The End

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

I was sure this was it. I’d been expecting it and here it was. Finally. It had to come in-spite of all the global warming deniers and those right-wing nuts who can’t see the inherent damage fracking will do, plus the war mongers who want to spend and spend and spend building up a surplus of war machines and train innocent young people to sacrifice themselves as soldiers in some unauthorized invasion of a third world country.

At last reality and sanity have been pushed over the edge of the survival cliff. I knew it would happen. This had to be the end. I mean, really, how much more could the natural world take? The fragile ecology is being murdered, stripped bare, decimated by the ugly plundering of big companies. Is it any wonder the world is imploding in on itself?

I wanted to scream: I TOLD YOU SO. At least that was my thought the split second the sky went black. It was 9:03 a.m. and hot. Over 100 degrees yesterday and was headed there today. Until it got dark. Then the temperature went mild. Like it does after a summer rain storm in the New Mexico mountains.

The dark only lasted about a minute or so, which I suppose meant that if you were in a windowless room or in a corridor in the center of an office building, you wouldn’t even know the sun was gone. You couldn’t miss the next bit, though.

It was a like a lightning bolt that lit up the entire atmosphere in bright gold. It was too bright to look at. It glowed from everywhere. As if the light came from inside the room to meet the light outside. And the noise was like a trumpet sound that would hit the guys in the seats in the nosebleed section at the same time and with the same impact as the guys in the front row seats. Everyone heard every word. It was a sound that would wake the dead.

It was loud, but it was also a whisper that seeped down into my ears and jagged at my heart.

“Holy, Holy, Holy.”

I didn’t know who or what was holy. Wasn’t that like some religious thing that people in big old mausoleums of dead religions were always saying?  Maybe I was having a stroke. They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die and I was remembering things I’d done and said that I hadn’t thought of in years. I was seeing dead people, like Grandpa Joe and Aunt Lizzy and my buddy, Larry, who crashed off the pier when we were in tenth grade.

The sky was full of these flying men. They looked beautiful, like the statues of Greek Gods, and they were all saying the same thing,

“Bow down before the King of Kings.”

How could this be? Was the world really coming to an end because of some religious hype? All that stuff that my grandparents and that weird old guy down on the corner tried to tell me?

How could anyone really believe in a vindictive supreme being who liked giving kids cancer? Or who stood by and watched while Tsunamis destroyed entire countries?

I would not give in to this delusion, this hype, this fear mongering.

Why wouldn’t the flashes of my life stop? I was still breathing, so I wasn’t dead. I stood still in the middle of the room. A room that I like dark with heavy drapes. This light, this bright gold was everywhere. I couldn’t see shadows under the trees outside or under the carport next door. Just bright gold everywhere.

The noise of those voices and a rushing sound like thousands of bird wings kept on. My ears hurt and my heart felt pressure like it was trying to leave my body. A heart attack. That’s what this was.

I wiped the sweat out of my eyes. The sky was getting crowded. I swear I could see something like people of all sizes in long robes floating up from the ground.

I blinked. I was nine years old again and sitting next to Grandma in church. The guy down front was saying, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

It was like a door opened and truth came rushing out. For the first time in my life, I got it. God was real. He was pure and couldn’t look at selfishness or murder or anger or all the ways we try to hurt ourselves and others. He gave up his own son, Jesus, to handle all the mean, evil stuff in the world. All the things people had done, like mass murderers and despots who killed their own people, and babies slaughtered while still in the womb, I finally understood. God gave me a choice and I decided to be my own god. Most people I knew had decided to be their own god. The whole world was living with the end result.

What was this new feeling? Love? Flashes of blue light swirled around me. It was a pulsing thing that rubbed against my ears and made the hair on my arms stand up. If I’d had any hair left on my head, it would have stood up. My scalp vibrated.

What was the voice saying now? “I never knew you.” Just like that, the pulsing, swirling power around me floated away, as if I had a personal shield that kept the light and the love from moving through me. My heart lurched again and I knew the awful truth. I lived in the black, dark, selfish part of life and I had missed the light. I wouldn’t know the love. I had been dead to truth. Truth was dead to me.

