Sing and Paint For Me

The world is crowded, striving and loveless.  I see the nakedness of the children and the despair of their mothers and do not wonder but grieve at their demand for death.

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Paint for me, my love,

the sky a deep sapphire blue

smudge the blackest blue about the rounded horizon.

Be frantic in your work

sing to me at times while praying that the stars shine

upon the patch of open forest,

I sit upon while watching you.

Sing away the fear that night brings to me

remind me that the darkness is sacred even now,

fallen as we are, sing while painting the sky.

I will pull out of my cocoon that I had shaped just for me,

me alone.

I will spread the heat of my body upon the ground enough for two.

Along the edge of the forest, I will build a hearth of stone.

From deep within me call up a cool, hot-blue fire

my mothers left for me to share with you.

The world is crowded, striving and loveless.

I see the nakedness of the children, the despair of their mothers

do not wonder but grieve at their demand for death.

Won’t you pray for the stars to shine a burning hope within the darkness you paint?

Won’t you sing to me of stories of hope rather than the obvious pain?

Look, I’ve stretched out what is left of me here,

upon this patch of open forest floor know

God sings over my faith.

Bring your talents to me.

Sing and paint.

Immortal Spaniels

The spaniel was immortal and sighed often.

Maudlin music and less than red linen made for soft people she felt, yes felt, which was beyond knew and just before faith –

In oneself.

Her red was of the blackish kind and her curtains blocked out the sunlight and opened to the rain of days- she was content.

She knew that was it.  She knew.  The world bloomed red in small startling places and she searches for the sear and pucker of it in the dead of winter

This proved effective to draw her attention away from the doggish way he looked upon her.  He had a spaniel that she liked and wished was hers

But he wasn’t.

They were well sheltered within the stonewalled cottages that were between a farm house and just shy of a manor house — and the walls encompassed them and there they lived.

Her looking for scarlet and he looking at her.

The spaniel was immortal and sighed often.

Magicians were not allowed through the gates and witches could fly over but the breeze was constant and she could not tempt fate with this or that bauble of love.

A nod, not even a sur name offered when they met upon the cobbled street, she always with her eye on the corner of a stone building looking for red.

What could he do?  Learn to dance?  Pray for drought? He walked the dog and they spied her over the scarlet rose of autumn.  Embolden he walked to the place and bent his head to smell the flower.

He looked back up to see her gazing out upon the horizon.

“Stay,” he said, “and the dog will dance until you see the famous scarlet sunset.”

She stayed and as the sun played out the light of evening he whirled her round and the dog barked and gamboled about their feet.

And the scarlet of sunset reflected against the once stone walls of their lives.

It’s Not Difficult

You can enter my mind through my heart

Just so you know, staying up late is not good for me, I’m a morning person.

Weary, I’ve stepped out on to my high tower ledge and found the big dipper just overhead;

Close but not touchable.

So, I point the momentum North and ride the will to survive into the icy cold.

The bay is rocky smooth, Superior ice blue and now I feel safe away from you.

Odd, I don’t fear the scythe-man and am terrified of you.

A vulnerability is impossible to live with.

The levitation is sudden, the atmosphere heavy, ripping down my body as I move up

No nest is a temptation from this lofty spot where I see the seas spin deep frothing white.

The ghosts step along the streets their staffs diamond willows that no one but a few knows exists.

Sit down across from me and answer my questions

Answer me

Love is what you’re best at, that is obvious while I ponder the ideology of believing in death

And not God.  So answer me, what has the world come to?

To each their own, to each their own.

To the west, to the east what was once frozen has dropped upon my front door and taken

The Limberlost

No, no she has simply gone deep as the stars have gone just out of reach

Don’t be afraid, I won’t ask any questions you can answer

You can get into my mind through my heart.

Please answer my question.  It’s not difficult.

 

Photo by Alfonso Ninguno on Unsplash

When She Thought of Him

There were days on end when she didn’t have to think of him at all.  Long summer days when she hid away in the shade where stillness invited the white tail and the fiery red fox.  The twilight evenings when she heard the greeting of her father as the hired hands drove off toward their supper. 

After the shove or taunt, she imagined herself with the older man who came at night.  He was the one who would cause envy in all those who sneered at her during the day.  He was the one who spoke to her gently, read poetry and didn’t like to dance.   She remembered events that made her happy but never happened.

