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.

Regina

…a time for everything…
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

Spring is the time of the new flower,
springing into bloom;
it is the long-awaited rebirth,
foretold in seasons past.
It is a time of singing,
the voice of the turtledove.
It is a time of resurrection;
it is the season of love.

Summer is the time of self-actualization,
a time of revelation—
of parables on the dunes,
and baptisms in the sea.
It is the time for the branch of the fig tree
to become tender, to put out its leaves—
a time of sweet fruit.
Earth is in the summer, the prime, of her life.

Autumn is the time to prepare for the coming harvest—
a time to build up our stores.
It is a time of change—
a harbinger of the coming sacrifice.
It is a time of full maturity,
yet also a time of decline.
That is why it’s called fall,
for Earth is in the Autumn of her life.

Winter is the time of hope for the coming salvation,
of the passing away, the fulfilling of old things
to bring about the new—higher and everlasting elation.
Earth is in the final stages of her life year,
and is put to death,
a crown of thorns placed on her head,
only to reawaken in spring,
as if from a long winter’s sleep instead.

The Trees of Life: A Poem, and other musings

It has been almost a month since my last posting.  Spending more time with family, enjoying summer, and wading through all the red tape to go back to school has taken up most of June.  I have been hopping from Building 5 to Building 2 to back again for weeks now, and I have yet to make it to the beach.  It is the raining season in Florida.  One year (I don’t remember which, but it’s been within the last three years), it rained every day in July.  I have, however, made use of all my old seashells (pictures to come later).

I have finished my story for the Saturday Evening Post Great American Short Story contest, and I got together with a friend of mine over coffee to help me edit, and hopefully, publish and market “Golden Stars and Silver Linings”, my collection of children’s nursery rhymes (50 in all), complete with a few recreational drug references and double entendres (however unintentional).

Though I don’t consider writing poetry a waste of time (they’re great writing exercises and fun to write, too), poetry for adults just doesn’t sell; though I have several favorite poems by the greats (Robert Frost and Edgar Allan Poe), I never read modern, adult poetry.  I’ll still enter free poetry contests for which there is a cash prize (a pine needle in a hay bale?), but I refuse to pay any more entry fees when it comes to poetry contests.  Poetry isn’t hot (people like stories), and so those venues that publish it have to charge entry fees just to stay in print because they don’t make money off subscriptions.  Harlequin romances sell, and that’s my focus right now (as far as adult novels go).  Poetry might be more fun to write, to do, than to read (like tennis is more fun to play than watch).  I tend to feel about poetry in novels like I feel about paragraphs written in italics:  (obvious) dream sequences bore me as much in novels as they do in movies.

There is one movie, “The Woman in the Window”, with Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett (highly recommended), in which almost the entire movie is a dream, but that’s okay, because we don’t know it till the end.  The fact that it was all a dream was a bit of a letdown.

Though Dorothy’s adventures in Oz also turned out to be all a dream, I prefer to believe she somehow, telepathically, traveled to a parallel universe.

The poem you about to read is based in reality, though creative license was taken.  It was entered into a tree-themed poetry contest.  I never heard back, so I assumed it wasn’t chosen.  I have noticed that many journals that publish poetry specify they don’t care for rhymed poetry, that it reads better, blah, blah, blah.  I believe there is a certain snootiness where rhyming poetry is concerned–it is seen as not edgy or provocative, but trite and childish.  I disagree, as long as the rhyming isn’t forced and is written well.  With this poem, I experimented with rhyming every first and third line, and every second and fourth.  It was a very difficult task, and quite unnecessary; second and fourth would have been sufficient.

However, here it is:

The Trees of Life

Twas under the magnolia tree with its voluptuous, white blooms,
where I read piles of books while drinking sweet tea from a tall glass;
by the light of the pearl moon I read, the honeysuckle releasing its perfume,
my pillow a denim backpack, my bed a lush patch of St. Augustine grass.

Twas under my grandmother’s dying hickory trees,
that I wiled away the lazy summer days in sweet repose,
writing the kinds of stories I loved to read,
the scent of peach pound cake teasing my nose.

Twas under the ancient oak at my parents’ house on Jackson Street,
that my husband-to-be, knelt in the sand on one knee;
*his grandmother’s band of rose gold with a pearl solitaire,
slipped it on my finger–this intricate heirloom of sentimental wear.

Tis every birthday, under the curving colonnade on Twelfth Avenue,
my husband takes me to the Cactus Flower cafe,
classical music playing with the window down partway,
the breeze blowing through my hair those warm, September days.

Tis past rows of swaying palm trees I walk,
flip-flops slapping hot concrete on the way to the boardwalk–
the beauty of the Emerald Coast shimmering in the background,
full of seashells—jewels of the sea–just waiting to be found.

Tis under the Christmas tree,
I lay my baby daughter beside me,
to look up at the twinkling lights–
lights in red, green and white.

Tis amongst the pine trees in the park we watch our children play,
picnicking on our tattered blanket of blue and white squares,
enjoying a Southern smorgasbord of homemade foods artfully arrayed,
whilst a spray of dandelion seeds and yellow butterflies float in midair.

Tis under trees of various species,
we gather ’round the table in our backyard,
enjoying the warmth of the bricks under our feet,
the steaks juicy, the peaches deliciously charred.

And then the day will come and so it will be,
that under the shade of a weeping willow tree,
I will return to the earth in eternal rest,
peace in knowing I have lived my best.

Easter Sunday 2011