The gold everywhere was being swallowed up by black waves of pain that lived in heavy dark clouds with a smell like a burning garbage pit. Black, ugly monsters flew through the air towards me.

“No!” I jerked and flung my arms up to fight against the black creatures. The thud when I hit the floor and the pain in my hip woke me. The night stand was on its side next to me and the digital clock was on the floor. I picked up the clock. 6:57 a.m.

Oh, my God. What a nightmare. I rubbed my sore hip and dragged myself off the floor. I shook my head, but it wouldn’t clear.

Jake. I tolerated him at work because he was good at the job. I hated the joy and love he always seemed to have. I never let him get any further when he’d offer to pray for me. Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe there was still time for me to get it right. Jake. Jake would know if God would still give me a chance. I moved to the heavy drapes and opened them to let in the morning light.

Advertisements

The do…

image source:picsbox

image source:picsbox

I wonder if we choose
cadillac shine with fingers to the keys and
synapsis firing
or do the pistons lift and fall to the unseen?

Fingers filled and colored bright        glued           stationary
where they   float   push    pull
GRASP             reach   tug      despair
d

r

o

w

n.

How they soar to the music and bleed into the camera,
emerge, wholly frac  tured.

I try to wrap my head around that beauty, that strange
drama of pain, fulfillment, Joy.  Driven determination.

They leech into my sleep.
Dreams skate across the wrinkled blanket and
fall into the abyss of sweet and fearful.

“Like a sparrow in his flitting, like a swallow in its flying,
a curse that is causeless does not alight.”

Proverbial sight pierces dark.  Not proverbial until birthed,
right?  I mean, the proverb started somewhere, get it?

Begin the beguine, trip the light fantastic
right down to the drive, the sit, the start, the do, the do, the do.

Was that really so hard?  The barrier releases and the flood
bursts
OR trickles, trickles, trickles,
rains, splatters, downpours, floods;

OUT they spit, the letters, the a, the c, the qu, the z
after one, two, three   Squat.

So, if outside, implore;
if inside, explore
else denying dry DIE crackle and Never have life.

Trailing clouds of glory…

image source:google images

image source:google images

Seventy-five degrees, blue skies, birds twittering their songs in the trees with leaves swaying in the breeze, it’s a perfect Southern California fall day.

I go out and put water in the flower petal shaped birdbath for Mother since she hasn’t been feeling well.  She loves being outside, keeping the bird bath clean and filled with fresh water, but she’s out less and less these days.  Anyway, I add fresh water to it, right?  And above me, somewhere in the long, leafy branches of the apricot tree, a bird starts putting up a racket.  And I do mean racket, if you get my drift.

It’s a funny sound for a medium sized bird with red on the top of the head, a white throat, gray chest and black wings.

“Quack.  Quack.  Quack.”  Or if you prefer, Wikipedia says, “waaka, waaka, waaka.”  Sounds like “quack” to me.

I come back inside and the silly bird gets louder and louder.  The next time I look there are three of them at the bird bath.  Acorn Woodpeckers, so Mother says.

“Do you think that bird called his family to tell them there’s water in the birdbath?”  I ask.

Mother makes her way over to the kitchen window, her cane clunking right along with the quacking outside the open window.  Plunk, quack.  Plunk, quack.  Plunk, quack.

“Maybe so,” Mother says, “I’ve seen four of them at the birdbath, and two are young ones.”

They fly before long but the yard, which had been quiet until I turned on the water, is now filled with Sparrows and Finches poking around in the grass and there’s a busy squirrel moving up and down the fat, old trunk of the Apricot.

The quiet and the still has been replaced with chitter-chatter and an infinitesimal undulation of teeming life.  Bees and Hummingbirds vie for the prominent spot at the feeder; flies flit, butterflies dip and sway, ants march along the path, spiders swing on invisible threads and over the fence, the neighbor’s dog yaps.

