Soulless

The woman’s face wrinkled in confusion, and I walked down the narrow and shadowed hallway that lead to the rather spacious bath and three tiny bedrooms. Each bed made without a wrinkle, each closet open to show it’s well cared for linen, clothes and seasonal bric-a-brac.

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Do you ever wonder about the life of the inside of…anything? I do not believe in soulless objects…people perhaps.

Think about it, the empty inside of a pristine-upon-the surface oil tanker. Think of the viscosity pour or pump of that liquid gunk rising within that tanker. The very weight and wetness pushing up and off the flakes of rust and paint so that it floated upon the surface of refined and refined and refined again flammable liquid that had stayed hidden in the earth for so long.

Now hidden in ribs of rusting buoyance.

For my part, I wonder about the inside of houses. Any house, the bright, well lit, well-manicured house and the tumble down, slowly overgrown lumber rot of a house are equally compelling. The most interesting are the estate sale homes. Small, demure little signs with bold black letters “estate sale,” that denotes its lost occupant.

I wander in, and there are usually two types of people within; the embarrassed or the angry. The angry follow me around and complain about those who have bullied in before me “thinking that I’m here to barter with them.” I nod and frown and keep on wandering. The embarrassed hardly say a thing and are usually related to the ghosts that expose themselves in the used books, used utensils, used furniture and used clothing.

Flakes of paint and rust that float to the surface of pumped or poured in money that seems embarrassed to be exchanged for moments of history.

It was a little ranch style, slab house with a picture window looking out upon a postage stamp front yard. There was a small, stone walkway that started midpoint of the single lane driveway which tried to wend its way to the front door but only managed to curve slightly and stop. The evergreen bushes, trimmed into square, squat, little sentries and stood in decorative service to the bright white front door.

I made my way along the small street gutter and up the driveway and over the stone pavers to the front door. An embarrassed person met me and smiled down upon the floor. Though the smell of eucalyptus and spearmint was prevalent, I could sense the smell of old, forgotten and wonder. Wonder, from the walls, the dustless furniture, and the minimalist counter tops, if God had forgotten her.

Her, this I knew because the embarrassed person who met me was female and sad and either a daughter or granddaughter of now an estate sale house.

“The antique clock that was over the fireplace was that sold?”
“Yesterday.”

“You didn’t want it?”

The embarrassed woman eyes widened, she opened her lips to ask me a question, hesitated and then simply shook her head. I turned away and looked around the small living room with the small fireplace which opened into a kitchen-dining room, that in its turn lead to the outside and a small fenced yard.

“What happened to the dog?”

“On a waiting list for adoption.”

“Yes, but where is he?”

“With a small animal rescue family.”

“Funny, she didn’t have his future provided for – she loved that dog.”

“Did you know my grandmother?” The answer was angry, so I understood that she was to have taken the dog.

“No.”

The woman’s face wrinkled in confusion, and I walked down the narrow and shadowed hallway that lead to the rather spacious bath and three tiny bedrooms. Each bed made without a wrinkle, each closet open to show it’s well cared for linen, clothes and seasonal bric-a-brac.

“Hello?” I heard the woman’s footsteps hesitantly walk down the hall. I heard her hesitant step at each door and then her rapid retreat. I heard the front door open, and I thought of meeting her there but suddenly felt too tired to do so.

“Someone’s here. I told you I didn’t want to be here alone.” Her voice whined into her phone. Silence. “She knows about the dog.” More silence. “No, she walked into this house and down the hall and disappeared. I’m telling you, she disappeared, there was no way she could have gotten by me.

 

She Still Loves You, Sir Walter Scott

“The only thing I’m saying is that if you want a good example, for your class, of what an oxymoron is, use ‘nice guy.’” She felt that sinking, suffocating sensation that she always felt when around him and wondered why she wasn’t home reading.

He was seven years younger than her; tall, slender, with large amber brown eyes, and a wooly but trimmed beard. They were employed together by the Jefferson County School System. She taught freshman English as a way and means to write literary prose on her fall, winter, and summer breaks (when she was in elementary school those breaks had titles such as Halloween, Christmas and thanked God, it’s summer vacation). He taught fourth-grade with a concentration in Mathematics. They were aware of each other or rather she was aware of him because he always sat in the front row of the Teacher’s Union meetings. She sat in the back and graded papers that lead her to seek professional help.

That’s where they met. He was walking out of his therapy session with Dr. Monroe while she was walking in, deep in thought and wanting to purge the sick feeling of guilt she felt for reading Ivanhoe for the fourth time in three years. She was startled by the fourth-grade teacher’s appearance, and he smiled at her.

“Do I know you?”

She blinked and felt her nose begin to itch and the inevitable wetness that sidetracks all social discourse. Frantically she looked in her purse for a tissue, “Um no, sorry,” she sniffed. He took a tissue from the box on the receptionist desk and handed it to her. She took it gratefully and spoke over the fourth-grade teacher’s shoulder, to the receptionist. “Sorry I’m late, will she still see me?”

