Sunday, January 29, 2012

On tiptoes, my city
reaches for the sun
while night fades
up from below.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Small Stone, January 28

Why is it that hitting the SEND button is the only thing that lifts the magical cloak of typo invisibility?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Small Stone, January 27

(If there were snow,
it would fill the gaps
between us)

In this winter that does not feel like winter,
you leave for work before dawn
and I leave for work before dawn
and we come home tired and smelling of rain,
and we leave our muddy shoes
on opposite sides of the door,
and your mud is black city mud
and mine is red country clay.

Oh God,

when did we stop walking
on the same Earth?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Small Stone, January 26

Nonchalant, cool kid that you are,
you lift your hands and sign, "More drink," --

like it is nothing that you have just
produced a two-word request
without the assistance of technology
for the first time.

I flip out --
laughing and squealing and
squeezing you around the shoulders while I
shove the requested drink into your hand,
splashing juice onto the table --

and this time you don't have to sign --
I can see you thinking, "Crazy lady!
What are you shrieking about?
I always ask for a drink
with my baked potato."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Small Stone, January 25

We walk side by side on our path, knowing that it might separate soon into two paths, and one will go up and one will go down. And if this happens, still we will keep sight of each other through the trees as long as we can. And even when the hills have hidden us from each other, we will each know for the longest time how far the other has got, simply by ingrained knowledge of length of stride, speed of step, strength of will.

Small Stone, January 24 (ish)

The only true light is the orange slice of sunset watching at the window, cutting a rectangular prism through arena dust onto the dirt. You laugh and look and leap, cling to mane, gasping and giggling, while you pull yourself aboard. I lean over, breathless with laughter, overcome with being exactly where I should be. I feel, pleasantly, like our 30 years are collective rather than respective.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Small Stone, January 23

The paper says he is survived
by a "devoted friend."

This is like the opposite
of found poetry.

A found-lie, there in print,
on the newstand

Next to where he, brave in the
face of shock and grief

Nonetheless hugs me, and says,
"It's good to see you, hon --"

And it's not hard to see why
his late husband loved him.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Small Stone, January 22

I find religion, for the first time in a while,
closing my eyes and calling quarters
from that place inside me that still knows how.

When I look up, the cat and dog have
settled at my feet, shoulder to shoulder,
gazing up at me with these matching expressions,
like, We've been wondering when you would be back.

Minutes later, we have returned to life as usual:
tennis balls and catnip toys
and Facebook status updates,
but we have reconnected in some small way
with the world and each other and ourselves.

There is something to this.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Small Stone, January 21

My sister can text with inflection. Her words are not flat on paper or screen; I can hear them in her voice, exactly the way she is thinking them all those miles away.

Still. I wish I were on a train like in November, drawing closer, waiting for the station escalator to lift me into sight of the top of her hat, the quirk of smile on her face, the scarf, the jacket, the boots, the hug, the homecoming.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Small Stone, January 20

You, kid, are going to freeze
if you keep refusing to zip your coat.
Your nose is red, but your grin is wide.
You are happy to sit under the branches --

"Zero leaves," you explain, "all gone. Leaves back what time? Spring."

You giggle your way through another chapter
of this book we're reading,
of this life you're writing.

I love that I get to read both.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Small Stone, January 19

One hot mug of oatmeal. Another of coffee, next to the travel mug, also full of coffee. I am armed and ready.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Small Stone, January 18

I gather my reins, like taking control of my life: planning a path, choosing the gait at which I will travel.

Then he, also like life, goes his own way: spooks off the fence, bucks and swishes his tail in annoyance, throws a fit, throws a shoe, breaks a rein and ducks into a spin, slips in a puddle, stops dead and refuses to budge. Sometimes I land easy and sometimes not so easy and sometimes I even manage to stay aboard, gripping long strands of mane in white-knuckled fingers, biting my lip, fighting tears, clinging to balance, clinging to hope, daring gravity to mess with me.

Eventually, I get the reins back. Turn. Plan a path. Choose a gait.

Maybe this time we'll canter easy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Small Stone, January 17

Storm-sky's so stern it could hang above any of our settings -- the trailer, the cottage, the farmhouse, the balcony -- all the places we've written our story. How do we stop ourselves from turning the page? I want a bookmark, I want to pay the fines and beg for a renewal, I want to hold my thumb in place and reread my favorite passage. I want to lose myself in a run-on sentence and never reach the punctuation. I am dodging question marks. I am clinging to quotations.