Sunday afternoons have always meant no pressure to accomplish anything of significance and so I sit on the wooden bench rocker with the sun warming the top of my head and my skin.  The birds were startled when I came out, but the longer I sit still all the movement in the yard, trees and bushes returns.  I’m drowsy in the sun.  A kite floats overhead, its tail trailing just above the fence.  I reach up and catch the tip and am aloft.  As I look down, our patch of green shrinks until it’s just a tiny dot in the middle of the curvature of the horizon.

I see now how infinitesimal my grasp on life has been.  How small my dreams that only lived among the known heights and depths of what I could see and touch and hear and taste.  This blue ball in the swirling black expanse studded with twinkling dots is but a speck in all the universes that stretch to infinity and on and on.

I must go higher.  I urge to go higher but I am impotent as my balloon has no inertial dampeners, no life support, no sublight engines.

I lose height.  I float downward; the dots of green, the dark of mountains, the blue of the ocean, the black of its buried depths rush towards me; the tip of skyscrapers fly past and become giants once again.  I recognize the Apricot branches and aim for the back yard rocker where this trip started.

I’ve seen the heights, so what will change?  What will I believe?  What will drive me on through each day now that I know the truth?  Will I be satisfied again with being comfortable when someone else needs food or clothing or comfort?

No.  I cannot be happy with just getting by when unknown possibilities are there for the nurturing.  I cannot be buried with the stress of the temporariness of an aging body, a dying world.  I cannot allow the stresses and concerns of the tangible consume all my time and effort.  My thoughts flit back to the vastness of space and time.  There’s more; there’s a universe more; seek it, reach for it.  I find myself agreeing with Wordsworth,

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory
Do we come From God, who is our home:”

Freeze

image: lionheartherbs

image: lionheartherbs

Impossibly blue.  Blue that runs in rivulets, coursing from east to west in a great splash of vibrancy that covers every pin-prick, every divot, every crease in the old, chipped, and here and there, crumbling plaster walls.  The blue bleeds into the carpet where the walls touch the floor and seeps into the dirty, dusty old fibers like the coursing in of the tide until it reaches where I stand and begins to paint my toes, creeping up.

I’m very curious.  What will this blue do?  I have no idea where it will stop.  Will it mingle with the blood in my veins that give hints of bluish lines under the skin?  I’m not sure I want to change all of my tint.  What if it covers so well that those varicose vein spots of dark blue spread and cover up the rest of my skin color?  I am breathless.  I gulp.  I’ll be a walking Blue Woman.

How do they breathe?  How will I catch and hold to life if all my pores are mucked tight in slime that shines so bright I’ve become flashing neon?  Why, they could paint adverts on me and make a dime perhaps.

I’m struck suddenly with a worse scenario that grabs tighter at my lungs and leaves me deep sucking for air.  I might just blend into the walls and carpet and sky and vast eternity where unseen I will be lost to float without notice amid the halls of time, perhaps bouncing erratically through hazy dimensions, mossy and mysterious, ever seeking, ever yearning, ever longing to find permanence, to stand-out, to have some effect, to leave behind a tombstone written with words of wit and wisdom beyond the simple description, She Was Blue.

Not that blue per se is bad.  Blue is the color of a clear sky, the color of the notes of a jazz horn, the color of an ink, the color that happily announces the birth of a baby boy.

The clunk-splat sound of the paint brush hitting the tipped over paint-can brings me back to the bedroom painting project.  Two and a half walls done, two and a half to go.

I stand in the center of the room, no make-up, hair pulled up in a sloppy pony-tail, the nose piece of the protective glasses irritating the side of my nose, wearing paint-stained cut-offs and one of Sam’s old tee shirts, the ancient carpeting serving as a drop-cloth, the used-up can of paint at my feet, and in my ear, the ipod sound of the weather report of another blast of frozen Arctic Air that is turning everywhere in the United States, except us here in the far western states, blue with cold. I grab a paper towel, wipe the dot of blue off my big toe and reach for a new can of paint.

