Category Archives: spirit

Sunder

She knew that she wasn’t there to be herself. She was playing a role. Perhaps she just helped in some way. Perhaps she was the home base for journeys on which she was not invited. Perhaps she was only small. Perhaps she was the coffee table, sentient and dreaming. Something was off, just enough incongruity in the dialog and timing.

She’d argue, because she knew she was substantial, tangible. She knew. But there were solid terms of her appointment. Her words possessed a gravity that was made of hope and ideas of what could be, but were weak against the absolutes, the larger forces. When she’d break out, occasionally, she’d breathe, but eventually find her way back to that horrible equilibrium that was dancing delicately on pins of hunger and abstinence. Back to the same stage. So much for rearranging the furniture, rewriting the dialog in the next scene.

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Play

Brothers on the mountain
Grey and blue play shivers
At dusk, to get it out before
Curfew and the scolding
Of the moon

Sisters in the field,
Green and gold play tremors
At dawn, tiring themselves before
Breakfast and the swaddling
Of the sun

Lovers under the waves,
Pink and red play tangles
At midnight, grooming one another after
Mass and the awakening
Of the tide


Night Heat

Heat chokes the region.  My lawn is essentially a field of brown weeds, as I cannot justify watering it, save to keep my property value up.  I mow it, and the relative eveness keeps it presentable.  

A ritual and sweaty lunch walk.  An amble with my dog down near the stream along the biking trail.  This weekend, a difficult ascent up a Blue Ridge mountain peak. Outside, feeling alive in the push through the low haze of late July.

The sun fuels me, recharging a body that is frequently tired, exhausted, and fatigued.  It bookends my days in the summer, when the hours of sunlight are favorable and long. Going to bed just after sunset and rising as the sky starts to lighten has me, on most days, missing out on the darkness of night outside.  Waking up during the night, my room has been starkly transformed to blue and grey.  I often step out onto my deck.

Around my home, night isn’t silent, but rather, a noisy orchestra of foxes, birds, cicadas, crickets, and cats.  The heat remains, though tempered and dulled, while inside, a ceiling fan provides a measure of relief as I return. Night noises penetrate the walls. Outside my room, the nocturnal respite from blazing sunshine has the wildlife riled to a peak summer frenzy, it appears.

My dog stirs when he senses I am awake, sitting up or walking over the edge of the bed to pant in my face, as if to let me know he’s also ready for some night air. On nights when I opt to stay in bed, I’ll pat his head and roll over. Moments after ignoring him, he’ll shuffle off, turn, and set himself down hard, expelling a “harumph”. Minutes later, his breathing turns to snoring.

I’ll roll and contort, unable to sleep without a sheet, but alternatively sweating beneath it.  Eventually, sounds will melt into dreams, warmth will transform to slumber.


Daughter

She laughs and we make up songs along with the radio “fresh hits”, usually about the dog or some other silliness.    She’s clever, almost as clever as her dad at finding a dumb rhyme to work in the words “Zeus” or “poop”.

She’s trying to make me laugh, and that is the whole point.  She says, “I love you, Daddy” three or four times during an hour long trip.

She’s tougher than she used to be, able to change her mood from self-pity to resolve by refocusing and moving onto the next thing. She’s way more adaptive.

She’s so much like me. She’s nutty creative. She’s a cuddler.

She is on the cusp of change, and I see her genuinely facing it.


Easy Crazy

I will plant myself at the end of my driveway.

Like an old friend, the chatter of a suburban world just past bedtime will hold me in conversation, like it had when I whispered, knowing my kids were dozing just above the garage, two in the same bed, there because the other one was.

My crazy will flutter under the beam of the lamp, dissolve into an old comfort.  This spot, where I pulled my knees up inside my arms, believing that newness in the world was an old letter finally finding its way to my home, will be different.  My crazy will attach itself to the moths and crickets dancing outside of me.

Thoughts will be of a friend whom I will soon visit, and what I will say.  No wisdom to impart, just a punched ticket and a lot of miles. He’s five years behind, and has no idea what the end of a driveway brings.

Thoughts of someone else.  Easy thoughts.

I will watch for shooting stars and feel at ease with my crazy.  The planning, the parting, and simpler things, like smiles and painting and dancing, will come easier here.  Being with me comes easier.  Sleep comes easier.

And I will wait for my crazy to return in a fox’s whine or the hum of the freeway.  I will wrap it up in humid summer air and see it to bed.


It Just Doesn’t Matter

Accepting and striving counterpoised. It all reminds me of Tripper’s speech, in the movie Meatballs…

That’s just the attitude we don’t need. Sure, Mohawk has beaten us twelve years in a row. Sure, they’re terrific athletes. They’ve got the best equipment that money can buy. Hell, every team they’re sending over here has their own personal masseuse, not masseur, masseuse. But it doesn’t matter. Do you know that every Mohawk competitor has an electrocardiogram, blood and urine tests every 48 hours to see if there’s any change in his physical condition? Do you know that they use the most sophisticated training methods from the Soviet Union, East and West Germany, and the newest Olympic power Trinidad-Tobago? But it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. I tell you, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!

And even, and even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days. Even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field. Even if every man, woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn’t matter, because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk cause they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!

It doesn’t matter…at least, the thing we were all supposed to want. This is not nihilism, but a rejection of some external definition of winning and losing in favor of some other acceptance. 

Detractors will appear. Critics and well meaning sages may offer unsolicited comment.

Settling? Perhaps. So what? 

I know what does matter to me most of the time, and it is different than it used to be.


Son

He’s getting older and I am getting old.  He doesn’t want to talk so much these days, and I want too much to talk with him.  He is fine, even when he is not, and this we have in common.

He is a man in ways he may not recognize. He is young, and he has the benefit of choices, a terribly scary burden. He is excited to make them his. 

He is my son, and he is tied to my life. He is his own, not yet on his own.


Tracing

Having been so careful to
follow the connections
and trace the web
to its center,
the question sticking
to my finger tip,
in the end, holds no
answer I need to know.


Coach

Even my son called me “Coach” when we were on the field.  I suppose it was easier for both of us.  I could correct, teach, and praise with the roles defined and accepted. He could play, develop, and be part of the team. Player and Coach.  We were on the same team, but with clearly different responsibilities. 

I was still Dad on the way to the game and the ride home.  Talking about video games, the weekend plans, and school.

Coaching is now over for me in the sense it was for tee-ball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, basketball, lacrosse, and football.  My office at home is decorated by plaques and photos, signed by my players and fellow coaches.  With my kids moving into upper school, the rec league years are in the past. And I did not miss out of them.  I am thankful.

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Finally and More

Two ticks, so far,
in a forest of black fur,
still hungry, searching,
and not yet settled
into his skin.

Exhausted, he lets me comb
through his mass, a massage he thinks,
tongue a slab of deli ham,
my dog smiles with his eyes
and ears; surely this must be his
post-hike reward.

He swims through a bowl
of water, everywhere spashing,
then gobbles up his kibble,
perhaps thinking between breaths
that this day wasn’t his typical
lazy day.

Hills, mud, rocks and up, up, up.
More likely, he is thinking,
now that the air is just between
cool and warm and full of
critter scents and bird songs,
“Finally!” and “More!”