Note: I began writing this post on Monday. Then in the middle of it, I learned that Robin Williams had killed himself, and then nothing made sense any more…….
“Perhaps—I want the old days back again and they’ll never come back, and I am haunted by the memory of them and of the world falling about my ears.” ~ Margaret Mitchell, from Gone With the Wind
Monday afternoon. Cloudy and probably rain, 84 degrees.
Last night’s super moon was spectacular. I’m so glad that the clouds didn’t overshadow it. When I got up to let the dogs out, the entire backyard was awash in moonlight. So incredibly perfect.
The other day, I saw something I’ve never seen before: a buzzard was hanging out in someone’s front yard, munching on something . . . well, dead. Brett and I drove by, and he said, “Hey, that’s a buzzard!”
Of course I had missed it, so I drove around the block and then slowed as we neared the yard in which Brett had seen the bird. I saw it, and it was huge. Unfortunately, it heard the car and took flight. My, those wings, so massive. It was really something to see; we couldn’t have been more than twelve feet from it. I mean, I’ve seen them in the air, but never this close, and this still.
The other cool thing that happened is that Brett and I went thrifting, and I found a set of glass fish snack plates. I only have one fish plate left, and I’ve never had the snack size (about 5 inches wide), so I grabbed them. A while back I had looked on E-bay, and a set of two of the large fish plates was going for $30. Too pricey. I got eight of the small ones for $20. Such a deal.
Of course, to balance the two good things are two horrendous dreams: In both dreams, I see fire burst through a wall, and I immediately wake up—same image for both dreams, same reaction for both dreams. It has me more than a little paranoid, checking cords and connections, making sure nothing is frayed or a hazard. This particular scenario really has me unnerved.
“Later I’ll sweep away the nest—empty,
again, of everything but a blind
belief in the possible.” ~ Peter Everwine, from “Another Spring”
In spite of the fire dreams, I’m feeling pretty good, and I suppose I have good reason: Social Security has finally, finally approved my disability claim. As a brief refresher, I was first forced out on disability in October 2007. I’ve been fighting with social security ever since.
I know that I am fortunate that I was covered for long-term disability through George Washington’s policy, but the endless fight with Social Security has taken a toll on me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve filled out the same forms, answered the same questions, had the same interviews. So even though they wanted to date it retroactive to November 15, 2012, I decided to accept.
When I asked the lawyer why that particular date, she said that they noticed from my therapy notes that I had taken a real downturn at that time . . .
No kidding. Really? How incredibly astute of them, she said, with more than a trace of bitter sarcasm . . .
What this means is that I don’t quality for Medicare until May of next year (for some reason, dates, times, confusing). And the backdated benefits that I’ll receive all have to be paid to my long-term disability carrier anyway (it’s part of the agreement), so the date doesn’t affect me that much. The irony is that the effective date would have meant so much a few years back when Corey was unemployed, and we were struggling, really struggling to keep my health insurance and a roof over our heads.
Until nightfall my son ran in the fields,
looking for God knows what.
Flowers, perhaps. Odd birds on the wing.
Something to fill an empty spot.
Maybe a luminous angel
or a country girl with a secret dark.
He came back empty-handed,
or so I thought.
Now I find them:
the barbed weeds
all those with hooks or horns
the snaggle-toothed, the grinning ones
those wearing lantern jaws,
old ones in beards, leapers
in silk leggings, the multiple
pocked moons and spiny satellites, all those
with juices and saps
like the fingers of thieves
nation after nation of grasses
that dig in, that burrow, that hug winds
and grab handholds
in whatever lean place.
In a corner under the eaves
of the porch, a nesting dove—
the same returning dove—tosses
a few dry weeds, willy-nilly,
into the prevailing wind, then waits
for them to fall in place. Some do.
Because I mean her no harm
she allows me to draw close
to her precarious balcony.
I bid her good morning,
she cocks her head at me and blinks—
two old familiars who share
a moment of dappled light falling
on the peaceable kingdom
of the front porch.
