Between seasons

Late November holds tight to autumn;
canal pathways filled with people
carnival-bright beneath blue skies,
heavy, fruited branches splashed crimson –
bright on black branches.
Bridges and sky and people still reflect
in mirror-smooth canal water
(no ice)
and the sun, still gold
on golden wind-twirled leaves;
not yet the white-bright sun of winter.

But sunset comes early
sets downtown buildings aflame
and darkness coats more
and more hours of the day.
Autumn will release its hold;
Winter comes on apace.


Thoughts from the trenches

The left cuff of my trench coat is fraying. Thin, beige tendrils dangle at my wrist, at odds with the rest of my clothes, with my attempt at an otherwise polished appearance.

In one of the pockets there are two abandoned tickets – leftovers from an event, now forgotten, that I took my son to recently. I think they were food tickets. I have already worn them smooth by rubbing them absentmindedly, by throwing keys and sunglasses and gloves in on top of them.

The coat is a classic trench: beige, belted, double breasted with wide lapels. It has been a reliable staple in my wardrobe since 2004. At first glance, it looks neat and proper and it mostly does a good job of repelling the rain.

If you take a second look, though, the fraying cuff and other more subtle signs of wear begin to stand out. They symbolize all that is going on in my life and my days. I’m struggling to keep it all together, and I seem to be, unless you really pay attention.

There are things I need to take care of, errands to run, events and activities to get my son to, but then there is work, where I have mountains and mountains of things to do, enough for more than me but with only me to do them. I just manage to pull most of it off, to get done what needs to be done so that it appears I’m holding it all together, but I’m not doing my best and there are always a few things I gloss over.

I pull myself together – just – each morning so that when I stumble out the door (late) I mostly look professional. I get to work earlier than most and get a lot done while I’m there, so it’s all passable, if panicked.  In the evenings, especially my son’s soccer evenings, I throw myself back through the door again and into whipping up dinner. We generally manage to make it to soccer on time and then I spend the time I should be writing or running covering my tracks, cleaning up, getting groceries, doing the dishes, making lunches. Sometimes I get a run in, somewhere, sometimes I pause to write.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s good enough – all of it, the coat and my just barely holding on. It all appears fine. Everything seems ok. I may be unravelling just a bit, and my coat definitely is, but I still give the appearance of being organized, of getting it all done, of being polished.

It’ll do for now.

Just maybe don’t look too closely.

Silence in dreams

I don’t remember what point it was in the dream that you called, just that from early on, I was holding the phone and you were on the other end, silent. Silent with a silence so pregnant I could feel you thinking, could feel the force of your thoughts ballooning out toward me, but I was trying not to guess them, trying not to second-guess you. I was trying to wait for you to tell me, to be honest and share with me the full scale of what you were thinking.

All through the dream, all the while we were silently on the phone – not talking – I was standing in a park full of children. It was cold, November maybe, and the sand in the park playground was frozen, a solid tawny mound. The sun shone now and then, and a wind blew, while children screamed and ran back and forth. The opposite to our silence. My mother was there, and my son, too.

While my mother watched my face – I could feel her searching for the same answers I was, the answers only you could give – my son and the other children ran back and forth, oblivious, carefree. It was the way I longed to be.

There was no closure to the dream, though I didn’t wake up. The dream simply faded, in an end-scene way, with you still silent, always just about to speak, and me waiting, my hand cold by then, cramped around the phone. There was no answer, no resolution to questions I hadn’t even spoken, simply a fading to black.

And I don’t even know who you are.


Grounded, I lay
listening softly
no whispers to escape
my lips, no breath
to meet the rest.


No wish to touch
another’s soul,
no ripples to send out
or back again to meet.


Grounded, I lay
and all around
sounded the rhythm
the meter and rhyme
of the everyday.