“Way to Go”

I will have to get waterproof mascara and my nails done. 
I want glossy black,
all slick on the ends of my hands and feet
as if dark parts of my soul quickly tried to escape
the last bit of living right at the end. 
Blood red lipstick for a change. 
(it is a special occasion and I’ll be needing some colour.)
……and naked shouldn’t be an issue.  I’ve kept myself in good enough shape,
even at my age I’m a pretty good looking nude. 
I don’t think anyone will be grossed out or anything. 

With incidentals decided, my only question is time. 
I don’t want to be left for days. 
I will have to call someone with a worrisome nature. 
But not my mother! 
I couldn’t do that to her.  Maybe Aunt Freda. 
I’ll just mention how poorly I feel and that I might go to the doctor
and that I’ll call her back after I’m out of the bath. 
The flag of doubt will be planted. 

Why am I suddenly thinking of car lots and all those flapping pennants,
silver in the Saturday afternoon sun,
waving for buyers to stop here,
to bring in their old life and to leave with a new one,
fixed interest and a tank of gas
to head toward Mexico and freedom?

I’m side tracked by fast talking and that new car smell
….where was I? 

Oh yea. I remember.

It will need to be chilly since cold is more preserving. 
I understand that breathing is easy,
one big gasp in and it is almost over. 
If only there will be perfect blackness waiting, waiting for me. 
I suspect a different ending.  My Christian upbringing
has me fearing a gate and a wall,
judgment seats and a great white throne.  I know for certain one thing though. 
I won’t have to do any explaining,
my tub of water saying it all.

Trusting my captor was human and fallible,
I looked for patterns,
for inconsistencies
for an accidental setting aside of keys
for doors routinely left ajar.
I sniffed the air for fear or hesitancy, 
for a pity release,
but mercy wasn’t his style
and the shackles weren’t as bad as all that.
Time went by and he replaced the iron chains
with gold chains, and an occasional diamond. 
We called the manacles “bracelets” and symbols of love,
and soon I didn’t feel “safe” without bars across windows
or yards without fences.
Openness grew foreign.  I didn’t know until way later how many body
parts I would have to chew off just to walk away.

I’m burning to death:
Can’t eat. 
Can’t sleep. 
All I want to do is go back and I can’t do that.
(Can’t go forward either.)
This is a dangerous place: stuck: shackled.
If something doesn’t change, I’m afraid I’ll jump,
or maybe I’m afraid I won’t.
Heaven help me.  I need air!
But as badly as I’m blazing, I don’t want put out.

How could she say it was because he horded his words:
Kept them locked up like prize possessions:
everyone starving around him and him with his dinner
plates displayed on the walls.  (some of them filled with ham and green beans.)
All of them forbidden to be touched or used.
Certainly no eating allowed!!
She longed for him to strike her with the back of his hand,
right across her jaw full force one good time;
or for him to stick his penis one place it didn’t belong, just once.
Then she would have an action to point toward: a sentence
on the document to turn abstract to concrete, hardening and finalizing evidence.
But he didn’t.  In fact, he looked great on paper and she was the one in writing
who looked as if they had been fraternizing with blame;  fault held her hand, rubbing her thigh
underneath the table.
He planned to wait her out, knowing how much slimmer she was than him. She
would starve first, until one day her skeleton would simply crumble.  They would be watching TV, or
rather he would be watching TV, she would be sitting on the edge of the sofa,
breathing mostly, when the dust would come and take her over.
Again she was back to the horrible hope that he would turn hideous,
she needing a monster to justify an escape.  She had been deprived into this place, into
this strange creature, one whose only hope was that a fellow human being might grow fangs
and a taste for blood.  At least then, a running away would make sense. 

“47 feeling great”
Today 47 feels great!  It makes me long for my convertible.  I know if I had an old friend or two I could do
some damage.  (Some Aerosmith and a lot of empty road would be in for some big trouble.)
I’ve got the same restlessness that I had when I was 17 and willing to do almost anything to escape:
to run away and not just for a few days but for forever:
to grab extra shoes and underwear and never be seen again.
But I didn’t run away at 17 and at 47 it is Saturday and I’m doing laundry
and loading the dish washer.  (maybe vacuum.)
I’m ashamed.  VERY VERY ashamed.
I don’t deserve this restless heart.

I am counting again.  This time sentences, words, how many I have and how many it will take
to survive the rest of my life.
(strangely at this place, having less time ahead than behind is good.)
The less time, the less miserly I will have to be. 
I don’t want the words to become common.
I’ll have to rotate them and save some reading for only special occasions.
And some may have to be destroyed, their very existence a fire hazard.
How many?
I don’t know how many.
I only know that right now, it is not enough.

