They Were So Happy (14)

There are liquid amber sprouting everywhere. I dream of transplanting them, a row of pots along the cinder block wall, gifts for people I know, for people I have never met. I dream of sending trees out into the world, a sweetness for the planet, a tiny antidote for global warming. On Thursday I am watering by hand. The foot-tall liquid amber in the side yard is gone. Almost every one of them are gone. Rinaldo has taken them all. I didn’t think to tell him not to. He’s never touched them in all these months. I can’t stop crying. “They were so happy,” I say. I keep saying it over and over. “They were so happy.” Not just my dream of them gone, but their companionship. I feel as if my last friend on earth has been taken from me. I can’t stop crying. I know I am not crying only for them. But days later, I still grieve.

Dispatch (13)

I sit beneath the lime green umbrella in the corner of the yard and drink my yerba maté. I remember the moon and look for her in the sky. She is right there, only a turn of my head, not behind the neighbor’s tree or hidden by the umbrella. My daylight moon. I turn back to study the top of the ridge before me in search of movement or the silhouette of a hawk perched on a shrub or the bare branch of a dead bush. Once I saw a deer grazing at the very top of the hill. I’d always wondered if they climbed the steep rocky sides. I let my mind drift, drink my tea. Later I wonder if I can still see the moon, and I turn to look again. There is writing in the sky where the moon was. For a moment, I think it is a message from the universe. It startles me to find it there, but in that first second, the possibility doesn’t seem odd at all. Why shouldn’t there be a message in the sky for me? In the next moment, I realize it’s skywriting. “Narek,” it says. Or maybe “Marek.” The word is moving north, the letters beginning to come apart. I see the moon then, the waning crescent just beside the “k.” Behind the name is a perfect heart, holding its shape as it follows Narek across the sky.

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.

Sitting (11)

Years ago my friend Richard talked about how we can shine a light on any aspect of ourselves, bringing our attention to it, and that’s all we need to do for it to transform. (I’m sorry. I don’t know if this should be attributed to a particular teacher.) I remember telling him you would have to have a lot of kindness for yourself in order for that to work. I knew it wasn’t working like that for me. The other day I was sitting in my corner of the back yard beneath the lime green umbrella, thinking about my anger, my reactivity, my yelling. I was deep in my thoughts, the pool, the pots of succulents, the bees, even the lizards all receding. I am always paying attention to some degree when I’m acting out, I thought. But my observer isn’t curious or kind. My behavior isn’t okay with her. I think if I want to be able to rein myself in more quickly and more often, I need to develop a better relationship with my observer, fund more kindness, foster more genuine interest in my goings on. I can almost hear her. Oh, look, she whispers, fascinated, look what you’re doing now. Isn’t that interesting. Oh, see how it isn’t working for you? Let’s see what we can do, she says. I can dream up a version of me laughing at myself, brimming with self-acceptance. I can almost touch her. But I am too far away. Still, the sense of possibility is heartening. I look up at the ridge, my little bit of mountain here, scan the edges for a sitting hawk. I don’t see one today. But hope sits inside me. Maybe if my observer can be kinder, she can talk me around.

Unlonely (10)

I sit when I can in the back corner of the yard beneath the lime green umbrella where I can see the ridge behind us. In these squirreled away minutes I savor my yerba maté and commune with these foothills. I hunt for signs of life, hope for red-tailed hawks or ravens, the ridge my much-loved companion. She came to me in my compassion class when we were asked to call up a comfort image. The ridge came, and my beloved San Jacintos came, too, with their many layers of ridges, old, old friends now. Mountains are in my blood, though I didn’t understand this before today, these foothills from childhood, my Girl Scout mountains, my Ajijic mountains, my Palm Springs mountains. The steady nature of them all, an ancient abiding, wise, deep beings every one. When I lived in Mexico I translated one of my favorite rounds into Spanish, not word for word but the feeling of the song. I would sing it from the third-floor roost of my blue house in Todos Santos at the end of the day, my long hill darkening before me, running west toward my sliver of sea. “Los cerros que viven aqui,” I sang, “Ellos pasan tiempo conmigo. Doy gracias por los cerros.” The hills that live here, they keep me company. I give thanks for the hills. I sing the song tonight in this late, late dusk, my ridge now a dark but breathing silhouette against the blue purple sky. The west a fading orange, and Venus brilliant just above that swathe of pale green we get in this longitude. New moon evening, one lone cricket starts his song. I wonder if I’ll hear the owls tonight.

Still Points (9)

I am in the center
of very hard things
I feel like I fail
again and again
but the truth is
I am still here
still finding ways
to return to myself
every
single
day
so today I will
stop
and open
and be proud of myself
in this moment
the thirteenth time
today that
I came back.

Respite (8)

These days
I don’t always know
where to go
how to be inside myself
all sharp jagged edges
I dissolve
on the floor of the garage
I keen
into my pillow
I want to put my fist
through the wall
(how do people do that?
the drywall must be very thin?)
but now and then
I find that sweet spot
where I know beyond doubt
how lucky I am
I find my grateful heart
in a quiet moment
in the midst of it all
and I cry tears
that don’t hurt.