(I'm also at Smack Dab in the Middle today.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Small Stone, January 16

I always forget, until that first moment when I settle into the saddle -- gathering my reins, picking up my stirrups, straightening my shoulders as if there has never been any weight on them -- how good it will feel to be back home.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Small Stone, January 15

Garlic breadsticks, 99 cents. Chips, a buck fifty. The second can of chicken noodle soup, a dollar. Flat of water, four ninety-nine. The cashier pops her gum and scans backwards, and while we skim the cream off the groceries, I think of cold metal pails on summer days, not sure whether I'm remembering or dreaming.

Small Stone, January 14 (ish)

Magnum walks different in his red blanket, like a kid with new shoes, stepping extra high to say, "Look at me!" Of course I do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Small Stone, January 13

I was hoping for fluffy, Frosty the Snowman flakes, but what we've got is ice-powder, painted down between the bricks with a fierce wind-brush. Yesterday's puddles are today's miniature ice rinks for the few leaves and twigs that haven't already frozen to the sidewalk. In a single blast of wind, I feel the coffee cup in my hand go cold. I think of horses on mornings like this, of the warm spot between neck and mane, of the ice that clings to the sides of the bucket after I've chopped down through the middle, and the first thirsty sound the horses make when they drink what I've dug out for them. Last night I dreamt of a tack shop, of a floor to ceiling display of halters and gleaming leather bridles. Then you came and opened the door. You led me away.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Small Stones, January 12

I stroll through settings, breathe in backstory, long for lost characters. There is hardly a step of this city that hasn't been written.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Small Stone, January 11

I resolve to live in the moment. And then I laugh at myself, because, resolutions are concerned with future, not now. Now, in this moment, there is a cold metal gate latch, and a sherbert-colored sky, and this horse who likes me to scratch behind his left ear. Now is cold fingers and cold toes and a cold nose and a warm horse and a warm heart. Now is good.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Small Stone, January 10

The outlines of stores and churches
that have stayed the same shape
for at least the last eleven years
are muted this morning by fog,
like paint with too much water,
Grayed to look kind of like memory.

Headlights, brilliant bright,
slice the veil,
Catch reflective stripes and
bring the road to the surface,
So much easier to see than
all the things that are standing still.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Small Stone, January 9

You finger tap in rhythm with the pulse in my temple,
And your hum is the exact frequency of my migraine.
Child, do you really want to get rid of me?
At least you’ve got this teacher figured out
Down to the last Hot Tamale hiding place.
When I’m half a knot up from the end of my rope,
You catch my gaze and place your finger to your lips,
Then rest quiet hands on the table,
eyes sparkling even as you feign innocence.
I smile and climb back to the top of my rope.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Small Stone, January 8

January, more on top of things than I am, has repaired its air conditioning. Guess I should call the landlord, let him know he needs to fix the heat, but at the moment I'm content with hot coffee, thick socks, and a warm dog.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Small Stone, January 7

Today I walked to the gas station wearing track pants, and flats with no socks, and it was too warm even for my sweatshirt, and the flashing sign at the Catholic school said 61 degrees. So why can't I get my head out of winter four years ago, when I couldn't get warm, even with those little heat packs that go in your gloves? When the gate latches froze and the skid steer wouldn't start and the coyote calls got closer to the big warm barn? When I cracked ice on water buckets for horses whose big breath took up my vision so I couldn't see you anywhere?

The door just closed. I get it now. The theme is freeze.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Small Stone, January 6

Every time I crack my knuckles, hunker down into my chair, and get ready to type my small stone for the day, something interrupts me. It's almost as if I

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Small Stone, January 5

I wish I could write like this kid:
in five kinds of ink, and backwards in the notebook,
scratching out those silly sixth-grade thoughts
and writing in seventh-grade wisdom.

A line at a time, I would revise myself
into the story of my choosing,
with page after page of promise
and a pen still mostly full of ink.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Small Stone, January 4

This song is:
Rosman Highway in 2007, yellow-paint line, sun burning mist off the mountains, horse waiting in the pasture, friendly crowds of unfamiliar faces, and, through a blanket of grief, a swell of hope.

This song is not:
Medicine, a time machine, the road from there to here, or an answer to the question I can't stop asking.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Small Stone - January 3

Flake-swirls skate across roof tiles,
Fling figures into empty air.
Baby-flakes drift against chimneys,
Skate mini-steps clinging to brick,
Think someday ...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Small Stone - January 2

Frost air bites through fleece,
denim, and twenty-five years.
I am five, on the steps,
looking at my breath.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A River of Stones

1/1/12: Not quite the red plaid blanket I lay on as a kid in the campground. But close.