked his wings,
soared on an updraft,
over the blooming dogwoods,
the purple azaleas,
how the rising sun
must have yellowed his feathers,
as he beat his way up,
into the open sky.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Replenishing the Well

First off, a huge thank you to all who commented on my IWSG post last week.  So many thoughtful responses, so much supportI can’t begin to share how much you helped.  And there, in the midst of all that encouragement, Misha Gericke said “... Usually the radio silence from your muse means it's time to refill those creative wells of yours. So do some other stuff you never get time for. Right.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Because more hours at work, along with life circumstances, have conspired to eliminate much of the time I had up until a year ago, so I haven’t been out doing what I usually do to court inspiration.

Duly reminded by Misha, I strapped on my hiking shoes late Friday afternoon, grabbed the Nikon and took a quick walk through a reservation a few towns over.  The place isn’t new to me. I’ve included photos from it on Middle Passages before.  But I don’t get there often and it’s just fresh enough for me that my eyes open wide whenever I go.  

This time I arrived in the late afternoon, too early for optimum sunset light, but in good time to enter the woods to the squeal and chatter of birds…different from the ones occupying my backyard.  Mostly, I’ve walked this place in the fall, so I've never seen the rhododendrons blooming pink along the paths, although they are what I’d expect in early June. Their white-blossomed cousins flowering amidst the deep woods however, were a surprise. Our long winter left its mark on the place, upended trees leaning against others, their root systems creating walls of earth that towered over me, sawdust and stacked logs evidence of  recently cleared paths. Emerging into the sun, I made my way to a refurbished boathouse, and breathed deep, watching the lazy river track back to an invisible ocean a few miles away, before heading back through the brush.  

We’d had a big rain the day before, and a brook running through the deep woods kept up a running commentary that accompanied my footsteps.  I’m not sure I knew that tributary was there before, but its chatter led me to a lone picnic table in a shady glen below the path, green with moss and damp, where vines of poison ivy colored tall tree trunks. The stream rippled and surged through miniature waterfalls as it rushed over stepping stones, and I paused.  It’s a place one might encounter a flicker of movement and imagine the  presence of a nymph or a water sprite, a leprechaun or a gnome.  

The light was kind of flat, the pictures only so-so.  But when I climbed back into my car, I understood what’s been missing in my life. Variety.  Novelty.  Difference.  
Perhaps you read my relief in this post. All it took was one walk to feel my mind revving up. I'm thinking the dead battery in there only needs a jump-start, instead of a total replacement.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Air Brushing

This is the June post for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group.  The goal is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.  You can find links to more posts here.

There’s been a lot of press lately, about the illusion inherent in social media, that what many people choose to post online represents a sort of a false-positive aspect of life.  It’s like the print magazine airbrush syndrome.  Long before the Internet, woman were bombarded with unblemished images of sylph-like creatures gracing the front page of Elle, Mademoiselle and Vogue. Those of us with freckles and birthmarks and cellulite were left feeling we could never measure up. But now, it seems everyone’s in the airbrushing business.   We create on-line personas, and our readers believe they know us, perhaps failing to recognize they see only the pieces we choose to share.  

I’m no different.   I have always endeavored to keep a degree of privacy here, and so while you read about the parades I attended, or the writing class I took, or my angst as my daughter grew up, you didn’t hear about the bad days at work, the family squabbles or illnesses. 
This practice makes things hard when difficult realities are brandishing themselves around me, and it’s time to write a blog post.  The tough stuff is all I can think of, but it’s not fodder for this blog.  So I’ll tell you this.  I’m at a loss right now.  My WIP is out on a visit to a reader.  I don’t have an idea for anything else.  Most mornings I get up and write, but lately, the lack of a manuscript and the things going on in real life have distracted me.  Production is at a five-year low.  Over the last few weeks, I did write a poem that I think is good, but right now, it’s too truthful, and exposes something I can’t put out there, not now anyway.

And so you get this.  A post that wonders.  How much of your real life do you share online?