Monday, March 22, 2010

I like the shape of windows
in Brooklyntown,
especially in evening
when in rectangle glows
I glimpse the hands that prepare dinners
and the good shoulders
that make places
for tears and sighs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I haven't blogged in while. Sorry. I don't suppose anyone reads anymore, so maybe an apology's not necessary. I've been busy for the last few months falling madly in love. It's a time-consuming, mind-boggling, rip-roaring thing. But now, my love is on the other side of the world. Almost exactly the other side. It's 6:29 here and it's 6:29 there too. Only, my world is dark, and I imagine his is all glowgold and pink and bluing and palm trees are catching the colors and tossing them about, and the birds are singing about the new day.

It's quiet in my apartment. I can hear the clock in the front room ticking. How many more ticks before the sound is covered by his laughter? I can hear a dog bark in the distance. I can hear the hum of the city, just faintly. So much is happening in New York tonight. Lights, music, life. Millions of people interacting, passing one another on the street, bumping arms on subway platforms, seeing and not seeing one another.

It's Saturday morning at the orphanage on the other side of the world, so I suppose the children are sleeping in. I wonder what they'll do while I'm sleeping. He took frisbees for the children. Maybe today he'll teach them how to throw. I wish I were there to sing with them, but this month is for quiet and prayer for me.

My sweet potatoes are roasting. I scrubbed them with the happy little orange and green scrubber he gave me for Christmas. Now I can eat the potato skin-and-all when they're soaking in oozing, sticky, sugars without a care. I glanced to my right while scrubbing to look at the picture of him I'd tacked to the wall. His smile, his smiling eyes captured for me, so I can relive a sweet moment-when he saw me behind a camera and loved me. We were over the moon. I still am.

I've been teary-eyed lately. I can't help it. I know it's good that we should have this time apart. I have time to work and think and pray. I am so happy, so why do I cry? Because I'm happy? Because my emotions are too many? Because all that lies ahead is a bigger, brighter adventure than I can imagine, because I am undeserving and trying to be thankfulsothankful.

I tried to find some music to listen to. I was flipping through an old cd case. I found another note and cried again. He left me notes all over the house. There are always more and each one is more beautiful than the last. I've filled a book with them, so I can keep them safe and read them over and over and over.

Sometimes I am very calm and feel the future in my center. Sometimes I try so hard to make things and everything seems halfdone and ugly. Sometimes a song comes out of me and I don't know how. Sometimes I walk through the city and it's so alive and my feet touch nothing and I can wear any sparkling thing I choose from the picture windows on 5th Avenue.

I wait tables and listen to the world. I think and make a few things. And all the while I feel another soul tugging from across oceans. I roast two potatoes so I'll have leftovers. They become even sweeter in the fridge. Now, they're snuggled in the hot oven, wrapped in foil, while their destiny draws nigh. I think about togetherness and fate. I think about how we knew one another before we knew one another and I want to cry some more.

Maybe my hormones are unbalanced again, like they were back in college when I had breakdowns regularly and Barbara took care of me with gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, delivered to a sobbing me, wrapped in blankets, cuddled in the mamasan. Or maybe life is bigger and better and more confusing and wonderfully terribly difficult and extraordinary than I thought.

I guess this is where faith comes in.

It's time to turn the potatoes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bright day
and the clouds are sailing
racing to the ocean to grow dark into storms

When they pass over you
their shadows blend with yours
Why they don’t pause there and slow to your pace,
allow their darkness to press into yours and earth,
is a mystery to me

I wish I were the shadow of a cloud
Or better yet the cool shadow of a tree you might pause into,
lean into—to rest

I’d be still always
Wind’s greedy caravan could never steal me away
Solid—I’d never break apart into nothing
Steady—I’d always be where you can find me

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My landlady is showing the vacated apartments upstairs.
She shuffled in yesterday to clean, pushing her cart of supplies.
She smiled when we met in the hall, her eyes brightening, bluing up,
the corners of her mouth curling up to reveal a row of pleasantly white teeth, just crooked enough to be particular and charming.
“Abby, darling” she said to me in her breathy voice.
She is ever out of breath and yet, ever energetic.
“Hi” I replied, thinking her lovely, but always shy around her,
and her history, and her know-how.

