What’s Beautiful Here

What’s beautiful here is a house whose furniture belongs in a house of old, old things and old, old people. Broken or nearly-so. Fragile fabrics, like thin skin, bruising at every brush of a knuckle or seemingly kind word.

What’s beautiful here, where everything seems to be lightly stitched and held by twines and tufts of cat hair and dust.

What’s beautiful here. This is not a question. Because the answer is obvious, however much we like to hide it behind table cloth curtains and a ceiling of curses that fall on us with a laugh.

What’s beautiful here is … here.

Here where we gather. Here where we hurt full-throatedly and heal incrementally.

Here where we hang our art and tend to forget it until that day each quarter or so, when we take the dusting wand and swipe it lightly over the tops of frames and stop, if only briefly, to say “ah, I remember you.” Here where we relive the day we picked it out together and said “I do” all over again. I do love this. I do love you.

Here is what’s beautiful so we remember. As we look about, beyond the shoes and the books and the dishes that stack up on side tables and couter tops. Here is what’s beautiful.

What’s beautiful here is you. The you beyond your skin and hair and pants growing too saggy in your bottom even as mine grow tighter around my belly.

What’s beautiful here is your steadfastness, your loyalty, and your strength. Many men can benchpress the weight of me, but you, you carry me even when I am nothing but dead weight as you usher me forward, even while I draw you down and back.

What’s beautiful here, where the carpet and the couch are stained from a life of living with kids and kittens and a bevy of friends is not what is visibly here. Though some of that  is beautiful, too.

What’s beautiful here is the thing unspoken, the thing unseen, but often felt. It’s the thing that has broken us down and broken us open and the thing we rest our hearts on when we sleep.

What’s beautiful here is … us.

 

Buoyancy

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m sinking. Not bobbing up and down like I’m treading life, nor even my own weird little breast stroke toward a known shore. Just sinking, a teensy bit here and a teensy bit there.

I can feel the tug on my ankles, on my spine, and even, sometimes, at the base of my neck.

Of course, my initial reaction to this feeling is to think of it as negative: I’m drowning! Something is wrong! I must have a foot tumor! (I don’t. I have the fairly common and treatable plantar fasciitis–maybe, I see the doctor next week.)

This is me. “I’m sinking!” waving my arms toward a shore I can’t see and certain that no one is paying attention as the water covers my heart, my ears, my eyes.

Instead, I could rid myself of the water metaphor and simply tell myself: “I’m landing! I’m getting grounded! I’m finding my footing–even with a foot tumor!” and then rest in the damp grass while smelling the newly blooming flowers.

It is a choice, isn’t it? To decide if what I am feeling is a good thing or a thing of dread. Though most days it takes the form of dread and anger, until I look around me and see that I am cared for by someone who deserves so much more from a partner who isn’t partnering much these days–like he threw me the lifeline and instead of helping him to pull me back into the boat, I’m either floating, fully buoyant, or resisting with dead weight because that’s what I feel like right now. Dead weight.

You know, I sat down to write about underpants. Yup. Underpants. He hates when I write about such things. But I was remembering how I opened the underpants drawer the other day as I got dressed and there was a fire of joy lit when I saw that the ones on top were The Big Underpants–the cotton, stretched out but still functioning, REALLY big underpants. It was like, oh, THIS is going to be a comfortable day.

And then, boom, the realization that all my days are “comfortable” right now. None of my days require anything but the big underpants–or at least very few of them. This is when I feel the tug that feels like drowning.

Like when I am enjoying eating an orange as I sit on the steps of the back deck, sun shining on my face and the orange cat stretched out behind me in the shade of my body. And then, BOOM: I don’t deserve this. I have not worked for this moment of joy. And there isn’t enough grace in the universe to cover my not working, not deserving.

I am floating gracelessly these days–even floating between being fully buoyant and easy to move to being the full dead weight of myself. I’ve been floating from one thing until I land at the next, pretending I am laying the groundwork for economic recovery down the road. Except I’m not really pretending, because I believe it. I believe that I am planting seeds even when it feels like I’m just sitting on the wet turf, my bottom sinking deeper and deeper.