“Yes, Ms. Miller.”

She turned back to him who had stayed and was apparently looking her up and down. “You know,” he said, “I think you look familiar.”

“I teach at Jefferson High. Freshman English. I’ve noticed you at the Teacher’s Union Meetings.”

“Ahh, because I sit up front.” He smiled and adjusted his backpack across his shoulders. “Will you be at the freshman basketball game tonight?” She looked at him as if he had grown three heads, “No. I don’t care for basketball.” She turned around and walked toward the Doctor’s office door.

“Wait one minute Ms. Miller; Doctor is not quite ready.” She huffed at the strident demand of the receptionist. She turned, the fourth-grade teacher was still standing there. She wondered if the ‘Doctor,’ wasn’t recouping from some wild tryst with the young man in front of her.

“I teach fourth grade, with a concentration in mathematics.”

“Yes, you’ve mentioned that in the meetings.”

“And you’ve remembered.”

She felt herself reddening slightly. She wasn’t sure if he was referring to her age and therefore her weakening faculty of mind or if he thought that he had made an impression on her. So, she only smiled without meaning it and said, ‘yes,’ in a long drawn out breath.

Her rudeness didn’t seem to cause any self-examination regarding his manners. “Well, we should have coffee together sometime and compare notes.”

“Ms. Miller, the Doctor is ready for you.”

“Sure, we should do that.”

She didn’t realize that she had committed herself. On the afternoon, just before the long winter break (that would be spent preparing, for the principal and three vice principals another plan for teaching freshman English and a dissertation on why grades were so low), she looked up to see him standing at her classroom door.

“Hi!”

“Hello.”

Did you receive my emails?”

She thought for a moment that she would feign complete ignorance and check her spam, but she was too tired and only said: “Yes, I did.” Annoyed at having to confess her remissness she thought wildly of asking him why he didn’t ask for her kerchief or go gallantly out in her name to right wrongs.

“Didn’t want to answer me huh?” He looked a bit crestfallen, and guilt crept along her neck and wisped about her ankles in a cold little chill.

“No, I didn’t. I’ve been kind of busy.”

“Yeah, the rumor is that you really do try and teach Freshman English. That must be burdensome. Why don’t you let me buy you a cup of coffee? We can go to the teacher’s lounge…”

“No.” her disdain was evident in one word, and she rose from her desk as if she was rising to command Nelson’s ship Victory.

“Excellent then let’s go over to a nice little coffee shop I know.”

She looked outside, the clouds were low, and it had begun to snow in earnest. She felt tired and longed for her little apartment uptown above the yoga center. The landlord had made a deal with her on the rent three years ago, because of the late hours and the weird music that came up from the old furnace vents. She didn’t mind because she kept her classical music plugged in and the heat low – it helped her write.

“Why don’t you come to my apartment and I’ll make us coffee.” She was hoping he would refuse, but he readily agreed.

They had coffee. He left in time for her to order a medium plain pizza with cheese in which she ate three-quarters and then made herself sick. Something she hadn’t done since she was a teenager and had fallen in love with Sir Walter Scott of Waverly fame. She tested transcendentalism in hopes of eventually uniting with her writing icon which sent her parents running back to their Catholic faith.

She was looking at him now wondering what and who a ‘nice guy,’ really was and if he had married someone else and was tripping over kids and wondering what happened to her.

“Do you think we should start a relationship?” he asked.

“What?” She shook her head; she wondered if she had been falling asleep.

“I spoke to Dr. Monroe about the two of us, and he said an older woman (not too much older, mind you) might be a good experience for me.”

“An experience.” She said, deadpan and weary.

“You never know,” he said shyly and smiled, “it might last.”

She took a deep breath, letting herself for a moment breathe in his perceived freedom and open minded aura and felt within her throat and lungs the sharp pain deception.

“’Nice guy,’ young man, is not an oxymoron. I’m too old to be your girlfriend is not an oxymoron, and I’m not going back to that shrink who agrees with you that everyone on has a commodity status…”

“No, that’s not what I mean. I didn’t…”

“You didn’t ask me out for a cup of coffee so that you could lose your virginity, I know. You are so predictable you know, despite being told all your life that you are unique.

“So is Sir Walter Scott,” he said hotly.

“No, we just haven’t come up with anything original since. We’ve only managed to redefine words, concepts, and morals to appease our insecurities. We’ve done it until we’ve come up with a human like you, who believes there is no such thing as an oxymoron. You don’t, you know, you don’t even know enough to be honestly self-deprecating.”

He sat and stared at her for a moment. She could see he was struggling. He stood, “Well, I’ll just take care of this bill and when you feel like you can speak to me with some respect, let me know.”