There were days on end when she didn’t have to think of him at all.  Long summer days when she hid away in the shade where stillness invited the white tail and the fiery red fox.  The twilight evenings when she heard the greeting of her father as the hired hands drove off toward their supper.  When the cool started to settle in she dreaded the call to be sociable outside the need for church.

The whispered jeers and snarling looks of disdain from her peers would not have been so painful if they had not, in turn, been so hypocritically kind to her father.  Their kindness lightened his face with hope when invitations were sent but she refused to go.

“Mrs. Harper will think you rude; you didn’t accept her last invitation.”  She would go and in the prettiest dress but feel awkward and uncomfortable none the less.  She would sit as still as possible allowing her tea to cool or lemonade to grow warm.  She wouldn’t eat a thing for fear of looking more uncouth and gangly then feel the tears burn into her eyes knowing her father was disappointed.  So she thought of the older man who came at night.  He would walk by Mrs. Harper’s window and she would think that he was so handsome and some day she would be the envy of all the lovely girls when she walked by his side.

After such times away from home and books, and bubbling brooks, away from tracks in the snow and blankets of fallen leaves she would think of him.  She saw him in the fields right after harvest, standing alone among the stubbled stalks of corn.  She saw him late at night while the new moon hid in angles; he stood between the broad, tall barn and her lofty old farm house.  He stood and gazed up at her window and when she crept up to the glass to see if indeed he was there, he would not flinch or change expression but continue to stare.

When William only tipped his hat at her not seeing her, she would think of him, tall, angular and looking off into the distance.  When Tom’s smile turned into a laugh as she walked by she thought of him, standing just below her window.

Then one day her father sent her away to Chicago.  The move was sudden and unexpected.  He one day fired all of his hired hands and sent her to Chicago to learn.  Her grief was an agony and only once did she try to plead.  In the city, there was no time to think of him.  She had only time to learn how to set the table, order her meals in French and dance in shoes that pinched.

She had no time to remember and then one spring a gentle touch caused her amnesia regarding the white tail, the fiery red fox, the tracks in the snow and the blanket of multi-colored leaves at her feet.  She may have remained if not for a night at home again.  Smiling at her father, speaking to him in excited tones of what goes on in Chicago.  Asleep in an instant so glad to be home and suddenly awake, the old sadness about her.

He sat on the edge of her bed, broad-shouldered, angular and silent.  If she closed her eyes and willed herself asleep, she would return to the world of whirling seasons, high towers and smiling people.  Or she could open her arms up to him.

He had stayed with her when she was alone, so opening her arms to him she felt the alarm of bitter cold for only a moment and the soft contentment of returning home again.

Photo by m wrona on Unsplash

 

Into Safety

Maybe some see already that her calm life was sailing blissfully into an evil maelstrom. 

Since being alone, she has been extremely busy.

She knew a woman, friends of hers, who were the same.  Extremely busy.  They sat down after work and read historical romances or went to movies by themselves.  They lived in the city, in small apartments that didn’t cost a fortune and rode the bus to the L and the L into the city proper and didn’t complain about the early rise because they didn’t have to drive in “all that traffic.”

She was like them, just like them an introvert with a busy schedule.  She joined a knit club with other introverts, men and women alike who told her where the best coffee shops were and the best nookish bookstores.  They would go out together and drink sherry once in a while just to compare notes.

After a long while of learning how to be alone; she liked it.  She liked her satellite friends who would be coming running if there was some sort of catastrophe, like a lost cat, or a pregnant sister.  They came because the catastrophes were few and far between and usually always brief.

Like all contentment however it slips past without any sounding alarm.  One evening rather than a predictable romance, she read “Jane Eyre.” Harmless enough and her friends encouraged her in the classics.  But the classic are dangerous books.  Why?  Because of the questions they pose.  The questions weren’t harmful by themselves:

“Who was president when Jane Eyre loved Edward Fairfax Rochester?”

“How old was the United States when Mr. Darcy proposed to Elizabeth?”

“What did Freud have to say about Wuthering Heights?”

Well okay, the last one wasn’t so much a question that has much bearing on her journey but if one has some time on their hands it could make quite a dissertation.

Maybe some see already that her calm life was sailing blissfully into an evil maelstrom.  Could she have made an effort to stop?  Sure, and she did but questions beget questions.  If it was the best of times how could it be the worst?   That made no sense, on the quiet bus ride into work.    Besides if any sort of enlightenment ushers in the guillotine then perhaps we should take a closer look at the crusades.