Mesmerized by the thought of you sleeping, the un-guardedness of  it, the vulnerability, the possibility
that I might could take you, subdue you,
might could conquer . 
I lay still devising a plan.

My having grown numb to cold’s pain,
accustomed to gnawing lack,
I had no reason to burn.  Everything I owned was wet.
I fear this fire you kindle,
a flame a little too high for comfort.
A blaze such as this has only two choices,
to consume all and sadly burn out
or to take the forest. 

“Escape 2”
I thought I was old and tired, but it turns out I’m just bored.
Been living like the family dog;  I’ve seen all your squeaky toys,
had my way with your socks.  Forgive me
if I don’t chase my tail.  I caught it once;  it wasn’t what I thought.
Apparently at this point, it is going to require a little “more”
for me to scamper around the room in a happy frenzy. 
Maybe something warm that bleeds,
Something with a wild capacity,
possibly exploding into a million pieces and burning off my fur.
(or at least a hole in the rug.)
Something fearful, something that might exile me to the back yard or worse-the pound.

“Absurdity Hits”
I am greased, glued, sprayed, padded, underwired & deodorized.
No part of me smells like pure skin or scent gland: 
Nothing of a woman.
I am surprised that every animal I am in contact with doesn’t come up to me
In curiosity:  trying to figure out what I am.
That is a good question;  what am I?
An awful lot of time and money are spent disguising me, my nature.  It is fatiguing
me to be this creature.  I can’t believe I don’t have a feather
in my hair, or a jingle bell around my ankle.  Is this last part of my life to be lived like the first part
hidden and someone else?

Today I am short of breath and what that means literally is that every now and then I open my chest and gulp like a gasping fish, thrown for one reason or another (maybe supper) onto the dry wooden pier:  my shoulders shrug quickly with great effort and not much result. 
The air is present, just not satisfying:  just not enough to reach that bottom part of my lung, which seems to be the only real part that matters.
I learn and adjust by moving slowly:  keeping breathing shallow and even.  But this day is impatient and demands more of me than the air it gives. 
I mean, of all things, breathing is expected.

“Making Stars”
One of us needs to make our own stars: 
                     the stronger of the two makes the most sense.                                      
I’m not delusional.  I know it won’t be easy:
The universe itself has slowed production:  our own milky way already down to only 4 or 5 new stars per year.  Some day none and then a quiet darkness rising over us.
You will have to be the one.  You will have to use an undeniable force to scoop me up as you sling by, orbiting whatever mass has gravity enough to catch you, to hold your dust.  It will require a grave pull.
My darling you deserve an independent body, with a light of its own, maybe some rings like Saturn’s.  But the stellar reality is that I’m weak.  No air, my atmosphere too thin.  At best I’m a small satellite: a simple moon content to control a tide or to be gazed upon by lovers now and then.
I only know that I’m spinning   
You’re spinning
Everything is spinning
Surely you can do something about this, about us, about this twirling galaxy which has us spiraling
Has us flung across the black sky like the very last nebula fighting the great vast and void.

“What God Knows”
I don’t worry about you “finding God”.  He’s not lost.
He knows where Hs is;  He knows where you are.
He knows most things.
He is a little confused by your silence though:
Doesn’t know just how you cannot whisper His name
when you see the brief ever changing neon mauve of the evening sky,
Or not breathe a thank you when you taste your lover’s lips- soft and yielding in the early kiss.
How do you not see all those wild bold stars without shouting Wow God, what were you thinking?

“Talk to Me”
Searching for something beautiful enough to carry me through,
I lift pages, petals, lips of camels: examining teeth and gums, knowing only that I’ll know it when I see it.
When I hear it.  With my preference for the sound of “L”, adverb filled sentences are a possibility.
You could help me here if you would.  Give me more than a grunt or an “I don’t remember”  my heart so ready for words, even false ones.  Something.
I’ll take lies at this point:  anything willing to sound wave and bounce,
Just a voice, deep, gentle and aimed in my direction.    

“Living with the tiger”
It was if the world sensed that I was awake and lucid:
having wild thoughts beyond my own little door and out of myself.
COULDN’T HAVE THAT!  QUICK! Wake up the house to ask  a few trivial questions, to throw off the balance.  “Where is the mayonnaise sweetie?  What did you do with my socks?”
Some will say it is my own doing-well deserved-caught in my own devices.
Know This;  I never set a trap. 
The room was stuffy-merely stuffy:  the doors and windows opened for air.  I couldn’t breathe that staleness a moment more!
As welcomed as his fur was, he was never truly invited.  He could have sniffed the threshold and walked away.  Just Walked Away.

