Woman’s Intuition

They say rain will come tomorrow
but I sense it will arrive overnight,
and before the newly birthed day
looks up to find it has become morning
– during the intimate crevice between
ends and beginnings – I may wake
to the sound of the earth
washing itself in the dark.
This is what my bones say.
I am woman.
I feel what is to come.

And you: will you return?
The child thumping across my chest,
bending my ribs, a streak
of anxious wanting coursing in my arms
says this is not the time to plant,
when the soil still needs turning.
Again, I wake in the motionless hours
and consider the intimate spaces.
I long for them as ground for rain.
I must wash myself of this.
I am woman.
I feel what is to come.

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Early Morning in Maine

How is it we can miss what we never had? Looking out to a northern ocean flecked with islands, the day’s light a brooding one and the sloop’s sails tucked away at rest, I acknowledge it happens but had not found words to make sense of it until now. Some things we know how to say; others we only feel.

Very early on a summer day the sun rose over Belfast, among the quietest of Maine’s coastal towns. Staying alone in a single-room cottage on the shore, not much effort nor time was needed to walk to the water. I only had to roll over – and over – until I’d rolled enough that I was no longer in the bed. Moments and slip-on shoes later, standing at the water’s edge the horizon mirrored still-dim morning light.

No one walked the beach at this hour, other than a man several yards down. He kept to himself atop a boulder, reading a book. I wonder when I spot a fellow solitary human: Are they like me?

Among general populations I don’t believe many are. How many times have I been drawn to these off-the-beaten-path destinations—in which I think other people should also want to spend time—to find I am the only one there? I have lost count.

Sometimes I’ll reach a nowhere-type place and find one or two strangers also present, and can’t help but romanticize the idea that they might be my (long sought after) mirror. Something within them must be the same something within me that brought us both here at the same time? The most rational sliver of my brain registers this as coincidence, yet I continue to agnostically follow magnets that push and pull and lead me to see signs when, in retrospect, there were none.

Don’t we all want to live this way? Isn’t seeing signs the same as having hope, and isn’t hope the most valuable possession of all?

Often, I hold to the idea that someone is out there, like me, standing on an empty shore or the side of a mountain or driving a little nothing of a country road, half stuck inside their memories and half wondering if another human is doing the same thing they are and thinking the same thoughts that they are thinking at that very moment.

If so: I have been missing you, without having had you, all this time.

(first written September 8, 2018)

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Into the Night

Who knows the time?
I need no numbers to tell me
here is another sunset:
the back side of God
turning to watch the waking,
an orange glow evoking
the warmth one feels when
the sun says, you are chosen.

Once, in the light of day
I had driven along the lake
and thought to myself,
isn’t life perfect.

Keepsakes and cards
letter and notes, but
who can read in the dark?
My agnostic soul is praying
for a candle, a flame
a nightlight, anything
to bring back his light.

(first written in 2009)

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Button Daisies

Once I dreamed about a
downhill, quiet country road with
a pickup lazily parked on the side,
flanked by modest houses
and sided by aging fir trees.

One day while walking beyond
the church fields, I came to
such a road and realized
it had not been a dream, but
a partially-there memory
of something real from
many years earlier.

How strange to recognize
places we do not remember.
Places we’ve not thought of for years
suddenly exude history, home.

***

In my mind I picture button daisies
I am very young, picking them
one-by-one
from a sloping patch of grass
wondering how I might intertwine
their stems into a bracelet.

My family is nearby. Was there water?
I think I spy shoreline.
A building to my right is
remembered as a castle, but
given the tricks the mind plays
it was likely not so grandiose
(not a bad thing, to remember
the past as better than it was)

I must ask Mom about this memory
twenty-something years in the past
Where did it take place?
Are the daisies still there?

There are many things to ask, to know
before time runs out.

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Harriett’s Nest

The backyard hummingbirds have been fighting lately and I’ve been sitting under the honeysuckle listening to their mating wars rage on. It’s surprising how maddened animals become as they follow the drive to reproduce.

