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.
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.
The mockingbird I hear here mimics different birds than my desert mockingbird who sang for me when he was young practicing his calls in the middle of the summer nights The mockingbird here sings outside the opened louvers just like at home but not And I love hearing him each time grateful even if he wakes up longing in me for my little home and my mockingbird sleeping underneath the desert stars.
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.
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.
This house is filled with crickets I have found them dying more than once Some nights they sing loud in the living room and I stand in the dark and listen to their song When I am working in the black chair I will see one crossing the carpet and send up prayers May you be safe May you be happy My mother stomps near them to scare them away and I worry I will step on one without knowing I find their small belly-up corpses now and then in every room of the house lying in chavasana small enchantments lucky charms loved ones.
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.