“Hey,” Sam comes through the open door, briefcase still in one hand, “you went with blue.”

He walks to my side, leans his head to mine and gives me a peck on the cheek, making sure to get nowhere near the paint stained shirt, “Does that mean it’s a boy?”

“Time will tell,” I smile and concentrate on prying the lid off the new paint can.  If I look too long in his eyes, he’ll see into my blue morass.

“I love how brave you are,” he says, walking back to the door, “giving up your meds so our baby will be healthy.  I knew you could do it,” he smiles, pulls off his tie and leaves the room.

I stir the paint, pick up the brush and start painting.  The frozen blue ice in the can melts into blue paint as it meets the wall.

Sugar Rush

Some days excite;

possibilities of life,

expectation of travel,

affirmation that something

said or written is

worth listening to and being read

appreciated and enjoyed;

image source:magdascakesnc

image source:magdascakesnc

Exciting as cake, fresh berries and chocolate sauce.

Why not?  Wheat and dairy = no-no’s.

Just this once?

Sugar and chocolate buzz fuel the

2 a.m. forty-five mile trip home,

3 a.m. stomach distress

9 a.m. headache pushes though sleep.

Still, sugar hangover and food sensitivities

pale in comparison to the memory of

the night’s  fun and anticipation.

Remember when the rush was the thing?

Now the thing’s the thing,

The promise of hope of the

Tomorrow faith sees.

NIGHTMARE

dandelion sky

image:wallpapersforest

It felt good to know who I was.  My job paid enough that I lived in Beverly Hills adjacent.  Just a one bedroom apartment but fine for a single, career woman.  Only ten minutes from work and in Southern California’s one to two hour commutes, I was living easy.  My circle of friends from church and I went to movies, ate out and cared for each other.  I was loving it.

When I moved back to California, Mother wanted me to live and work near her and Daddy but my skills meant LA’s financial center and living near them in Pomona meant a two hour commute.  Still, weekend trips were doable.  I had the best of both worlds.

I had lost weight, had a new wardrobe, learned which colors and hairstyles looked good on me, was taking voice lessons and singing regularly at church.  The new pianist had a red sports car.  He was cute.  Life was good.

Mother was working on family genealogy when I got to the house that Friday night.  The dining room table held picture albums and family tree info.  She jumped up, piled things together and fretted over how she meant to have the table cleared for dinner.  At his desk, Daddy gave me a warm smile, a kiss and a hug.

Mother made Daddy’s favorite meal of steak and baked potatoes.  As we ate, I asked Daddy about his work driving around Southern California to meet with churches that needed financing for construction.  The talk turned to the genealogy Mother was compiling.

I was content.  The old, Spanish house with craftsman hardwoods was filled with pictures of my brothers and sister and their kids, Mother’s plants and knick-knacks covered every space, her various projects were stacked around.  The book shelves were overflowing.  Cozy and lived-in.

Daddy pushed his chair back, took off his glasses and cleaned them with his napkin.  Mother was still eating tiny bites.

“I found pictures of the house we lived in when you were born.”  She said.  “I had two babies and a toddler, all in diapers.  Your father was out working all day.  We propped you up in the corner of the couch with your bottle.”  She sipped her iced tea.  “Mama” she went on, “came out for the weekend and said, ‘That baby is failing; if you don’t want her, I’ll take her.’”

A knife-like pain hit my gut. I couldn’t breathe. I flushed hot.

“Well, it scared us to death, of course.  We never did that again.  We held you for every bottle.”  Mother went on cutting and chewing.  Daddy smiled at me and stood and carried his plate to the kitchen sink.

image:google images

image:google images

My head was spinning.  I didn’t remember the rest of the evening, but in the spare room, the twin bed tight against storage boxes, my sleep was flooded with old thoughts and feelings.  I didn’t fit in at school, was afraid to take an art class or join in sports or school clubs.  I could never make Mother happy.  She never approved of my hair, what I wore, what I wanted to do.  I never felt pretty or useful.  I was worthless.  I jerked awake as bile rose and threatened suffocation.  The pain in my gut told me I finally understood.

