Notes from the Floor

You know what I have discovered? Don’t laugh
but . . . the joy of the living room floor!
Two weeks back, moving the coffee table aside
left an expanse of freshly-turned blue rug
that beckoned: come be a child on me
and now we (Dog and I) are down here
playing with squish toys (his, not mine,
although truly everything he owns I own).

I have set up a watercoloring station
atop a local newspaper unfolded wide,
filled a plastic cup with water and brushes
and blended together the half-dozen shades
that comprise a New Mexican sky at dusk,
tumbleweeds tiny dots on the horizon
(my whale painting did not fare as well,
spreading into a seafaring Rorschach).

One day I laid on my back and listened
to guided meditations and new age music,
but have also sat with legs V’d outward,
a second mug of hot chocolate at my side,
watching halves of forgettable movies,
with predictable plots and English scenery
not thinking about who I am vs. should be
and if those people are the same (yes).

On my stomach I later read poetry aloud
to a visitor; he stoically crossed his arms
and I am not sure heard the lines about mice
blurted from my lips, nor did he join me
on the floor, nor play on the tree that fell
in the canyon. Wouldn’t anyone? I recall
that weightlessness does not belong to the
burdened. I know. I have lived there, too.

I would like to tell everyone the good idea it is
to go without furniture, how sometimes
matched living room sets (albeit comfortable)
are one of many ways we become slow adults
sliding aimlessly into cushions not unlike how
we assume college degrees, cubicles, crock-pots
and come to believe life is an arrangement
when it is in fact a nonsensical blip on the floor.

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Girls in the Garden

Hands up with the moon
we weave between beds
flat foot to sodden ground
flowers in the dark, hiding
ourselves and the magic
–the witchcraft and illusion–
that encircles youth and
women who heal with
high mountain herbs.
Next door to normalcy but
never living in that house,
your home has long been
the alignment of the stars,
mathematics of dates and time,
the chant of spells, within
a coven that didn’t exist
there in the garden
some twenty years ago
when we raised our hands
as the midnight clock does,
all together, with the moon

(first written in 2012; revised for ColetteKay.com)

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Join Me in the Lake

Heat of summer, forever-long afternoons
of sun bearing down almost violently
have turned the lake into a warm bath.
Dark comes and this is the place to which we drive.

Four of us share this night, now a tepid oven.
Our group walks, laughing, along two edges:
where city park meets lapping water, and
where youth rushes too soon into adulthood.

The sky is black, the distant hills flicker
with neighbors’ white house lights, and
somewhere nearby is the whir of the freeway.
I do not think we can be seen

and so I remove my clothes
and wade in, up to my small naked belly
at which point I turn back to see you
still standing on the shore.

Someday when you are free enough to
revel in a night swim, then I will know,
though I will not at first say it aloud,
that I have seen myself in someone else.

(March 2, 2019)

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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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The 20s: Looking Back

There will be one night when you stay up writing your novel in hopes of creating a best-seller to save you from your 9-5, and there will be one morning where you wake before the alarm and brave Monday with a can-do fierceness that does not question your current career.

There will be dreamy hours spent counting the miles and minutes between cities on digital (possibly fold out) maps, and the same amount of time will be spent in the corner of yours or someone else’s couch with a glass of wine thinking, This is such a great life I have right here.

Sometimes you will miss your long lost loves and other days you will bid them good riddance and laugh at how you could have ever wound up together, and some days you will feel both emotions in the span of morning-to-night. Other days, none of this steps foot into your mind.

On possessing youth: in the beginning of this decade it goes unquestioned, in the middle it is a question unnecessarily asked–you are still young but sense the approach of a certain age–and at the end it is only youth compared to those born before you. None of this is good or bad; your age is what you make of it as much as you can, and the rest is a set of societal norms that you don’t have time to change. Bow down before them; let them roll over your back in the way of diving under an ocean wave, coming up on the other side to find it much calmer the further out you get.

You will know yourself. And then you will change and not know, adapt, set your course, and change again. This is like sailing after moving islands. The winds will do their work on your vessel; keep tight hold of your sails and maneuver to avoid the storms as best you can. Brave the storms you must face. A crew member or two, not usually more than three, is useful in inclement weather.

Stay careful not to label changing your mind and quitting one path to pursue another avenue as “giving up” nor “failure.” Unavoidable failure is not the same as controlled failure if we have done what we can, and keep in mind that our best now is not what our best will be in 1, 5 and 10 years.

To retrospectively judge our younger selves is a disservice (unless you mean to learn from it, but it is important only to dwell long enough to learn and not dwell for the sake of regret). We have been naive and ignorant, but these are not sins we controlled nor will we ever completely master. We do our best with what we know at the time. We share similar mistakes just as we share this human experience, and this is a history that alone and together we can forgive and, more importantly, embrace and celebrate.

(first written August 14, 2014)

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