Poetry

Dandelions

“I guess it’s the last of the dandelions this year.  Have you ever heard of rubbing it under your chin?  If it rubs off it means you’re in love.”
(Ray Bradbury ~ Fahrenheit 451)

I remember almost nothing
of chemistry itself except

we got called down once
for holding hands; sitting in class,
with your knee between my legs,
we were locked together
for an hour and a half.

That’s what I remember most.

And once when we lay
in the grass, staring up
into the poplar tree I
rubbed dandelions on your chin
hoping the pollen would stick.

But a summer passed before you called.

You told me you
had a girlfriend.
I told you I
might be pregnant.

What do I remember?

That unsent letter
burning to ashes
in a metal box
shaped like a heart.

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Poetry

Crossing Paths

I know you are nearby,
mere miles away,
close enough that I wonder when
our paths will cross
again.

I saw you once
in your car
at a stoplight.

Did you notice
me?

Did you see me and,
taken aback like you saw a ghost,
do a double take or
stare or
let the light change while you paused
to see which way I’d turn?

No.

I watched you drive by, unaware.
I wonder when
if
when
if
we’ll see each other
again.
At the grocery store, or in a parking lot, or at a gas station
and make awkward conversation
for a minute
before going our separate ways
again.

Is it just better
to not see you?

You’ve changed,
but in my head we’re
still twenty-five and
still in love.
As long as you stay there
you can still be the soundtrack
of my awakening,
the lyrics
that ebb, bittersweet
with longing
for something real.

You’ve changed
since then, you must have.

But parts of you are just as I remember.

And maybe it’s better
that way.

Why would we risk
rediscovering one another
only to find the reality
less fulfilling
than the memory
(whose sting has faded
to leave

a glowing ember of tenderness)?

Soundtrack of my Life

an excerpt

This isn’t a story about what happened.  It’s a story about what didn’t happen.

               For a moment the only sound in the room was a needle scratching against vinyl.  The near silence, a breath of anticipation between two songs, broke gently with low, plaintive words.

My body is a cage…

How appropriate, she thought from her spot on the floor, where her legs had been curled under her for so long that they ached and longed to stretch.  She remained seated.  There were no bars, but the room enclosed her, and she was staring through her invisible restraints, watching him smoke from the confines of a faded armchair.

That keeps me from…

                The room was hot, sticky with humidity of a southern summer, and surrounded by dark windows.  A bare lightbulb overhead threw shadows into the corners, but it was light enough that she could make out the sheen of moisture across his forehead and down the sides of his neck.  He drew on the cigarette and blew smoke out of his nostrils and lips in a fast-moving stream.  She felt a trickle of sweat trace a path down her neck, past her collar, and down her spine, leaving a shiver of desire in its path.  Her heart sped up a beat and she felt dizzy.  It was hard to breathe.

dancing with the one I…

Love.  Why was that so hard to say?  Why was it so hard to just be honest?

but my mind holds the key…

Her hands wanted to reach across the short space between them and touch him, his hand, his jean-clad leg, it didn’t matter where.  Her head was spinning and the words of the song faded into the background as she stood, pausing for a moment when he looked up and into her eyes.  Neither one blinked.  She realized she was holding her breath and let it out, parting her lips.  What would happen if she just gave in?  He stood up, putting the cigarette out in an over-filled ash tray perched on the tattered arm of the chair.  Neither looked away.

…you’re standing next to me…

Every inch of her skin felt pricked and alert, feeling the air, feeling the pulse of the music, feeling waves of heat and longing rolling off of his body, beating into hers like waves at high tide.  The room was spinning, the music building to a crescendo.  She reached out a hand, fingers extended, just shy of where his hung beside his leg, clenched tight, but drew it back, “I should go.”  He didn’t speak a word, didn’t tell her to stop or to stay or to get out and never come back.

…my mind holds the key

She turned to the door and had it open in the space of two steps before his hand on her wrist was turning her, shutting the door.

My body is a –

The music exploded around them as his body crashed into hers like thunder.  His lips were everywhere, on her face, on her mouth, on her neck, and lower.  Her hands were encouraging, grasping, pulling harder and exploring the familiar shape of him.  He lifted her against the wooden door, its surface tattooing her back, and her legs wrapped around his waist, caging him.  He spun her around and then they were falling.  They were on the chair, thrashing against the cushions.  Then they were on the floor, shifting the rug.  They were discarding shirts and pants, freeing their bodies from the restraint of fabric, feeling the air bless their skin with oscillating kisses from the fan.  In a desperate, hurried moment, their bodies found each other, sliding together as one in a well-known dance.  He tasted the same, like coffee and smoke, felt the same, moved the same inside her; he moved her.  She let the emotions wash over her and wash away.  She let the pressure of his hands against her hips and her back and her legs flood her thoughts.  And as their heavy breaths mingled together through open mouths, lips almost touching, eyes locked together, they shattered like stars in the night sky.

Set my body free

The final notes lingered in the air.

Story of a House

Part one

1933

There was a woman hiding in the woods.  Bea knew it as surely as if she’d seen her, though the ghost kept carefully to the shadows.  An abrupt crack of thunder sounded in the distance.  The storm would be here within the hour, and Bea wondered if the woman would seek shelter or stay among the trees.  The next rumble of thunder was drowned out by a scream and Beatrice took off running towards it.

The grass whipped her legs as she navigated the yard and entered the forest, breathless.  

“Hello!” she yelled, “Where are you?  Are you hurt?”

The scream came again and Bea followed the noise.  Moments later she came upon the woman, who could not have been much older than twenty.  She was fully pregnant and lying on the ground, holding the roundness of her middle and writhing in pain.  Bea knelt down beside her immediately and touched the woman’s face.

“Can you stand?  I will help you walk to the house.”

“No!  No, I can’t,” the woman panted.  “The baby, the baby is coming.”

“It’s not far and there’s a storm.  You can’t have the baby here.  Come on, let me help you up,” Bea dragged the woman to her feet and started leading her toward the dim glow coming through the trees.  The woman did not protest again, but stopped every few feet to double over and scream again.  Bea was impatient with her, but did not push any faster.  The rain began as they reached the edge of the yard.

Once safely inside the house, Bea laid the woman down on a cot and went to work boiling water and collecting towels.  She felt eyes on her and turned to see her twelve-year-old son, Morrison, staring at her from the doorway.