Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lost horse in spring

My fingertips trace the soft concave velvet of the side of a dying horse's nose. In twilight, the awkward, well-meaning vet blends sympathy with science, explanations of angle and force and bone density that soften to "I'm sorry" and painful quiet. The horse's owner, quivering with grief and strength, will not cry until later, but I let my own tears mark the passing as the pink vial empties.

The vet checks breaths as they still, heartbeats as they cease. Legs move, then stop. In the darkness, our faces are kept secret as we wait.

"Corneal reflex is the last thing to go," the vet says after a while, which explains why, after death, the little horse watches us mourn him.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

You need to read this.

I've been too full of rage -- too gut-deep, shaky-hands, nausea-inducing ticked -- to blog coherently about the WV chemical spill that left all or part of nine West Virginia counties without useable tap water for drinking, bathing, or laundry and closed a huge portion of area businesses, causing devastating lost hours and wages for many.

I am not coherent on this subject. Here is an article from someone who is:

"To hell with every greedhead operator who flocked here throughout history because you wanted what we had, but wanted us to go underground and get it for you. To hell with you for offering above-average wages in a place filled with workers who'd never had a decent shot at employment or education, and then treating the people you found here like just another material resource -- suitable for exploiting and using up, and discarding when they'd outlived their usefulness."

Please read this article. Eric Waggoner found the words for what I'm still too furious to say.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First day of the rest

For seventy-five dollars (twelve and a half percent of what I paid),
I leave my dress with a younger bride and drive away.
Ascending the hill, I wait for the sadness. At the crest, it catches up.
But with it comes the sight of this open road ahead,
unexpected December sunshine,
blue sky and white clouds all the way to the horizon.
I am wearing barn jeans and a comfy sweater.
The steering wheel feels good in my hands.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013


It is an hour and a half past lunch
when I realize that I didn't steal food.

It isn't the unplundered buffet table
that draws tears near,
nor the empty pockets in my backpack
that could easily have harbored bread
and those little packets of mayonnaise
that would have hardly taken up any space at all,
that would have been easy for kind others
to pretend they didn't see.

It is the hour and a half, the unscrutinized assumption
that there will always be more food,
that opportunities can be ignored,
that pockets can be empty for no better reason
than a lack of attention and a busy schedule.

It is the ninety minutes I spent ignorant
of everything I've ever learned the hard way.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mind your Bus-ness, Part II

More bus letters. I wish these were fake.

Dear Bus Driver,

That stop sign jumped out from nowhere, did it? Tricksey, those stop signs.

Could you hand me my stomach? I think it's on the floor under the fare box.

Dear Incessantly Whistling Guy on the Bus,

I'm glad you're happy.

I'm glad that taking the 7 a.m. to Milton, with its chronic overcrowding and its unusual odor this morning that I'm trying not to examine too closely, makes you happy. I'm glad that crowding elbow-to-elbow with strangers on a bus that navigates Route 60 like a raft on rapids fills you with cheer.

You know what fills ME with cheer?

Peace and quiet on the freakin' SEVEN A.M. TO MILTON.

Dear Bus Driver,

You are now the hero not only of myself, but of the ten horses you rescued from a late breakfast. Thank you for recognizing the distant bobbing of a 32-ounce John Deere coffee mug in your rearview mirror as what it was: a cry for help. Less heroic drivers have told me that stopping in the middle of the block is forbidden, so I appreciate you making the exception. And I appreciate that when I arrived on your bus, gasping for breath, hair askew, holding my too-loose jeans up with the hand not already gripping, essentially, a full-sized coffee pot, you only smiled mildly and waved off my thanks.

I know you've seen worse. I've written many of them letters.

Still, I'm sorry you had to see that.

Dear Transit Authority,

Sending one of your smaller buses on the Number 2 route between the hours of 8 and 3 on a rainy weekday is like setting up a game of Tetris, if Tetris pieces had sharp elbows and carried wet umbrellas, and if, when a line filled up, instead of disappearing, it just sat there, squirming and glaring, smelling of value brand deodorant and cigarette smoke.

Please send a larger game board.


Dear Guy on the Bus,

You are pretty sure you look tough, watching us from under your beanie, silently mouthing along with whatever badass music is playing on that iPod.

Dude. We can hear your music. We know it's Pink.

I love you,

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bus Chronicles, Part I

I used to ride the city bus a lot.

It was kinda scary. And somewhat amusing. But mostly scary. To keep myself amused and distracted during my forays into the colorful world of public transportation in a small West Virginia city, I wrote letters to my fellow passengers and to the drivers whose mercy we were riding on. Here are a few of those:

Dear Bus Driver,

You missed your calling. The way you welcome us aboard and inform us of our route and eventual destination, I half expect you to recite our cruising altitude and share with us the local time and temperature at the Eastern Heights Save-a-Lot.

But just so you know, we're not actually supposed to go airborne.

Bring us in for a safe landing, buddy.

Dear Bus Driver,

When you ask the passengers for directions, my heart sinks a little.

When you bypass a stopped police car by going the wrong way on a one-way street, my heart sinks a little more. Guess the helpful passenger who supplied detour directions forgot that little detail.

I swear, some days getting to work is like playing Grand Theft Auto: City Bus Edition.

Miraculously Still on Time for Work,
Dear Lady in the Next Bathroom Stall at the Bus Station,

Well, that was the most unnecessarily specific answer I have ever heard anybody give when someone on the phone asks, "What are you up to?"

Could have just said, "Not much." Although apparently that would have been a lie.

Best of luck,

Dear Creepy Guy at the Bus Stop,

Let me help you by providing you with a "Does the Nice Lady at the Bus Stop Want to Talk to You" checklist.

Is the nice lady at the bus stop me?  YES ___  NO ___

If you checked "yes," then she doesn't want to talk to you.


Dear Dad on the Bus,

You are awesome. Kid struggles to ring the stop bell, you give it a stealthy tug. Kid reaches blindly for his hood, out of sight behind his neck, you lift it secretly into his reach. Kid fights to drag half his body weight worth of bookbag down the bus steps, you sneak a finger under the strap to make it lighter. That kid can do anything, thanks to you.

 More to come ...