Notes in a Drawer

Some sweep errors of the past under rugs;
I am a corner-of-the-bottom-drawer girl.

Some months ago, maybe five, maybe six,
it became time to no longer bear the weight

that no one means to haul around for so long,
but the mind somehow revels in punishment.

In the hallway, bending to the lowest drawer
where for more than a year hid folded papers

I looked them over once, knew it was done;
had known earlier on but would not admit it.

Where they are now is lost and gone; notes
last seen upon letting down the lid of the bin

no longer hold séance in my home, nor conjur
old mistakes back to life. Forward, now, finally.

(February 22, 2019)

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Prayer for Spring

Three days in and your gifts,
tangible and not, have blossomed.
The earliest yellow buds peek out,
the snap peas climb and cling wildly.

Sun, we undo months of curtains
to let in your buttermilk warmth.
As your stay increases each day
so will I turn my face to the light.

Digging my fingers into potting soil,
my emerging naked feet on the grass,
the heart is ripe and swelling for you:
newly arrived season of growth, of hope.

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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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Open Road Therapy

In the book Roads by Larry McMurtry (author of Lonesome Dove), he writes:

“Being alone in the car is to be protected for a time from the pressures of day-to-day life; it’s like being in one’s own time machine, in which the mind can rove ahead to the future or scan the past.”

While this quote might best apply to road-trippers, I also find McMurtry’s sentiment to apply to everyday driving – to and from work, to the grocery and so on. There is something therapeutic about the way being alone in a car temporarily turns off the socially-constructed spotlight we constantly perform in. We become fleetingly able to experience our own internal dialogue, our own humanity, without interruption. I would even guess that most of us are more similar to each other during these moments of aloneness than we are when we’re back in the spotlight.

Five years back, during 52 almost-consecutive days on the road, I split my time evenly between the deserts and forests of the American West and British Columbia. Enough time in either environment can cause the mind to wander, and I wonder about the contemplative thoughts such empty stretches of road have incubated for others? I find answers, often questions, occasional forgiveness and by the end of the day a tiredness that folds me into bed and allows me to give in to life as it is, and to myself as I am. After a day of driving the mind does not ask why nor how nor am I enough. It evaluates when energy exists to be burned.

(first written July 6, 2015; revised for ColetteKay.com)

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The Noiseless Spring

Atop the wooden bridge to the path below,
an observation on a gray day during
this final month of winter:

The sloping canyon takes sanctuary under new grass
dewy at mid-morning when I’d first left the house.
This time yearly each blade reaches tall as it will,
and what now? Summer is not yet here to dry us.
Do the fields know what they wait for?

On the hillsides deeply pigmented, circular leaves
posing as lily pads out of water, herded together
under dozing afternoon’s dull-white sky are waiting
until a time hundreds will bloom orange, red, alive.
I whisper to the nasturtiums, “not yet”

knowing once they are born, days are
limited. They will again lie dormant,
receding to safety of roots by summer,
hermetic the months between rains.
I mourn each loss of flowers, but

until these moments come to pass
it is this earliest promise of aliveness,
canyons that sit still as morning,
the noiseless coming of spring
that I love most of all.

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Air Being Sustenance

If an airplane carrying
one-hundred people
can fly on fumes
(I read this somewhere?)
and the desert
supports plants
that grow often on air alone
(although a bit of water is
needed from time to time)
Then I
– the one me here –
maybe I, too
can endure on the hope
that passes
breath to breath

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First Photographs

There is no need to
remember anything, except
the way I looked at you in
the beginning;
overlapping palm fronds
were enough to call you
a jungle, or so it once felt,
as I’d not seen them before;
and the way water and opportunity
presented as plentiful, what with
coastline drawing near,
turning its edges over and under
its blue figure fused, somehow
and so many years still ready to
enter annually, bittersweetly
waving me in, saying
‘that one is gone, but
there will still be time.’

Time for travel
Time for adoration of each other
Time for two cups of tea before
the sun bleaches morning,
stripping what I have always viewed as
dawn’s quiet holiness from the air,
achieving this by way of my one
south-facing kitchen window.
Then it becomes time to face the day.

Later–not today–it will come time to ask
of adventures and lovers
‘is it all in the past?’
When the trees begin to look
more brittle, more browned
than once they appeared;
when ocean moves so repetitiously
we hardly notice what a gift
it is to see
and subtly
be pulled by the tides.
We will know the answer to this–
‘is it all in the past?’
–only at an end that does not
in so many cases
announce itself.
Best to believe, until that time, no.
Best to see signs even if
signs do not exist;
even if hope is only written
on the spine of a book,
tempting searching hands
to pull it from the shelf and
consider its contents potentially pleasurable,
possibly vivid
like the ocean has been,
whether I say so or not,
so long as it is still tumbling

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