Among the hummingbirds are an assortment of others who inhabit the nearby trees and sky. In the summer the mockingbird keeps everyone up at inopportune hours of the night, and a flock of out-of-place parakeets circles around the house once or twice a year (perhaps more often, but I do not constantly stand on the front stoop watching for their green wings to come into view). A hawk hunts in the canyon two blocks away; I have seen him resting on the lower railings of the wooden bridge, have been startled as he swooped in front of me mid-day and have photographed him in the branches of the eucalyptus tree.

Doves and pigeons, the common and dull kind but I feel a liking for them anyway, line up on telephone wires year-round. They look most striking with their silhouettes outlined against morning fog, which from my front door that looks out to the bay I can see approaching as early as the night before it rolls in (it is the foggy mornings and sunless marine layer days that most facilitate my writing; at these times I feel closest to myself).

There is an owl that silently haunts the night, who I have seen only twice in three years and who is so without sound, so fleeting, I could have just as easily imagined him. Yesterday a gull drifted above our roof.

There are, finally, many small birds who live here and, in looking enough like each other, are often disregarded given many people’s preference for hawks and herons and greater birds. Often, perching birds (as naturalists call them) are grouped together in our minds as the uncelebrated “birds in the yard” because truly what difference does it make if they are a finch or a nuthatch or a wren? To most of us, like air they are simply there and like breathing they simply happen.

But not Harriett, a small bird of what species I do not know, but in one season of her life (and mine) managed to add to my melancholy and then, after she was gone she unknowingly (because of course, she is a bird) lent me hope.

I will begin by saying that at some point Harriett died, or so I assume because one day she stopped coming back. She had spent several days collecting twigs for her nest which I know because I walked out onto my stoop last year and caught her in the process of it all. I had told this news of a new nesting bird to my family (it was my sister who named her Harriett) and friends who don’t mind such trivial life updates, and for a while we waited for babies.

But Harriett disappeared and babies never came, and at the end of her nesting season I had only that…a nest. An empty house of sticks in the corner of the beams above my door. And not too long after, when the summer garden ended and the lettuce had bolted and become no good and the tomatoes turned brown and barren there suddenly wasn’t much life at all outside my door, and the fall and winter were no better.

Spring came late and quietly this year and I put off gardening and considered skipping it altogether, for what reason I can’t quite say because I certainly had the time, but I recall wondering what is the point as we do to ourselves here and there when melancholy, while beautiful in small doses, grows too big and becomes too heavy to carry. It is hard to move under such weight.

At such points we can actively seek help, or we can let time do what it does: pass and heal. Through that winter I had chosen to lie submissive and dormant while the days moved by me. During those months of long nights, time roughly stitched me back together in places that had come apart. It was not a perfect fix, and by spring it was not enough to inspire a garden, but it was enough to keep going. Sometimes this is all we can ask for. To want to wake up: this alone is worth our quiet gratitude.

Then, hope: I stood at the door this past week and looked up to see tail-feathers sticking out over the edge of the beams. When I moved closer she flew to a nearby tree and watched and waited for me to go so she could return to her adopted nest – the one Harriett left behind, still unused. So it seems that, despite an unusually long and numb winter, we have been given another chance at eggs becoming baby birds and seeds becoming gardens and life beginning again.

(first written April 25, 2018; revised for ColetteKay.com)

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How to Write Better

In the morning do not play music,
there are birds to do this for you.
Wind circles outside the window
and inside the small dog can
be heard breathing, in, out.

Make your bed if you like,
but consider it likely that
stacks of gently used books
will serve as enough decor
if it is a writer’s spirit you have.

The feet and the ground were
made to touch; during walks
stand planted in the grass.
Greet the earth, sliding petals
between thumb and finger

and when it comes time to eat
forgo prepping to spoon the
avocado into your mouth, do
no more than peel the orange.

Go without, give it away,
make room, and then
make more room.

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