Her thick white hair is a chin-length bob and she wears the top layers
pulled back into a youthful clasp.
She walks carefully everywhere she goes, not as a precaution against harming herself, as other ladies of her age might, but as if she might damage the very ground
if she should traverse it in any other way.
All of her movements are slow, and fluid, and careful with the air.
Just the way she once moved for the camera.
A model. She had lunch with Mick Jagger in Paris she told me.
She was a movie star too. Just once.
“It didn’t do anything then,” she says.
But now film students study it, witness the careful movements of her limbs, thinner then, as they take note of the artful use of montage, as they count the cuts in each scene.
They discuss camera angles
as the star of the show is on her hands and knees, rubber yellow-gloved, scrubbing the shower with baking soda and vinegar so it will shine for prospective tenants.
Her tubular legs are smooth and freckled.
Her white shorts are bunchy, shirt is bunchy around her middle
that has rounded out like time and the clock that ticks it away.
She looks such a funny thing there scrubbing
and later too, when she looks over her books, down her nose,
through her narrow reading glasses.
She mumblemutters to herself sometimes.
But when she speaks to you, eye to eye,
she purses her lips serious.
When she makes a critical remark,
which she is fond of making,
she lifts her chin in a stubborn pose.
And when she’s tired, she rubs her hands over her face,
smoothing her eyebrows with her index fingers
just as she does in the bathroom scene when she washes her face
before the camera as if it were a mirror.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New York Story #2:

I’m walking through Herald Square.
The air is hot and I’m thirsty, thirsty
and I pass two young men
packing up their wares—
the handbags they couldn’t sell that day—
and one of them follows me,
falls into step and greets me with a grin
with a voice that sounds like
roads and rhythms and oceans.
He wants to buy me drink, but
No, thank you, I’m tired.
He follows me to the corner store
and when I try to hand the Chinese man
behind the counter a buck twenty-five
for my fancy spring water
he beats me to it, slaps two bills
on the counter and the deli man doesn’t care
and I don’t care because I am thirsty, thirsty.
The young man is not a man at all, I think,
but just a boy, and I wish he would go home,
or back to his friend and their hand bags, but
Which train do you take? he asks
and I admit, maybe foolishly.
Yes, I’m a fool because he takes the same train
of course, but says he gets off one stop before me.
Look, it was nice to meet you, but I’m going home now.
I walk briskly.
He follows.
Don’t you want to stay in town for a drink?
No, I say, I do not.
Just one?
No, thank you, I say.
And he follows me into the train station,
but his metro card is out of money.
He has to refill, so I escape down to my platform
and I wish I wish for the train to come now, now
and I drink my spring water
and here he comes down the platform.
You left me, says he.
I know, says I.
I put my nose in my book. I am not amused.
I read each line at least twice.
He’s just standing there and standing
and I’m reading, pretending to read,
sipping my spring water, re-reading,
and finally the train rumbles in
and all the tired people get on
and the young imitation designer purse man
is my shadow, but he doesn’t sit beside me.
He sits half a train car away and I am relieved.
I stick my nose in my book.
I read each paragraph at least twice.
I notice a nice looking man all in black—
must be wait staff like me, just finished a dinner shift,
going home. He would never go following me.
Not someone like him.
Oh no—here he comes—my coffee-skinned, innocent-eyed
too too too persistent shadow.
He sits right next to me.
Why’d you leave me back there?
I’m sorry. I just want to read my book.
Can I have your number?
No, I don’t think so.
Why not?
I just don’t think so.
You don’t want to hang out with me?
No, not really.
Why not?
The cute waiter and a couple next to him are noticing, listening.
Look, I really like to read. I have a lot of books to read.
So, you’re just busy.
Yeah, busy. Very busy.
The waiter is suppressing a smile.
Can’t I have your number?
Why not?
Look, do you just want me to give you fake number?
That’s what most girls would do.
We’re finally arriving in Brooklyn.
The train is descending down into the tunnel.
I take one last look out the window while we’re on the bridge
at the river, the city lights, the glow of millions.
Just give me your number.
He sighs a child sigh. The train pulls into the station.
It’s his stop.
Well, nice meeting you, I say.
I grab his hand and shake it.
He shrugs it off.
I don’t even know why I got ON this train.
Me neither.
He’s gone. The doors Beee Booop, whoosh, close.
I shake my head and can’t quite laugh
even though this whole ordeal has been rather hilarious.
It’s also left me befuddled.
I look at the words in my book.
I sip my spring water.
I look at the words in my book.
As the train slows to a stop at 36th street, where I’ll be getting off, I look up.
The waiter looks back at me, his eyes smiling
and then we erupt, the cute waiter and I,
laughing, and laughing still as the train doors open
and I get up and make my exit.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I walk into Duane Reade after midnight
to buy a candy bar for the train ride home.
My feet are tired from walking circles
around tables and my brain is fried
from saying the same things over and over:
“Hi, how are you tonight?
Can I get you something to drink?
How is everything?
No, we do not have frozen drinks,
but our margaritas are delicious.”

