Ear Buds

google images:earbuds

 google images:earbuds

There’s a whole world that travels

from computer or smart phone up the thin

cords through the rubber ear buds

where it bursts into life and dance and frolic

that careens around the gray matter of my brain.

 

I’m wrapped in the swirling strains of Beethoven

and Adele and Liszt and the Beatles and Shostakovich and 60’s Doo Wap,

my imagination freed from the blare of the cooking show

Mother watches on TV, freed to the music,

alive with moods,

images,

words

and letters afloat.

 

The music pulls me into dank, deep forests of

unrealized goals where I wallow, gasping for air,

until weak armed I reach for lofty peaks

of hope in the strife to survive,

until I’m caught and gathered up

on the wisps of daylight

of tomorrow’s possibles.

 

They press glimmers

against the drag of the schedule of care

for this ancient house,

this fading generation,

this memoir to a way of life

that seems stilted to great-great grandchildren;

or to anyone with energy and stamina enough

to venture out into the frantic rush

of the city traffic that’s still alive

in its bustle of existence

and that continues

without either Mother or me.

 

These ear buds keep me tethered

to the expectancy that life won’t always be this.

Be here. Be staid.  Be constricted by age and frailty.

 

The ear bud wires hum,

my ears tingle,

the floating fragments settle

gel and ooze

down my arms

out my fingers on the keyboard

to live again in words on the page.

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Four Part Harmony

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

The calendar says Spring. Mild temps and blue skies. It mostly is here but my friends in Nashville have snow flurries today. Snow in March. Winter Vortex has reached its icy fingers south this year. Fingers that crawl along the keys, trilling the notes, filling the ears with the soar, the pound, the Montague and the Capulet of the couplet flowing into sixteenth notes on the sixteenth of November when there could be snow and winter’s blast, but not here. And not now.

Here is where the surf and sand and desert flowers bloom at the foot of tall peaks as the keys lift and fall and music runs up and down the scale. By the way, I saw a scale today. A scale model plan for a cardboard microscope, so inexpensive and versatile it could be used in far-flung places where no funds exist for medical care, and so easy to create that one day every boy and girl could have one in their book bag. Assuming, of course, there will be book bags necessary to carry iPads and tablets and iPhones. Or perhaps, all the technology will be embedded in their skin. No book bags necessary.

Further assuming, of course, technology will continue to amaze and capture our money and time with ever evolving advancements in productivity and touch-friendliness thrills that we just can’t live without.

Like the trill of the falling and rising ivory and ebony, pulled by the taut wires to the soundboard; the same as vocal cords to the human soundboard. I’m enthralled and amazed at four female voices tight harmonies at they pelt out a tilt on traditional Sweet Adelines barbershop harmonies gone modern with jazz riffs and scats.

See, people continue to amaze me at what can be accomplished when someone believes and tries and stretches and achieves. Frankly, I’m more impressed at a Cappella tight jazz harmonies than I am a piano virtuoso. And I do love piano.

No, I can’t do either, although I can sing better than I can play, but the piano keys don’t change. Well, they can go out of tune, but the relative space between a half step or a full step remains, right?

Can’t say the same about the human vocal instrument. Not enough diaphragm support or not enough air coming in or the throat tightens and the riffs and scats don’t go traditional or jazz. They don’t impress at all. That human instrument requires rest and fuel and strength and stamina. Not to mention hard work. And control. Now that is truly amazing. Taming the vibrato, tuning the chords just so and controlling it to go from soft soothing to loud and powerful. When it’s done right? Exquisite. And should the notes be placed out on the tongue or operatically back in the throat? Which style floats your boat?

“Wish I had boat,” she said, as she sat on the edge of the bathtub, trailing her fingers through the water, making waves in the floating fallen hairs and particles of dried hairspray and collected dust. “Maybe then I’d clean this bathtub more often.”

With a groan, she stood stiffly, used the handle of her cane to help pull herself upright, got her feet turned around and started out of the bathroom, “Not that it matters, since I can’t get in the tub anymore.”

“Oh, you could get in,” I said as I push the lever down to empty the tub, “I just have no idea how I’d get you up and out.” I wield the long handled cleaning brush through the water to move the hair and debris toward the drain.

The drain whirlpools, catching the dreams of someday when there’s money I’ll travel, jostled in the swirl of snapshots of youth decayed to frailty and hairs grayed, bouncing against today’s dandelion flowers peppered on green grass and the hummingbird feeder hook on the tree limb that sways empty in the breeze, encircled by the tiny glistening quiver of birds looking in vain for a sip.

The kaleidoscope spins pink light from the window sheers; Febreeze air freshener particles dance, tickle my nose and gag my throat in the dance with Sassoon Ultra Hold hairspray, Baby Wipes moist, Polident denture wash, Fragrance Free Depends Women’s Underwear, Witch Hazel Pore Astringent and Ponds Cold Cleansing Crème.

What I want to know is this. How does she come out of this bathroom without smelling strange? She’s the queen of sponge baths. Can’t get in the tub anymore and making the trek to the shower in the other bathroom, more than once a week, is too wearying a task to even contemplate. So she says and so it appears. Yet, she doesn’t smell bad. Perhaps the magical powers of these conflagrating aromas cancel each other out, or buoy one another up? Their harmony rises and falls at the flick of the aerosol.