If that makes no sense just know, the more she dug into her questions the deeper into history she sank.

Until she found him blinking up at her from the dark tunnel of conflicting sources and original sources.  The wind was howling a city of Chicago winter storm when their eyes met over thick tombs that the librarians twittered and fussed about whenever they were requested.

Her heart sank.  She had been trapped, for there he was running his fingers through his hair and with a perplexed look on his face.  She understood, the Enlightenment was sinking into anything but and that was a hard lesson.

She imagined him several times during her work day.  What if he appreciated German opera more than Italian?  What if he liked to travel to see the very place where Antoinette died and she simply wanted to take a visual tour.  What if he preferred French to Portuguese?  What happens to a man who thinks that Dickens actually wrote anything worth reading besides the “Pickwick Papers”? What if he preferred Adams over Jefferson, what then?

Her heart pound in her ears, when she realized that he would speak to her, talk to her and the quiet smiles and bumping into each other in the history sections, were done.

What happened to those nice quiet nights knitting and reading alone in snow driven Chicago?

Before he opened his mouth or give her the warm smile she had shared with him for many weeks her heart felt suddenly leaden.  She couldn’t do it again.  She couldn’t.  It wasn’t the quiet, it was the burden.  Life was too good to complicate it with true love.

She ducked quickly into the medieval histories of the Spanish.  She heard his footsteps slow and imagined his surprised face.  He walked slowly passed her and into Ancient Greece.

Mirror, Mirror, Mother

Okay, listen, let’s get one thing straight before we go on.  I loved my father.  He loved me.  I couldn’t help his natural appetites.  My step-mother was there, yes but if he would have said ‘hey, I’m tired tonight I’ll see you in the morning,’ he may have lived longer. 

It didn’t work, my Mother was right.

She isn’t my real Mother but she’s the only one I have.  I speak to her in the mirror and no, we don’t look anything alike.

She’s beautiful, I mean really beautiful and I’m pretty.  There is a large difference.

She told me that deceit only works if you want to be rich, it never works if you want to be in love.  I thought, (and naturally so) what the hell does she know?  She seduced my father and I’m not too sure if he died of natural causes or if she helped him die of natural causes.

Okay, listen, let’s get one thing straight before we go on.  I loved my father.  He loved me.  I couldn’t help his natural appetites.  My step-mother was there, yes but if he would have said ‘hey, I’m tired tonight I’ll see you in the morning,’ he may have lived longer.  I suppose he died of what we all die of; free will.

Anyway, I was up in the attic trying to figure out the spinning wheel and thinking of a guy I just met at the well.  Now, Mom always told me not to touch the point of the spinning wheel because if I got a drop of blood on the snowy white wool I was spinning I’d fall asleep for 100 years.

I believed her because she worked like a dog for that snowy white wool.  She said that with my dark complexion, big brown eyes and rosy glow I’d look fabulous in white.

She wanted to marry me off as soon as possible.  To her credit, she was sizing up a very rich baron with lots of lands and a modern manor house with water heat.  I think of what life may have been there every once in a while.

I had other plans.  He was fair, noble, handsome and brave, the guy at the well. So I pricked my finger and dropped my own blood on the snowy white wool.  As I tumbled into that deep, deep sleep my Mother warned me about I heard her yelling my name from the basement.  Something about being an idiot.

I think if she would have just left well enough alone she wouldn’t be talking to me through the mirror.  She could have stayed in my father’s castle and lead a normal albeit rather evil life making her poison apples and scaring little kids.

“Did you have to lock your door again last night?” asked the mirror.

“Yes, and you don’t have to tell me I told you so.”

“Move up into the tower, with that game leg of his he won’t follow you up there.”

“He won’t let me cut my hair.”

“Let your hair grow.  It’s always grown fast and thick; you might be able to escape by it in a year or two.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“So is being married to that frog of a man you waited to kiss on your wedding night.”

I Never Write About Vampires

He took another sip of wine and felt again that edge, that good hurt of taste that he never experienced before. He wanted to capture that actual taste upon his tongue and not the overwhelming afterglow of emotion the wine procured for him. A sweet grape, an almost euphoric floral start at the tip of his tongue that chilled to an ash, and almost wonton woman taste that shimmered down his throat

To taste wine is an art.  Never would he say to his current lover, (a nice woman, physically very attractive and, of course, regrettably superficial), that to taste wine is an art. She would look at him, he knew,  with those incredible violet eyes and try not to laugh.  A woman who tries not to laugh is so unattractive, especially with a very expensive crystal wine glass in her delicate hand.  Suddenly the very expensive red glow in the delicate crystal globe sloshes around like a well-bodied ale; unacceptable.

