Visitors (23)

This morning there is sun. It’s cold for southern California, and glorious after three days of steady rain. I feed the birds in my mother’s back yard, put up the lime green umbrella in my far corner, dry my edge of the white slatted table and the two chairs I use. I look up at the ridge and west across the valley, one of those rare days in L.A. where the air is clean and fresh. My tea is still steeping, so after I am set up in my corner of the back yard I head out the front gate to get the newspapers. I hear a hawk and look up in time to see her launch herself from Aida’s redwood, arc right above me, fly up the road to another tree. I talk to her from where I stand. Then a second call, a second launching right above me, and her mate flies southwest, disappears. He surprises me even more. Both of them! Had they been there all along, and I was just oblivious? The mama hawk flies back to Aida’s tree. It is the closest I’ve been to her when she wasn’t in flight. I talk to her. She listens, preens a bit. It feels comfortable, almost ordinary. We have a history together, she and I, one that mostly feels like a dream to me now. But I know in the core of me what happened was real. I don’t say it out loud right now, but she knows how much I love her. I just stand there looking up, wishing I could see her eyes. If she is broadcasting to me I am too dumb today to pick it up. But I know she loves me, too. It is an enduring source of awe for me, that this can be true. I stand still after she leaves, calling out once more. I am mute now, humbled, grateful. And I am all filled up with her, my unexpected red-tailed hawk friend.

Liturgy (17)

I have a funny Sunday night. I wake in the deep of it to steady, quiet rain outside the opened louvered windows. It’s a surprise. I love the rain, and this kind speaks to some deep peace in me. I go out to the back yard naked, collect all the cushions, pile them in the living room. I fall asleep again to the almost silent presence of this summer rain. Before dawn, I wake to wind, the leaves loud in the liquid ambers, the quick, hard sounds of the neighbor’s American flag. I go back outside to put down the three umbrellas, get back in bed. I am not ruffled by this effort or this unexpected need, only responding to it, at ease. (So out of character for me.) The third time I wake is to Monday morning’s trash trucks. I head out the front door, clothed this time, to put out our bins. I go back to bed again because it seems like the thing to do, to complete the pattern of the night, only to daydream a little, to finish waking up. But there is a softness that stays with me into the morning, as if this funny night of waking and going outside and going back to bed was more ritual than oddity, like a Buddhist monk doing walking practice, or the clergy in Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium who stayed up all night chanting to help their god return in the morning with the sun.

Passing Muster (12)

Last Sunday I saw the female red-tailed hawk closer than I’ve ever seen her, flashes of both belly and back, the dark outline beneath her wings, the red tail fanned out, translucent, lit by the sun. She landed on a shrub at the top of the ridge near the spot where the row of seven yuccas bloomed once, my companions and my comfort in an earlier stretch of time here. I imagined her studying me. I’ve never been so aware of wanting to be found worthy.

Bejeweled (4)

I am still not used to days of going and going, still finding my way in this, wanting to touch down more, palms to the earth. But there are pockets in most days, places where I land, even if only for moments. Some just rise up in me, like sitting in the car in Montrose drinking my yerba maté the other day when I felt so incredibly lucky. Some pockets meander over, like the hawk that swooped in and sat on the electric pole when Asterik and I were talking in the street. Sometimes I reach for these places, like stopping with my tea, sitting in the back yard taking in the ridge, the mockingbird singing in the leafed out liquid amber, the California towhee on the wet ground eating millet. Taking in whoever shows up. And the moment late at night when I turn off the last light before going to my room. I look through the living room to the solar Christmas lights outside on the succulent, the corner of the San Fernando Valley lit up in the distance, cars moving in slow motion on the freeway. I stand still in the kitchen doorway, this silent evidence of life happening out in the world, and the lush echoes of it alive in the dark quiet of the house, memory of the day just lived, and holding tomorrow.

Cradled (3)

In the mid-90s I wanted to have a baby. My body really wanted to be pregnant. I lived on a hill outside Sebastopol in northern California, and I would walk up and down Tilton Road, watch the red-shouldered hawks soar in the canyon between my hill and the next. I remember climbing the hill one morning on my way home, nearing the row of mailboxes for our dirt side road. I was all filled up on the day, the hill, the hawks, my strong body climbing. I remember feeling that exhilaration, that joy, and noticing that longing for a child nestled beside it. It’s the first time I remember understanding how we can hold more than one big thing at a time. Today it’s mostly anger and fear. I try to hold them with kindness, but the anger is harder. And underneath it all is a deep sadness that permeates everything. It lifts here and there like this morning beneath the liquid ambers, one of those moments when everything intersects. I go to turn the sprinkler off, and a mockingbird begins to sing nearby. I look for him in the leafing branches of the liquid amber one tree over. And looking up, I see a lizard coming down the tree whose roots I’m standing on to reach the sprinkler so I don’t get my slippers wet. He stops to check me out, and that is the moment when it all coalesces. I greet the lizard and hear the mockingbird’s song and see the morning sun between the new leaves of the liquid ambers and taste the wet earth and feel my toes grip the tree roots beneath my slippers. Joy comes with this sense of divine intersection. And sadness still tucked up beside it, companion for the long haul.

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.

Archaeology (62)

Sleepy eyes
close again and again
Dreams dust my edges
nonsense lines
dialog with somewhere else
What a world I might know
if I could lasso it all
and bring it forward
onto the page
dig for messages
and buried treasure
I hand you a shiny relic
with a broken wing
and watch you
turn it over in your hands
in the late afternoon light.