This morning, a light drift
of feathers on the lawn
and the day’s expectations sour.
Each spring this dumb show of events
repeats itself: a nest abandoned, another
plundered by crow or jay, eggs
spilled from their thatch, an inch
of blue flesh, like a maimed thumb,
drying in the sun.
Does the dove, in its season,
despite its plaintive moan, learn nothing?
And I, in mine? I fetch the paper
from the lawn, people drive by
to another day of work.
Nothing is brought to completion.
Later I’ll sweep away the nest—empty,
again, of everything but a blind
belief in the possible.
“I heard the steady sound of rain and the soft lapping of water, and did not know whether it was grief or joy or something other that surged against my heart and held me listening there so long and late.” ~ Peter Everwine, from “Rain”
Monday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 37 degrees.
Well, it’s been another long stretch between posts. As you can probably understand (or perhaps not), I haven’t had the wherewithal to write. I sit down here at my computer, and then I do one of three things: look online for books or makeup or whatever; take care of more of my mother’s affairs; play spider solitaire.
This morning when I awoke, I seriously thought of just staying in bed, never leaving, but my back hurt, and I needed to stretch, and besides, coffee . . .
My emotions go up and down and up and down, they swoop and swirl like the starlings’ murmurings, but without the natural beauty. I would like to be a bird, to float on the air, to move like that, to concentrate only on the concerns of eating, moving, and surviving, which, I suppose, is what life is, after all.
Sometimes, I sit in the bath at night with nothing but the candlelight, and I cry, sometimes softly, sometimes loudly, but I try to reserve the loud crying for times during which I am alone as I know that it gets to Brett and Corey. Sometimes, though, I just sit there, forget where I am or what I’m doing. I will tell you something truthfully: I did not anticipate how very much my mother’s death would affect me. I only have one message on my voice mail from her, and it’s the one in which she apologizes for forgetting my birthday. Do not ask how many times I have tortured myself listening to it.
“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost—the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.” ~ David Levithan, from Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Yesterday I went to one of those jewelry parties at my cousin’s house. It was nice to be invited, but I felt clumsy in my skin. All of these women, having easy conversations, laughing, smiling, sharing stories. I sat next to my aunt, and when she wasn’t there, I buried myself in catalogs, pretending to peruse the items.
I do not do socialization with strangers well.
I forced myself to stay for two hours, getting up, looking, nibbling, and when I thought I had been polite, I ordered the jewelry that I could not afford, thanked my hostess, and left.
Don’t get me wrong, I was so excited to receive the invitation. I sent my RSVP back immediately, and I tried to convince Alexis to go with me (she didn’t). I don’t know what I expected of myself, but I was unprepared for how unprepared I was. As you know, I do not leave the house much unless circumstances force me to, or someone in my family needs something. Perhaps I have forgotten how to socialize. People who knew me years ago would be astonished at the change. When I was much younger, I always had a circle about me; I could be lively, engaging even.
But now . . . I just don’t know, and the not knowing makes me want to hide even more.
“And I still don’t know if I’m a falcon, a storm, or an unfinished song.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Ich lebe mein Leben in waschsenden Ringen (I live my life in widening circles)”
I have to admit, my unintentional leave of absence from this blog and from tumblr has helped in some ways. I do not remember the last time I went through my tumblr dashboard. I miss some parts of it—finding new artists, new quotes, new poems—but I am relieved from the sense of obligation that I imposed upon myself, that if I missed a few days, I would not stop until I had caught up, going back for days to see what I had missed.
As far as being here, though, that was something else. I just didn’t know what to say, and so I said . . .
nothing . . .
An old family friend called me on my mother’s birthday, but I wasn’t answering the phone that day. She left a lovely message, told me she was thinking about me, about my mom, that she loved me. I haven’t returned the call, probably won’t. Not because I don’t appreciate the words, but more that I just don’t think that I have words of my own.
