Unexpected (16)

This morning I am doing my chores and hear the ravens call. When I go out to my corner of the yard, the two of them are siting in the neighbor’s tree. They are quiet now, using their softer vocalizations. I sit with my back to them, and their sounds soothe me while I write. I go inside to get my tea, and I forget to honor them before I leave. When I go back out again, they are gone. I am pierced by my regret. I send them my silent apologies. Tears come to soften me from whatever it was that disturbed me earlier. (I don’t remember now. Something is always disturbing me these days.) Regret is not the route I’d choose to my unhardened heart, but today I am grateful because it does the trick, gets me inside. I like it inside. The juvenile red-tailed hawk shows himself above the ridge when my tears come, and I don’t believe it’s coincidence. Because I am inside again, I am able to connect with him. He circles wider, flies right above me, low enough that I can see his markings. My gratitude widens with the arc of his flight, quiet and clear like his passage across the sky. Later, I shake my head. Regret as entryway to gratitude and gifts. Who would have thought?

Well-Being (1)

I told you this already
when I was sixty-two
but this year
while I’m sixty-three
I plan to learn to sing
“When I’m Sixty-Four”
because I believe
I should sing it
all year long
to everyone
who loves me.
Late at night
I learn the lyrics
on my laptop
the Beatles’ voices
in the quiet living room
my impish delight
breaking through
my exhaustion.
I hope every time
I sing it
I will feel
just like this.

Tiny Talismans (57)

I heard once
crickets in the house
are good luck
a Chinese belief
I think
but maybe not
In my trailer home
a family of them
lived for a time
behind my fridge
I loved their loud
singing in the night
so near my bed
I missed them
when they moved out
and it was just me again
and the quiet daddy long legs.

Abroad (55)

I dream Julia Roberts and I
on a rooftop
She has a cut lip
and hair pulled back into a small messy knot
There is city around us
maybe near the sea
and we visit there more than once
gaze across the rooftops at dusk
She has trauma, too, something to do
with a dream she wanted to fund
in Syria or Ruanda
and crazed pushback on social media
And somehow we are close
comforted by each other
Our lives both hard just now
but meeting
and being met
easy together
like old friends
like decades
like no secrets
like no hiding at all.

I Sing with the Beatles (52)

In my joy class we sing “With a Little Help from My Friends,” all of us swaying and clapping together in our little Zoom boxes. After, I have Alexa play it for me again and again until I memorize all the words. I pick “When I’m 64” to learn next because I think I should sing it throughout the coming year while I’m 63. Late at night I sit in the living room, heater and ice-maker noises behind me, solar Christmas lights on the succulents outside the window, headlights on the 210 moving like water in the distance between the black curves of the foothills. My eyes close while I type, and I jerk awake more than once, but when I finish my work, I look for the song. I find the music with the lyrics, and I play it on my laptop with the volume turned way down. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” My knees bounce as my feet move, and I sing along, delighted with the music and the words, the minds and hearts that made them. I am lifted out of my limited self in the quiet night, unhindered, even happy, spread out like the valley to the west, silent now in the late dark.

Without (49)

I’ve cancelled my writing groups for the month of April. People are wishing me well, supporting me in this choice to take care of myself. And I just keep explaining it’s not like I’m taking a holiday. It’s not like I expect true respite here. I am only reaching for a little less stress. This is an act of desperation. Attending any Zoom meeting right now requires superhuman effort. Leading the meeting pushes the stress into the extraordinary range. I adore my Meetup sessions. There are beings there I love with every bit of me. But I can’t relax into them right now, can’t bring my whole self. My attention is split and scattered, my body anxious, stiff, my heart constrained. I am going on hiatus in the hope I can find a way to lead these sessions again with an undivided heart. I miss you already, my dear ones. May April be good to you.

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.