Eyes Wide Open

I pass the mirror without even looking,
for I know I haven’t changed:
black hair, blue eyes,
both a little grayer, I am sure.
I need not see to know who I am.

I find my way to the kitchen,
where everything is just so-so.
I cannot function if it is not.
Those that believe I am OCD,
do not know me.
My house is orderly,
so that my life may be,
for I am not The Finder of Lost Things;
after all, I lost my sense.

Night is nigh,
but I fear it not.
The dark is familiar to me,
like a friend almost.
They say one picture is worth 1000 words—
but words paint a picture for me.

I hear rain patter my roof;
I press my hand to the glass
and feel the raindrops,
leaving a trail like a snail,
or is it my imagination?
Do memories fill in the blanks
of what I no longer know?
Have my senses become in sync
with the synchrony and cacophony of Nature?

I walk outside and stand on my porch,
feeling the thunder rumble in my core,
tasting the chemicals in the rain,
smelling the honeysuckle from Mrs. O’Brien’s porch plot.
I’ve known her for twenty years,
and she hasn’t changed—
at least to me.
Everything is as wonderful as I remember it.

I feel the mist freckle my warm cheeks,
the smell of burnt fudge lingers in the air,
pregnant with that pause before the storm;
Katie Gray is cooking again—
I can almost taste the charred chocolate.
Just a step from the air-conditioned house,
to the sauna outside,
is like a sensory overload.
Simple things have become magnified.

I slip off my flip-flops—
a funny word that is,
like bellybutton and elbow.
The soft rain on the rough concrete
is an interesting juxtaposition,
for one is unyielding,
the other is not.

I hear the wooden windchimes next door,
clanging like the sound of someone clucking their tongue.
The thunder is like horses in Heaven having a race,
the lighting like chariots of fire,
like feathers brushing across my face.
The rain is like the sprinklers that go off next door,
or Missy Hanley’s dog shaking himself off after a bath.
The whole of Summer,
encapsulated in droplets.

I bend to my roses,
to nuzzle my nose in their centers,
rubbing their petals between my fingers,
petals that are like the skin of a gracefully-aging woman.
The dirt beneath is like cake crumbs.
I touch my face,
not realizing I am dirtying it,
and in my own mind,
I have never aged.
I saw myself once for the last time,
a long time ago,
and, like Marilyn Monroe,
I am forever young in my own mind,
if not the eyes of others.

A part of me died after that last time I saw myself,
and a new Tabitha Fenmore was born—
I no longer saw things as they really were,
but I heard, it seemed,
for the very first time.

I now hear the light—
a twinkle in someone’s voice,
sincerity,
joy,
pain…

The light is something I feel—
the warm sunshine,
my husband’s hands,
whose scars I cannot see,
the tongue of Mr. Baker’s dog on my hand.

The light is something I taste—
a warm peach in summertime,
a frosted glass of lemonade,
the ice tinkling the sides like a windchime.

The light is something I smell—
a new baby after a bath,
mint leaves that have been chopped finely,
and fresh cut grass after a rain.

The light is something I touch—
cotton and see-through lace,
fresh sketch paper from the art store,
and the gold of my wedding band.

It is when sleep comes that see I periwinkle—
the color that divides day from night,
the color of lavender and blue,
the color of twilight.
I am told that my art is extraordinary;
I use scented paints to tell the red from the blue,
the intensity of the scent a way to tell dark from light.

The silver lining of this cloud of blindness,
this velvet darkness,
is that I never will see ugliness.
Because of that,
I can live without fear:
Eyes.
Wide.
Open.

Mr. Wonderful Full of Himself, Wordsmith Stars, and Perfect Sense

I happened to catch an article (wish I had kept the link) that suggested a book doesn’t sell as well if it won an award.  My theory is that when people see a book won a prestigious award, they assume it’s boring (or overrated, like some classics).  Most people don’t like highbrow stuff.  They don’t want to think, they want to be entertained.  At least one out of every ten books I read is for pleasure, though I am challenging myself to read at least one nonfiction book a month (which I am 99% sure will be about writing, though the last nonfiction book I read was a biography of Marilyn Monroe, which read like creative nonfiction).  As you can see, I am not an egghead, nor will I ever pretend to be, but I am educated and do believe in lifelong learning, whether it be taking a class (I am hoping English composition will be one of the first classes I have to take when I go back to school) or teaching ourselves something new (I am getting ready to make my first batch of handmade soap).

Though an award would be an honor, I’d prefer to have the sales (unless the award came with a big payout).  I’m like Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary) from “Shark Tank” in that way, though only in that way.  I will forever care about the quality of the writing that will be published under my name, whether I write for Harlequin Romance or a scholarly journal.

I’ve been on a “Little Women” kick lately.  I tried watching the 1933 version, but I just can’t stand Katharine Hepburn, so after about fifteen minutes, I had to pass on it.  I’ve always liked the 1949 version, even though I’ve never been a fan of June Allyson, who plays Jo, and then I watched the 1994 version with Winona Ryder, who made a less annoying Jo.  Her spouting “Christopher Columbus” all the time in the earlier versions was annoying, and seemed put-on to make her more of a tomboy (though I realize this was probably how she was portrayed in the book which I read a VERY long time ago).  Though the cinematography was far more realistic in ’94 version, I still prefer the ’49 movie.  The ’94 version just didn’t have the charm its predecessor did.

I like “Little Women” because the protagonist is a writer, but I relate to her because she is a female writer.  However, one of my favorite films of all time is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”.  I fell in love with it as a little girl; Francie Nolan was just like me.  She had what her teacher called imagination.  My third grade teacher, Ms. Cahoon, was the first person outside my family who recognized my talent, and will be one of the first people who will receive a copy of my book.  Every morning, we had to write in our journals, and I would always write about my summers up in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, when I stayed with my grandparents.  My aunt, uncle and cousins lived right next door to them.

I wrote about what I knew and loved.  I still do that today.  Oh, I’ve fancied myself writing some nonfiction piece about a subject I know nothing about (writing creative nonfiction is a great way to learn something new through research), but personal essays are one of my favorite mediums to write in because it is a story no one else can write.

That teacher scene with Francie after class still brings a tear to my eye.

Now though I am not a fan of Stephen King’s books (or even most of his movies), I did enjoy his novel, “On Writing”, and I like his personal story of how he got where he is today.  It is very inspirational.  I’ve noticed he likes to make authors his main characters, as in “Secret Window”, “Misery”, and “The Shining”.  (I liked those.)

Cuba Gooding Jr. played a struggling writer in “A Murder of Crows”.  I don’t think it was a hit, but it drew me in like a Lisa Jackson novel.

While I’m on the subject of movies, there is one that I believe everyone must see for the experience, if nothing else, and that is “Perfect Sense” with Eva Green and Ewan MacGregor.  It’s like poetry on celluloid.  I will say nothing more.