Behind the Wheel (60)

The first time I was blasted open by wilderness was when I drove through the northern state of Baja California. The winding two-lane highway with no shoulder, no evidence of humankind anywhere except the road, only open undulating desert and scrub brush in every direction. No dwellings, no telephone poles, no water until the cats and I rounded a bend and saw the Sea of Cortez.

Rendezvous (59)

Wednesdays I drive to Trader Joe’s
park on the side street
tall trees
old inviting houses
today a woman
watering her yard
white screen door propped open
I sip my hot yerba maté
sing snatches of
“Our House”
Mourning dove
mockingbird
sit on wires
across the way
listening
I drink my tea
breathe
cry grateful tears.

At Home (56)

I hear the loud heater
down the hall
and think of my little home
and silence in the middle of the night
especially in winter
with no air conditioners
only cold air
through the open louvers
and the cry of the barn owl
and years ago, the small, warm weights
of my two cats
tucked against me
in the quiet night.

Singular (50)

Two turkey vultures soar above the back yard
silent and slow, unhurried
The near full moon rises in the early dusk
as we walk, arms linked
Hot yerba maté, as if it is life I swallow
in big noisy gulps
Great horned owls call from the big pines
at my old elementary school
Even though I think I don’t deserve the gift
Yet they keep calling, again and again and again
For longer than I have ever heard an owl call
And I wonder if they are responding to my love
or if there is a secret message
in their muted voices
as late dusk turns to near dark.

Sacred (47)

I am on the phone with my good friend. She mentions in passing, on her way to another story, that she once did a documentary with Julia Roberts. I am standing in the back yard, and I watch my mother walk down the hallway inside the house, obedient with her oxygen, so the tension in my shoulders lessens. Two red-tailed hawks appear against the blue and fly slow circles above me while I listen to my friend’s voice. And all at once it is one of those moments, when everything aligns, and for several seconds I am not understanding words, only standing there, taking in the sounds. The hawks feathers brush against my cheeks, and I am at the center of it all.

Unweighted (43)

I have a hundred things sitting on my shoulders, turning them to bricks, dangling off my head like snakes or like the orange cat sitting on the teenage boy’s head in the funnies the other day. Harmony escapes me most of the time, except moments like this, with all of us writing together, and the house finch singing outside the open window.