She gave him no reply while he hesitated and then left. She ordered another strong coffee and felt cold. Perhaps a priest would understand her love for a dead novelist and poet better than a psychologist. Sipping her coffee and watching the fourth-grade teacher walk away.

 

Cnaejna’s Song

Come with me to the skylines of Chicago, New York, London.

I am rejected by God for good reason but come with me.

 

See the steeple, pierced deep and dimpled down between the

Steel and glass scrapers of the sky that are dark now like me.

 

Take my hand and feel the ice cold sorrow of what life is for me

I’ll allow you to think that you can save me.

 

I’ve seen so many years, so many attempts at power and vindictiveness.

I didn’t relinquish my hope of heaven for any of these.

 

Violence and its shock do not soften by its frequency -not for me.

Is that why you can pity me?

 

My motive was to live.  My motive is to feel.  My desire is now.

Listen to my siren voice if reason cannot defeat fear.

 

She did shine like a star even as a child.  Her green eyes glowed and her

Red hair was brilliant like the sun and the mist could not defeat her.

 

I summoned her like all young girls that had potential to survive the

Long years of life and the idea of hell in the end.

 

But she loved. She loved impossibly and I knew but he did not until

The end.

 

Such girls are wasted on men, wasted on love.  I was her escape to leave

Pain, gain knowledge and learn a wandering, wailing peace.

 

Come with me to the skyline of London, the dark murky shadows and

Man’s pitiful attempts at lighted darkness.

 

Come with me to set her free or to end me.  For she has chosen

Her enemy in me; neither of us beautiful, neither seeking peace.

 

Come with me to feel the vibrations of life’s power on which I feed.

 

No Make Believe

Makes little difference to me, the lifting wind that brushes the sun darken oak leaves up. The sylvan world moves from dark to light in shifting shades of green-

Makes little difference to me, the lifting wind that brushes the sun darken oak leaves up. The sylvan world moves from dark to light in shifting shades of green-

Means little to me.

I care not for the song of the lark or the longing flight of the cardinal for his mate. The scarlet dark against the shifting green all directed by who knows what; so why care for the cause of a hidden effect?

I could care less.

And I do not mind the boom of guns nor the crack of the whip that separates me from those I should love. What does their life matter as I have been taught that only my life should revolve my world?

What matters the words written that saves souls?

I think little of peace or what contentment is and soon all theses distractions I mention will falter due to lack of attention.

How could the world continue to spin without my permission?. Oh, and by the way, I most certainly don’t believe in evil.

 

These Servant of God Days

Did he wake in the middle of the night,
Remembering the silence of his friends
And then their accusations?
Did he feel the heat and ease of his wife’s body
Next to him and then remember her words?
“Turn and Die.”

The servant of God – Job.

The life of the servant restored. –

The curse lifted,

His life after his trials, blessed.

But did he never have a dark moment after?

Did he wake in the middle of the night,

Remembering the silence of his friends

And then their accusations?

Did he feel the heat and ease of his wife’s body

Next to him and then remember her words?

“Turn and Die.”

These are my Job days.

Twenty-first century Job days.

The intolerant man at the library.

My frightened son.

A new passion encumbered by suspicion

Neither one of us deserves.

Is the outstretched hand just another prison?

These are my Job days,

My memory lesson days.

God has arrived and the whirlwind has subsided.

The graves have sunk to level ground

The children play not far afield.

I smile, I laugh, I learn and teach,

But wonder did Job ever stop to pause, as I do,

Over bright meadows, golden harvests, and

Soft cold winter nights, colder now somehow.

Did Job long for the soft touch of rest and repose and

Stare into darkness instead?

Did he scrape the scares of the sores God allowed?

Does the servant never cower now?

These are my Job days.

Old enough to let go, endure the ache of regret

But not quite old enough to forget.

God’s quiet voice echoes in my head.

He always answers with a question.

His favorite, “Were you there?”

For my life, yes, I was there.

And like Job, no human touch,

No smile, no kind expression means sincere connection.

Every man for himself, every fresh looking whore too,

Every child, every demanding parent, every well meaning

Friend sinks to memory, a crashing memory of sickness, disease,

Catastrophe, the blank stare of despondency

During these Job days.

As pencil scrapes paper and cadence settles in

I’m hiding in my car, cold feet, aching hands.

No leaves on the trees a beautiful blue sky

People go by. Did Job have these days?

Did Job remember his own cry for justice?

Did the memory of his own staunch defense

And belief in his innocence weary and slacken his mind?

What does restored mean?

That we’ve learned well to handle the emotions and

Trials of catastrophe, disease, death –

Yet a slighted touch, a cross word, a moment’s silence

Too long between lovers,

Crashes the sky and breaks the heart.

These are the scares that remain

And the servant’s heart has yet to be restored.

These are my Job days.

These Servant of God Days / Lydia Ink by SK Woodiwiss