The next day I limped back to Beverly Hills adjacent, wounded and scarred.  One part of me weighed the facts: she was a young mother, busy, overwhelmed, tired; Daddy was working; they did the best they could.  The other part of me felt pain in my gut; ache in my heart; the need to know I was loved and valuable to Mother.  Life with Mother had always been about her, not me.  I felt weighted, drugged, my nose barely above the surface of heavy water, the swirling mists taking the shape of Mother.

I opened the door to my apartment and knew I had to choose.  I could drown in the nightmare of old memories, old programmed responses or I could embrace the new person I had become.  There was only one way out.  It would take time, but I couldn’t go back.  I would have to forgive.  I pushed through the heavy funk that swirled around me, opened the drapes and let in the light.  The specter of Mother in the murk faded away.

[3rd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #14]

BALANCE

image:google images

image:google images

The moon filled the entire sky. Its shine lit up the ice cream peaks below me as I curled my toes around the high-wire, my bunny rabbit in one hand, the other hand outstretched towards Roger Miller who labored over ebony and ivory as he and his piano kept disappearing into a cloud, then reappearing just at the crescendo of the chorus.

I couldn’t see the end to my journey but I walked on, my six-year-old toes curled around the wire. They seemed to work like Velcro while Roger played, but in the rests they loosened and felt more like silk on the high-wire. I held my breath until the rest gave way to melody and my feet Velcroed once again.

The air began to warm as we left the ice cream peaks, but I’d captured some of the creamy vanilla in my pocket so I wasn’t worried. A huge dark peak poked up into the sky. The wispy clouds around its top saw me and rushed to surround me with their warm aroma that made my stomach rumble. My energy was sapped; I was ravenous and parched, weaker by each step. If not for the Velcro and Roger, I would swoon at any moment.

With a sound of rolling thunder, the top of the volcano peak burst off and a jet of chocolate sauce shot up then fell ground ward in splurts of thick sauce, Hershey’s Kisses, Butterfinger bars, chunks of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Reese’s peanut butter cups and M&M raindrops.

image:bigstockphoto

image:bigstockphoto

Were my arms too short to reach? With my free hand, I dug in my pocket, pulled out the creamy vanilla and reached out towards the jet spurt. My little muscles straining, aching, lengthening out, twelve inches, eighteen inches, twenty-six inches, thirty-three inches until, yes! The rich, brown, steamy sauce drenched the ice cream, the smile on my face matching the length of my reach. I drew my hand to my face, the bunny in my other hand-held straight out to better my balance and took a bite of my Dairy Queen Dilly Bar.

The joyous, rich flavor surrounded my teeth and filled my brain with a cold sweetness, my hunger and thirst forgotten, my knees bent in enjoyment and my toes and hands smoothed out. My bunny floated away. I had paid no attention to the three-quarter rest in Roger’s music so Velcro and balance on the high wire were lost.

image:wholespice

image:wholespice

I belly-flopped into the spew of sweet. I sank downward, the chocolate ooey-gooey bounty swirling around me as we descended, filling every pore, every crevasse, coating my hands, my face, my legs, my arms with sweet.

I fell, fell, fell, fell, until slowly the chocolate candy river faded away; brightness pressed against my eyelids and strange sounds began to beat against my eardrums; a digital intermittent beeping, a ping of electrical equipment, a drip of fluid through plastic tubing, faint worried voices.  One sonorous nagging voice broke through clearly,

“There is a balance to managing Diabetes,” the doctor was saying, “and binging on chocolate is not included in a healthy lifestyle.”

“Will she recover from the coma?”

I recognized my oldest daughter’s voice. It had that same urgent, irritated tenor she used when scolding her small children. It was the same tone my mother used to correct me when I was six.

“Possibly.” The doctor said.

Should I go or stay?  In the distance I could see that chocolate river, bumpy with round, square and oblong candies.  I had been a champion swimmer in high school.

3rd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #11