Sadie hid under the wild lilac bush because the smell made her feel safe. For hours she would watch the day through the branches of tightly clustered blooms that turned everything to purple beauty. She would hold her arm against the flowers to see if the marks matched the same pretty color of the blooms that smelled so sweet. Then Sadie would sniff her own purple marks but they smelled of salt and sadness.
When Mama came looking for her and bark out, “Sadie, where are you? You’re gonna get it, girl!” Sadie would sing to herself and close her eyes. And dream of living in a house made of lilacs—of sweet smells and soft petals. The lush branches were arms that swallowed her into a nest of forgetting and daydreams.
And in Sadie’s dream she would grow up wild like this bush, all arms and legs reaching out to the sun and morning sky and smiling with sweet repose. She would sway with the breeze and make people smile as they passed her on the path. And they would want pieces of her to take home and put in vases and wear in their hair.
When the sky reflected the color of the lilacs Sadie would rise and slowly amble home. Quiet like a mouse into her room. And fall asleep to the smell of lilacs.
Christine and Clancy’s take on lilacs
“Please give.” Dirty hands calloused with wanting. An addled mind mumbling confession in altered universe time. Filth the mortar that make the walls of home. A grey spectre composed of rags and squeaking wheels. Rattling bottles sing the tune of the no-man – who huddles in shadows no one wants or even sees.
Christine gives it a shot and Clancy giving it a chance
Spring means water. That falls from the sky, soaks the hills green and awakens seedlings in their faerie dance toward the sun.
April showers bring May flowers – mother always said when I was little and complaining about putting on boots and hats. Peering the grey skies never informed me of vibrant reds, blues, yellows or pinks but rather of squatting near heaters with tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.
And the rain set my rhyming voice a-spinning. April showers last for hours. April showers dilute my powers. April showers topple towers.
When April comes, I wait for May – I wait for flowers and dream of dappled sun under leafy canopies, where the breeze whispers her secrets to me.
Christine splashes in the rain and Clancy avoids puddles
The best laid plans…I have many. All the time. Every day. Every week. But I keep breaking those promises to myself. Funny because I always keep my word to everyone else, I follow through, I do the do I said I would do. But the promises made to self seem to matter less. As though what others think of me trumps what I think of myself.
You know best…I am beginning to see what you meant in that not so long ago. For as crazy as you are you did know best when it came to the words. Not everyone writes the real but rather an altered reality designed to bring praise and sunshine but without revelation. Yes, the words matter because they are all we have to give. What we leave behind. Slivers of our souls that we part with before we stand naked before God and await judgment.
Hope for the best…I do, really, I do. I lean in close to seek the truth. My nose pressed up against the words that paint the images. Mine and theirs. I look hard but often fail to see. I listen but sometimes miss the notes. And my hope is the gauze that filters the view. Yes, I can see the ugly and the mean – the raw and the hopeless. And yet I hope for the best, hope that gleam on the edges will grow brighter and warmer. And that our glasses are always full.
Christine’s best and Clancy’s best
It was a day of bad – jangled nerves and threatened tears. Too much hurry and what’s the rush? Short, hot tempers. And nothing went right. And the wrong sunk down to my bones and into my blood.
And when the message came I was alone. In a dark night that wept rain, leaving everything slick and oily with grief. And before she answered the phone I knew he was dead. I only called to ask why?
Christine wonders why? And Clancy wants to know why?
Wipers count out a one-two beat.
And the mist rises off the road like
some long-ago ghost that haunted my childhood dreams.
Brake lights—eerie red eyes flying
in wide shriek against gauzy air and formless shapes.
Slow egress to the safety of home.
Christine’s rainy day and Clancy’s puddles
I don’t want to give up everything for love
And I did…
my books and music
my home and friends
And I don’t want anyone to be my everything
because I lost myself that way
and I’m still missing pieces
I’m different now
and different isn’t always good
And I don’t want a life where everything is on the line
Winning big, always the promise
Losing all, always the outcome
I want my everything to be
to be its own separate, glorious thing
radiating its own energy
sparkling its own ideas and adventures
No more everything that becomes a nothing
no more surrender to have what isn’t mine
no more relinquish to be who I am not
No more gambles on promises that cannot be kept
are never meant
that lets you off on the dark corner of confusion
Fending once again for yourself
whom you’ve lost
because you gave up
Is everything copacetic with Christine?
How’s everything with Clancy?
I was wearing a flower in my hair the night I fell in love for the first time. I, in my Audrey Hepburn yellow dress and brand new shoes. He, tall and blue-eyed – and oh-so-handsome. Everyone said I looked older than my fourteen years. And maybe I did with my french twisted hair, tucked with a yellow rose – my rouged lips and mascara’d lashes.
The big hall echoed with country songs, mumbles and shuffling feet. And I didn’t know where to put my eyes or rest my hands. What to say or how to act. So shy was I that I was there to watch as everyone else had fun. My hormones wouldn’t let me smile or feel at ease.
But there he was, hand outstretched. Smiling. “Me?” He took my hand and I floated to my feet. My lock-kneed legs followed his lead and I didn’t dare look at him or else I might die on the spot. I kept my flushed face poised to the floor. He talked and I listened. And then the dance ended.
Where did Christine’s flower lead?
What flowers are in Clancy’s hair?
It was a day weighted by humid imposition, though not unlike others where you resign to the constant feel of sticky skin and of breathing water rather than air. The kind of day you wish from your six-year-old imagination for a icy breeze to cool hot damp skin and ruffle stringy hair away from your neck. Where even the ants labor under the oppression and struggle in their unified march toward the nest.
And like a whisper from God’s breath a wind roars down and you feel gleeful relief but for a moment. But then the rushing clouds eclipse the sun and mother is calling you to hurry. Hurry toward home. And as you rise to your Keds-shod feet a stillness takes all captive. The steady rumble of living creatures hush in unison and maybe the earth pauses in its spinning rotation, having lost sight of the sun.
And a crackling boom illuminates the sky with veiny fingers of electricity pointing the way toward shelter. You know it now, that the big wind is coming. The big, dangerous wind, that gobbles up trees and cars and spews debris in cacophonic abandon.
Grey thunder rumbles like a pot boiling over and the first fat drops of rain hit bare arms and legs, which are pumping fast, fast toward home. Mother leans open the screen door yawning on its hinges, arm extended and poised to snatch you to safety.
Shepherded now all of us into the basement rec room, huddled on poorly replicated early American furniture – brown and sad. No one speaking and all listening to a crackling transistor radio warning and predicting. And we wait. In darkness. Wind howls like a madman and pummels with rain and hail. The screaming wind in furious assault picks no target but targets all in its path. Candles flick light but mostly shadows that show me the clench of my father’s jaw and the involuntary tap of my mother’s foot. But soon I am lost in the sound of the wind and the green and pink plaid of my peddle pushers. I am lulled into a waking sleep that shrouds me against crazy wind whirling above. And then it is over. We feel it, all of us – and slowly rise from sheltered gloom. The big wind has moved on to other victims, in search of better food. But the rain still tap-tap-taps against the roof to remind us what has been.
How does Christine’s wind blow?
Does Clancy blow caution to the wind?
The days have passed but I am still captive
still trapped in the throes of betrayal –
Still swayed by confusion
Mislead by the gods of my desire
I wanted to be loved and
how fortuitous was our reconnection
You made the sky brighter
and gave the sun sparkle
making the world
so lovely to be in
Why wouldn’t I give up everything
For the joy of you?
And I did
But the nearer we came to
the end of the journey
the beginning of the new life we planned
the more miles grew between us
until life was a tunnel
A frigid subterranean path to nowhere
Your eyes spoke ice
and your mouth, kept prisoners your words
Ones you were too cowardly to say
and I was too fearful to hear
And I lived with my dread
of news days
and vacant hours where silence hung
like shadowed specters armed against breach
Trapped in a world
of ancient trees and total strangers
Nothing to busy hands or mind
And you didn’t help
I was a burden
the poor investment
that you resented
and offered cold shoulder to
And on frequent walks
For secret cigarettes I asked God,
Why does love cut so much?
And I tried and tried but in the end
was utterly defeated by friendly fire
No allies nor weapons to consecrate me
My fairytale dreams died a wailing
silent death and hollowed me
from the inside out until I was empty
And I could be trapped no more
What trap has Christine been caught in?
Can Clancy be freed from her trap?