He was met by a well-mannered waiter, and shown to a small, well used, round, wooden table.  The spot was chosen by the lady, (not his current lover mind you) of course.  He found himself thrilling just slightly.  What would Anna think of him, meeting another woman, in a town in Northern Vermont?

He took his seat.  He was early, by her suggestion.  Her note encouraged him to try the wine, exceptional – especially the red.  She would meet him in the evening,  and become reacquainted.  They had parted on good terms – one of the few in his life.  He was excited to see her again, over his first passion; wine.

When he was younger, he had just enough money to live and to taste wine.  There were, thankfully,  a few women in his life that would sleep with him because they found him attractive.  There were the occasional, (he cringed to use the term, so crass) one night stands due to the wine he introduced them to making him irresistible, he knew.  He was not egotistic; the wine did the job, not his manners, his mind or his body.

But care must be given to getting attached to a woman.  He was not born into a vast fortune and he was not inclined to drive the chariots of business to acquire, with diabolical relish, the two things that he found attractive in life; wine and women.

He smiled to himself, looking out at the dingy, wet, street: “Wine and women.”  Really, the connotation of that statement should not sum up a selfish snob or cold-blooded lover in the minds of the world – mostly female minds – for he was an exception to the statement – truly.  He did not want to make up his mind between one or the other – he wanted both and he wanted the best of both.  So what was he to do?  The only thing he could do – both within moderation.

He had to admit that when he was in his thirties, he spent too much time alone.  He refrained from younger women – completely un-teachable in the art of wine tasting; too fast, too virginal, too needy.  He did take comfort with some older women, but they often found him comical in a way he found insulting.  But this woman, ahh, he was close, to falling in love with her.  Until one night, alone and with an exquisite, dry white, he decided to write down what love was.

Was.

He wrote that one word on the yellow pad of paper and stared at it through the entire bottle. Was.

The next day, he met her for lunch and ordered everything red.  The filet, the sauces, the wine and broke it off with her.  She didn’t cry over the time they had spent.  She simply said, she knew the time would come – she had no hopes their relationship would last to marriage, children, Christmases before the fireplace.  She knew and was grateful for what they had.

He was astounded.  He watched her walk out of the restaurant and never heard from her again.  And 20 years later he received a letter from her.  He knew beyond a doubt that he must see her again.  The old photo of them together, wine glasses in hand at some party they attended intrigued him.  He looked up the address, the town, the place – were there – he need only accept.

He tasted the wine the waiter brought; a taste all of its own, a sort of raw, exciting taste, that made him tense and feel within him an urge to pace.  He felt himself immerse in a pleasure that made him edgy and…(could it be possible) feel just a little mean, just a little rough.  She was no doubt still beautiful, probably married.  Who but married people live in Vermont.  Perhaps she and her husband had an upscale bed and breakfast.  If she had children perhaps they were off to college, obtaining a degree in hotel management.

No, he had to stop.  He took another sip of wine and felt again that edge, that good hurt of taste that he never experienced before.  He wanted to capture that actual taste upon his tongue and not the overwhelming afterglow of emotion the wine procured for him.  A sweet grape, an almost euphoric floral start at the tip of his tongue that chilled to an ash, and almost wonton woman taste that shimmered down his throat and warmed his belly, as if her hand ( was he confusing the wine’s taste with the woman already? That amused his more clinical mind) was just above his belt, flat and warm and steady.

“Hello Roger,”  The voice was as he remember it, soft but now with an edge of worldly knowledge about it.  He started and looked up.  She wore a tight fitting dress, a deep burgundy.  Her skin was a soft glowing cream and her hair, now long, was glossy down her back.  She had not aged a bit.  He felt himself start to stammer, stopped himself, stood, and proffered her a chair.

“Always the gentleman.”

His astonishment at her beauty kept him in silence.  Could it be the same woman?  She sat, looked up at him, and without a doubt, she was the same woman.

“How are you?”

“Good, I’m good.”

“Do you like the wine?”

“Yes, I’ve never tasted anything like it.”

“Nor will you again.”

He remembered very little – except that he is now driven from the light of day and driven to drink rather than taste.