I am standing in line
because there is always a line at Duane Reade
any location—any time of day or night—
always a line—
when there is a tap on my shoulder.
I turn around and I’m eye to eye
with a man with dark, dark skin like coffee beans.
I tense up all through.
I am not in the mood to be hit on by a late-night weirdo
Why me? Why always weirdos? Never a nice one.
I just want my chocolate—home and chocolate
and to sit down. So tired.
“Did anyone ever tell you you’ll be a milleener?” he asked
I am irritable. I am suspicious. “A what?”
“A milliener,” he says.
I squint. I can’t see through his accent.
Where is from? What does he want?
His eyes are shiny, chocolate bon bons.
“A milliner?" I ask, "I’m going to make hats?”
“A millleener, a milloner, a millon..” he tries.
“A millionaire?”
“Yes,” he smiles, “You see these?” He points
to my freckles, spots, moles.
I’ve loved or despised them then and now
and now and then hated them.
I have too many. Some are huge and staring.
“Yeah, I’m pretty freckled,” I say, because mole is an ugly word.
“In Africa they say this means you will be a millionaire,” he tells me.
I notice he has a few freckles on his face—
spots even darker—scattered like paint splatter.
I wonder if he’s a millionaire.
I laugh. “I hope you’re right,” I say.
It’s my turn to pay. I purchase a dark chocolate bar
and think about good fortune and how sorry I am
to have assumed a stranger had unpleasant motives
when he just wanted a snack too—pretzels—
and to spread a few good hopes.
“Have a good night,” I waved to him as I left.
“Good luck,” he says, smiling pearls.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brooklyn Marching

I can lift knees a little higher
when the daffodils trumpet for me
and so I do so I do
and on 4th Avenue the car wash buzzes
and rattles and sprays
and a man with dreads
like ropes of good memories
smiles like a sea breeze
while island music
with bright steel beats
like hot nights and bare knees
glimes and rises out
from open car doors
out up to city sky

Down the block church bells rejoice
sounding from the high high steeple
so glad to be music
that when a car, rap-blasting, speeds by
the two do harmonize for a bar or two

Tamales from the corner stand
send a warm yellow scent of Mexico and spice
wafting to mingle with blooming trees
so I can easily ignore city fumes,
whirr-bus, and clank truck,
and plastic bags of rotting stuff

And it’s easier still
when I reach the bakery
where little cakes line up to tempt me
with whirls of frosting
and color and promise of sticky sweet lips
for later-licking

I notice things
when the daffodils trumpet for me
and so I do and so I do
all along 4th Avenue
in my town that is the music
of a hundred places and where spring
will sing you
into marching