Not that I mind. As long as she can sponge bathe, that’s one less task for me. I dread the day when I’m the giver of sponge baths. I don’t want to go there. I don’t want her or me to be compacted to that. I pray for her to go quietly in her sleep after a normal busy day of private bathroom ablutions and unbidden spontaneous naps in her chair at the dining room table in front of the TV, Irish tenors and Doo Wop harmonists her lullaby.

I don’t want to be the caregiver of diaper changes and bed-fast ministrations. I want the song to be easy. I want to sing the song I like. I care about me. I care about my comfort. I am selfish.

Help me, God. Move me beyond self. Be here with me in this, God. I’m helpless, without you. I’m all about me, without you. Take her easy, God. Trill the music of the life dance through the melodies of the lift of her spirit to you in soft soothing tones of rich harmony; the Trinity reaching to welcome her spirit; the glorious finale to her four part harmony.

kitchen visions…

image source:Bing image

image source:Bing image

Knife flies, onions weep,
garlic peel    sticks
Mother cries with throat clogs.

Time flies while Fur Elise sweeps
the keys.
Who knew?
This was no season for angst.

Where is the time kept that perfected
thus?

Sisyphean over and over
around and around, up and down
in and out
marks dread’s thread pulled
over years and ages and days and
minutes to hold in a No. N.O.

Yet, here I am, wheeling the knife
shaping the pieces, carving the chunks
that eases with less than Herculean.

I’m quite impressed
Beethoven, Orff and Bizet serenade
with an flow that marks success.

Smile fills my plate.
Why did I not know it could be this easy?

Chartreuse and Blood

image source: Bing images

image source: Bing images

Violins quiver, bows strike, pull, push, strings pulsate to the beat of the harpsichord’s twang.  Shadows dance round and round, through the center, along the perimeter, hoop skirts flounce, tails sail, the light shimmers between the folds of the curtains, around the length of the arms that encircle one another in the proper mating dance.  The pace quickens, the dancers pin ball across the room; my watching mind and eyes driven by the whirling dervish of non-stop violin and harpsichord, all treble clef sixteenth notes.

Ah, the musicians have moved on to flute, violin and harpsichord.  Lovely.  And some eighth notes.

Thank goodness.  The pace on the first piece was non-stop into drivel, pounding away at the ears, pounding away at the brain, pounding away at the muscles, pounding away into foot tapping, pounding away into pulses that fire the fingers into hard pounding, pounding away on all the wrong keys.

Violin answers violin, violin dances in partnership with violin, flute leads violin, violins join to follow, they sway from treble clef to bass clef and the ears are happy to have some deeper sound, if you get my drift.  All those high notes can get to you after a while, right?  Add some bass and basso profondo and give the ears a break, why don’tcha?

The light trilling of the high flute is airy and dainty, skipping across meadows searching for a perch, while the contra-alto flute is sorrow and depth and longing and hunger fed by its miseries, its moves more ponderous; its expressions richer.  Together they plumb the heights and depths of emotions buried yet cascading to the surface in an upward belch of beauty.

My eyes are drawn to the inner door opening.  An overweight woman comes through the doorway, makes her way stiffly to the outside door, opens the door and leaves.

The spell is broken.  I pull out my ear-buds and lose Bach and the orchestra.

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

The ballroom with its dancers is replaced with this waiting room, old asbestos twelve-inch, off-white floor tiles polished to a bright shine, plastic molded chairs in chartreuse with a slight dip to the seat and curve to the back, in the same shade of chartreuse as the freshly painted walls contrasting to the white counters and paperwork.  Unusual to be in a waiting room where there are only two décor colors.  No framed pictures of flowers or meadows or mountains.  The only things on the walls are the posters touting the benefits of regular doctor care and employer minimum wage requirements.  They’re white with black print readable only up close.  From a distance, they make their own type wall decoration.  I’ve noticed of late that many doctors’ offices have no magazines, in fact, no reading material at all, in their waiting rooms.  Good thing I brought my iPod for listening.

I put the ear-buds back in and Bach returns.  I close my eyes and instead of ballrooms and dancers, I see the reason people are here, the reason people disappear into the inner door, the reason the nurses go through paperwork and the reason they call people’s names and the reason for all the chartreuse and white.

image source:Bing

image source:Bing

It’s to camouflage the red that flows behind that inner door; the red that’s collected through sharps into small vials with rubber stoppers, the red that will be centrifuged, the red that will be shipped and messengered, the red that could result in bad news, and tears, and fear, and dread; the red that could result in no news because no news is good news, right?

The harpsichord and violin soar and the red flies upward, painting the chartreuse with dots, with streams, with puddles, with cascades, with spurts, with fountains.  It bounces with each note, settles in the rests, spins with the flute, sprays on the crescendo and with the retard of the last bar, coalesces back into the vials and pulls on the rubber stopper hats.

“Ready to go?”

My eyes open.  My friend is standing in front of me, a wad of cotton under a piece of tape on the inside crook of her arm so that no more of her red escapes.  I’m only here as designated driver.  My red is safe.  I’m happy to exit the chartreuse and white, to leave the collected red behind.  I know one day I’ll have to give up my red, but not today.  Today, I escape.

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