Sylvia

You and your cocker spaniel
and when Erin passed, the spaniel
that you owned after her.

The dam and her filly who,
as a young girl, I would clap beside
the fence to see her run.

Once your husband passed
and you could no longer care for
the horses, you kept goats.

Two maybe three years ago
I was home and walked over and
found you remembered me.

Everything around you had gone
to the ground, except the plants
springing up from your yard.

As I grew into a woman you became
just Sylvia, living in the last home
on acreage in the neighborhood.

I sent a Winnie-the-Pooh card
the Christmas after I’d seen you.
No reply was received.

Then I dreamed of you. It happens
in my family when time closes; I will
check when I return home again.

(August 4, 2019)

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Praying to Ancestors

Thinking the Dead have the answers
– that if we could speak to them
they would give us the knowledge
we have not yet acquired in living –
I pray to a formerly flawed human
who I long thought of as a saint,
asking for guidance, asking for help,
forgiveness and wants of the living.
I summon my ancestors, my father,
men I once loved who left too soon
when all I had needed was to ask
myself the admittedly trite cliché:
what would you do if it were you?
What path becomes best if breaths
become numbered? Well they are.
Here is the funny thing: the dead
and the alive, as it turns out, we
tend to share the same answer.

(written in 2018; edited for ColetteKay.com)

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Landmania

At the feet of mountains, meadows and shores I turn from busy-minded woman to awed servant of our earth. I breathe the pines smelling like childhood camping and hold to mind valleys cradling cloud shadows in the afternoon, once in Montana and another time in New Mexico. 

I know now: that the still of a mountain lake arrives twice daily, at each end of the light; the embrace of everyday grass under bare feet; the change in the air that signals an ocean is a few miles out of sight; a love affair that, next to humans loving one another deeply and intimately (the only way worth doing it), most makes apparent life’s worth.

Love and land. Currency of choice, given the choice.

A stretch of road once led (still does) through northern New Mexico toward Colorado. Such flat, open ground is good for the mind. It doesn’t change at every turn; it doesn’t make you work to maneuver through it or ask much of you but to hold reasonable speed, if you like, and keep one eye out for the pronghorn.

If arriving somewhere new at night, then you are not yet there. The exploration begins in the morning, when the sun rises to reveal the surroundings. The evening before was merely counting a series of freeway exits, unpacking the car and falling into the bed or chair or arms of wherever your inner compass has taken you.

“I began to feel I loved the land and to know that I would never forget it. There I would go for long walks alone. It was alive, I was sure of it. I wanted to identify myself with it, to lose myself in it.” – Jean Rhys

(written in 2014; edited for ColetteKay.com)

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Red Nails

Painted this morning, I
began to wonder

whose back can I scratch
and when I do

will this aid my quest to
take the world

and turn it into a place
I, too, can own?

Create for me such a role;
I will hold the

pen between my fingers and
sign my name!

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