The plan was to have a family dinner on Sunday the 16th, celebrate Eamonn’s birthday, and distribute some of mom’s ashes at both cemeteries (dad’s and Caitlin’s). The plan fell apart. Eamonn was too hungover. We had pizza with Lex, Mike, and Brett, and then on Monday, I made homemade spaghetti for Eamonn per his request. And then the weather got nasty again, and we decided just to postpone the ashes.
They are still in the trunk of my car. And I know that it might seem that that’s a horrible place for them, but I find it comforting, somehow. It’s my mother’s car, and she’s still in it.
“Write with blood, and you will find that blood is spirit.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Thus Spoke Zarathustra
This week I have doctors’ appointments, and I need to finish wrangling with more of my mother’s affairs, the federal government and GEICO—both of which make me nauseous just to think about. Last week I set up a new insurance policy on her house, and this past weekend Brett spent the weekend in the house. We moved Earl Grey the cat to Alexis’s house, and he seems to have adapted well, so now the house is quiet when we walk in.
My mother’s house was never quiet. She could not abide silence, which is why at any given time of the night or day you would find the television blaring. But now? Nothing. That is another strange part.
I don’t know. Telephone calls, messages, policies, whatever. Today, I just cannot do it. I just cannot muster what it takes to head once more into the fray, yet I cannot help but feel guilty that I am not taking care of these things. My mother was such a stickler for paying everyone on time, early, never ever late, but I’ve run out of money. I’ve paid everything except for a couple of small things, but it’s the doing that is getting to me. The actual act of doing something.
Pardon me, please. I seem to be saying a whole lot of nothing.
“but I have the kind of patience born of indifference and hate.
Maybe the river and I share this.” ~ Michael McGriff, from “Catfish”
The other morning when Tillie had awakened me around 4 a.m. to go out, I stood at the door and listened to the birds’ morning songs. I heard a new sound that I have never heard before. I stood there for a while and listened, and then I thought that I should probably record the sound so that I could find out what it was. I finally found my phone, went to the door, and the sound stopped.
I don’t remember what it was, or why I was so enchanted by it. I had thought that it might be a bat, but I listened to some bat sounds online, and that doesn’t seem to be it. I know that we get bats in this area, but I’ve never seen one.
Anyway, I had forgotten how much I love the predawn bird song, something I used to love to listen to when my insomnia was in high gear. There is something beautiful about that hour, when the sounds of cars and trucks are almost non existent, the noise of people is tempered, and only the birds and night creatures hold sway.
The house is dark and still. Everyone else is deep in sleep. Just the dogs, me, and the birds. For that brief spell, it is almost perfect.
Music by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, “Say Something”
The Piano Chord Most Adjacent to the Inexpressible
The piano chord most adjacent to the inexpressible is the
one that dissolves into flocks of flying birds
The tree as it moves through the breeze most
adjacent to conducting the sonorous
filaments of the air stands as tall as a
doorman to an entranceway to the eternal mysteries
The desert most adjacent to spiritual enlightenment is the
one whose dunes yesterday don’t resemble its
dunes today and whose dunes today
have slopes and dips totally ocean-like and unlike any of its
The rain is finally falling after a month of drought
little earth-lips opening to drink in each drop
and the song each water-drinking element sings
resembles the chorus of an ancient opera sung among
cataclysmic rocks above tumultuous seas
There are no people in this poem
they are either asleep or haven’t been born yet
but the sound in the landscape most adjacent to the
deep heartfelt human voice
is the night-cricket seeming to long for a mate wherever
it may happen to hear its lament repeated
incessantly but melodiously through the dark
So like us
in catastrophe or anti-catastrophe
calling out to space from our centrifugal loneliness
with a voice most adjacent to the
silent nuzzling feeler to feeler of ants meeting from
and lights beaming from north and south and brightly
blending somewhere over the
Arctic in a purple and scarlet shivering aurora borealis
whose ripples are most adjacent to the
music of the spheres hanging down into the
visible from the invisible heavens whose
radiant flowing draperies curving through the folding air