But it doesn’t buy bread or wine, this seed-planting.

And maybe I’m a fool for believing in myself when there is no evidence to point toward that ever working before. But this is me, putting one sore foot in front of another. Trying to find my ground again. Trying to remember that gravity is my friend and being pulled down is not always a bad thing.

Oh, and all days should be big underpants days. Just sayin’.

 

When I die

When I die
I hope my hands
are reaching out

touching the face of a beloved,
accepting the grace of a loving god,
offering peace and love to the world

Whether my nails are trimmed,
or the skin on my hand resembles shed snakeskin,
or if my rings are resting the bedside table

It matters only that my hands are
stretching up and out
away from the me I know
and toward all I love and leave
and all I’m heading to

Where my hands point
I know my soul
will follow
in life as well as in death.

94. My Soul

Partial lyrics of a hymn
come to me in the quiet

“oh my soul, my soul”

I wonder who else is
launching that lament
into this night’s sky?

Syrian orphans?
Indigenous Water Protectors?
Black mothers?
People of faith (or not)
made victim of an election cycle
designed, it seems, to tear
us all from each other.

Oh my soul, my soul

It cries for you
for reconnection to hearts
that beat in wonder, in beauty,
and in love.

Oh, my soul, your soul

72. Autumn

I’m longing, again
Longing, and my
heart’s not yet
sure

Is it family I seek?
a caramel cupcake? or
a quiet place to think?
I’m longing

again and
still
for all the things
ephemeral

Oh, Autumn,
it’s you who
whispers
in my heart

be quick
you say
act now
you moan

urging me to wallow
in what almost isn’t
rather than what
most certainly is

60. Recipe for Remembering

Here is a recipe
for remembering

Sit still and
be alone, quietly

Or move about and
be in a crowd, loudly

Or take a shower
so the steam
cleans out the pores
that keep the memory
out and the pain in

Watch a movie
or read a book
or take a hike
or listen to the music
of the toads at night

But most of all
let go of trying to
remember and
more than anything
of trying not to feel
whatever you feel
about remembering

Remember
Feel
Repeat
and let your
heart be open
to the all of it

Perhaps this isn’t
a recipe
so much as a
love letter

59. Keening

Researchers Uncover Epidemic of Loneliness
the headline read

Talking about geriatric people
in England, mostly

Another headline told
of a great and greedy
beast, tearing up the
earth with mechanical
teeth with no consciousness
for the sacred, for the burial sites

They connect,
somehow.
In the depth of my
loneliness
I hear the sorrow of
the earth and the people
who have loved it

Loved it
not it’s resources
not it’s creature comforts
nor even it’s beauty
because the beauty
was not something
other than the earth
and the wind
and the sea

And the epidemic
of loneliness–can it
be traced to this
separation not only
from loved ones
but from the source?

I leaned my head back
and felt the urge to keen
to bring the hurt
up from the ground
through my toes
coursing upwards and out
through my mouth and
into the wind
hoping to reach others
walled in by their loneliness
or fear of not being enough
to make change in a world
and a people
calling out for it

53. Cotton Candy Clouds

The light is fading
pinky-blue in the
western sky
a huge white cloud
is lit up like
electric cotton candy
and I’m inside
thinking of you
sorrow welling up
for the distance
between us
sorrow consuming me
for lost moments
and lost years

But when I look at
that cotton candy sky
I set the sorrow aside
briefly
and remember
that not all that is lost
is gone
just tucked away
for some other time.

52. At the end of the world

Where the world ends
you’ll find me there
cradling your head
or holding your hand
firmly, but not tightly
but, then again,
if it is the end of
the world
perhaps my hands
won’t ache
in the joints and
muscles or maybe
I just won’t care

Even though in real
time the outdoors
gives me hives
I picture us
at the end of the world
sitting on a rock
with evergreens hanging
overhead
watching the sun set
on the red hills
outside of Sedona

That sounds like a
good way to meet
the end of the world

which I’m thinking
about more and more
this political season

we all find our peace
somehow
don’t we?