Before Lines Were Drawn

Before these lines were drawn
and rules laid in stone
we ran free upon the streets
without divides in sight or mind
and if I recall correctly
every afternoon was bathed in sun
and evenings veiled in magic
and as a child it did not rain
unless we wanted rain to come

Houses set up into trees
as separate planets far in space
Stories that you gave to me
when gathered where road meets road
what was once a place to stand
is now a place in time, moving
further back, harder to get to
with every box packed and
every moment bubble-wrapped
for another time: later

Tonight, I walk along our street
old faces still young in my mind
I no longer recognize the cars
being driven around by people
who I also do not recognize.
I look for things that are not there.
I cannot find them anywhere.

(Written appx 2014 about my childhood neighborhood which my family finally moved from this year in 2019; edited slightly for ColetteKay.com)

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Weeks or Months

How long will it be?
We have been watching the moon
which waxes and wanes and
renews itself and brings,
usually, decent fortune

How long will it be?
We have boarded the plane
taken seats by the window
settled in for a movie
hours/world away

How long now?
I read the journal back to front,
an order that makes sense
to a brain most intent
on knowing endings

How long now?
Until life has changed enough that
the current era is only be seen by
standing at the window,
looking through a glass

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The Community Garden

It is not what you expect to find
after trekking uphill five blocks
in the Japanese District after a
hot day in the city. It smells like
compost tumbling over itself
here on the side of the hill,
is strewn together good enough
with spare wood, multi-multi-use
buckets and laminated signs
some person with a printer
tacked to tree trunks to guide
visitors toward an exit; yes,
wabi-sabi enough to get lost.
It is how we ran our land when
I was young, making do with
parts of things and scraps and
pieces of other things. I forget
the city outside. Chicken coop
signs (please do not feed us rice),
sunflowers grown beyond a
hand’s span whose peach fuzz
necks bow to watch weeds sustain
this morsel of wild in the city,
now I barefoot along stone steps,
toe my way down the other side,
find a sitting-rock in the orchard
and do that a while among this
stench of four-days-fallen apples
and flies on a summer afternoon
and when I am done scribbling
memories search for more to do,
for more to think about, perhaps
another reason to stay put.

(August 27, 2019)

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Returning Home

I haven’t seen you with your hair down
parted middle, pulled behind your ears
in a while – you’ve been away and the
roof is crumbling and a decade is gone.

See how the grass has grown up wildly
and now we have to lift our legs high
to carefully meander through; thank you
for never complaining about dandelions.

Have you opened your upstairs closet?
You’ll want to fasten a ponytail for this:
when you left were you running toward
or away and is that why you rarely wrote?

Home again. Our front window is broken.
This is and isn’t the right time to review a
former life and old limbs trimmed so you
could flourish year-round away from me.

For thirty years I watched you, held you.
There is no surprise within my pine walls
to see you grown, waving new branches,
but you did return, if only to say goodbye.

(August 18, 2019)


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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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