Now iced tea and a nice rug isn’t enough and every time he flexes his claws, my scarred back flinches and stings.

“phone call about head in the box”

I haven’t looked in the box in over a month or better. 
The only way I know it is still in there is by the weight
and the occasional rolling thump
of the contents shifting.  And of course the smell. 
I would like to look, but I’m afraid of the eyes. 
What if I open the lid to find that I’m staring at myself,
all glazed over with sort of a bewildered expression and asking why? 

In the beginning, I wanted people to see,
going as far as leaving it on my desk with the flaps unfolded. 
But lately there is a sense of danger;  
I feel the need to hide, to guard this condition. 
I keep it on my person as much as possible,
pretending that I’m perpetually on my way to UPS or the post office. 
The box is ready for mailing, stamped and addressed. 
No one has noticed that I would be sending it to myself:  
not yet at least.
My biggest risk is when I exercise. 
Since I can’t take it with me on the run,
I lump it on the edge of the dining room table with my briefcase and folders from work.  It appears to be yet one more “to do” to check off my list. 
To do.  What to do?  It wasn’t meant to go this far and yet here I am, wondering how to grab this thing by the hair of the head without getting bit. 

I guess I should be glad that it is quiet now. 
It was really difficult early on with all the whimpering sounds
escaping the box.  Its cries purposed all kinds of challenges
in the hiding department. 
Every now and then a little anger still seeps from the bottom of the box
and leaves a ring wherever I have it resting. 
Resting, I sure could use some of that.

At this point, I fear I need a little more than merely a shovel
to finish this job.  That is why I called you.  
I need your expert advice?  Where is my clear alibi?  What should I do? 
I have been practicing a reveal,
but none of the emotions seem to fit this situation.  
This is certainly beyond my feigning surprise or merely apologizing. 
How soon could you be here and with a trunk?  I need a trunk. 
I know this a lot to throw at our friendship, but I have to ask. 
I know you are loyal and can keep a secret. 
All there is for you to do is say yes or no.  Either way is OK. 
I’ll understand.  I’m in a place where I figure it can’t hurt to ask.  
Nothing can escalate “this” anymore than it already is. 
The decaying process has long begun.  
I need some lime and a plastic bag.  Are you in?

"Three Ways to Escape"

If there were a warning moment,
say when the faint smell of smoke delicately swirled in the upper air,
or the rising water could be heard tenderly lapping the baseboards,
it was gentle enough to be regarded as common
and remained unnoticed until tragically beyond any hope of help.

Why I didn’t feel the sticky blood on my thigh, or see its bold
red flash out of the corner of my eye, I don’t know.

What I do know is that when I regained my mind
about me, it wasn’t just the house or the room,
but the bed itself that was flame engulfed and out of the realm of escape or possible rescue. 

Before I saw the liquid trickling under the door
and the swollen walls dangerously sweating, weeping,
seeping through soggy sheetrock and buckling floors, my lungs
were already filled with the water. 
I didn’t know to what extent breathed in water
burned, or how simple a drowning could be. 
Face down in the sink water:  a little gasp and it was over. 

the least frightening way was the bleeding. 
Maybe because it was so far along before I chose to see it. 
Anyway, I actually think I smelled it first.
( if that is something you can do with blood, smell it I mean.) 
It was already puddles and clumps around my feet and hands, fetal on the floor
when I thought that maybe I should take some action. 
But limbs don’t move after a certain level of loss
and I just watched.  I looked and looked away
and then looked again until I was tired and all that was left was to close my eyes. 

Closing my eyes was the last thing I did. 
Always the prompt one, I didn’t want to be tardy for my appointment,
But I found myself stalling.  I waited as late as possible, enjoying
( if that is the appropriate word to be used in a death sentence such as this)
the background music with which I had hummed my entire life: 
sweet melody always off in the distance and just out of reach or ability to learn the words.
I watched one more time the bold sweeping movement of light and shadow, smiling as they shamelessly flirted across my walls:  my heavy lids dropping them into a fuzzy edged blur. 
I was gone.


Water is everywhere along the road: 
ponds, puddles, swollen ditches and creeks. 
The river (over its banks as far up as the park where every summer we see Shakespeare on the Lawn) covers part of the road. 
With all these places to drink and cool off, the dogs go with me on my walks.  They lead.
You and I haven’t spoken more than two sentences to each other in months.  That is if you don’t count grocery lists and lectures on not leaving the garage door open.
All these little bodies of water shimmering along the path remind me how many places there truly are that you can simply lay your face into and breathe.  They whisper to me as I walk past them. 
With it such a wet season, drowning would be so easy.