crow or raven
some everyday bird
the kind with
a startling loud call
if he wanted to
which he didn’t want today
Instead, soft craaawh
A purr in the air
Author Archives: Paula
This past July, I had the pleasure of studying creative writing for a week with the awesome Heather Sellers. One of a boatload of ideas she shared was modeled on The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, a 10th-century book of observations by a lady-in-waiting to the Japanese empress. The book is a great read, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitingly critical, always entertaining. And the list-making is habit forming. Go ahead, you try it too! Here’s one I keep adding to:
Reasons We Are Friends
1. The time you broke your toe in the fancy pedicure salon
2. Such long history
3. We can listen without laughing, and nod encouragingly, as one of us describes our latest exercise or weight loss or weight acceptance strategy.
4. Because when I described the package, you looked confused too—Why would there be a glue tray in the bottom of a no-kill mouse trap? How, you asked, would somebody ever get the mouse’s little feet unstuck?
5. Kayaking, mangroves
6. Because we’ve all seen naked yearning and envy on each other’s faces, wishing for something one of us, each of us, has—financial security, oceans of personal freedom, actual oceans outside our door, a beautiful garden, a fantastic vacation, a creative talent, robust health, successful children, happy children, or the Jackpot—happy, successful children.
And when we see that yearning in each other’s eyes, we do not pretend. And we do not apologize for our luck and our gifts. We hug each other, offer a cookie or a cocktail, and continue our decades-long conversation.
high in the maple
bare limbs cradle a bird’s nest
small bowl of fresh snow
if you’re still near enough
to hear —
my old friend wrote to say
she dreamed of you
before you died—and in the
dream you moved from pain
to the ocean, a banquet in a room
full of people enjoying, enjoying.
The room, all windows
sheer curtains moving in a breeze
and all the windows facing the sea
Was it you?
Was it true?
Did the ocean reach for you?
And was the feast everything
you would dream if you were
still here to dream it?
How old am I? Old enough
to discover there are no permanent fixes,
no single moment we can call ourselves
Complete. We are held together
with patches and duct tape.
The tape has softened to silk
frayed along its edges, unsticky
where it’s picked up lint along the way.
Let’s pray it holds as we move into deep water.
And if it doesn’t?
A leak, a break in the line that
sews us together,
that sows a line of seeds—
tears and trials and travels
laughter and crowds, books and the quiet
Oh the waves of experience and emotion
the moments we move through, they
roll in and out like tides and storms at sea.
Who are we that these tides recede to?
Who are we that these storms become when calmed?
What ocean are we?
the apartment was an
So I took it.
that the apartment
would take it from there.
boxes of books and bowls,
green trash bags
stuffed with clothes, pillows,
raggedy towels, old fleece
would unpack themselves
fold and stack their own shapes
into cupboards and shelves
While I read a book or took a nap
breathing deep the luxurious
Another weekend at the lake
ends. Laden with leftovers or hangovers,
packed up, sleep deprived,
we launch a return to the daily.
Daily looks dusty and quiet and less—
less frenetic, less enormous
less thick with the weight of lists
Remember the moon Saturday night
so huge and orange on the ground
we didn’t even recognize her?
Now the quiet is softer
the weight and beauty of our burdens rising
from laughter and talk, from listening and
listening and being listened to