Night Falls

They say that darkness falls all a’ sudden

like a blackout curtain dropped across the stage

separating us from the light.

 

But that’s not so.

 

We turn towards darkness, gradually, gently,

until figures become indiscernible, one from the other.

 

As the spring peepers sing, nightshapes blend and bleed, stretching towards each other, like the naked branches of the magnolia tree reaching for the sweet gum to comfort and console; to reassure I am here. I’ll see you on the morrow.

 

And in the morning, those very same branches will draw back the curtain of night to turn us back toward day. We will stop to admire the jeweled leaves adorning their knuckles and realize that suddenly it is spring.

 

In Her Wake

They fed each other cured walnuts she’d gathered from the woods last fall, breaking the hard exterior beneath the blows of a hammer stolen from her father’s toolbox and prying out their broken hearts with a pick.

Hand in hand, they walked the pristine lawn, dull blades of grass succumbing to their bare and tender feet. “Look.” He pointed.

She stopped and paused where the mower blades had scraped away the rough roots of the oak tree, two hundred years old, according to local lore, and struck by lightening twice. There was a gap in the trunk, where she used to secret her treasures: Notes from old boyfriends. A journal she needed to hide from her brother. Cash for the time she considered running away. Now, she stuck her hand in the gap and withdrew a plastic bag.

“What’s that?”

She turned and stuffed the bag in her pocket. “Nothing.” She stared at the roots of the tree, imagining the blades of the mower endlessly chasing after themselves, head over heels until they stumbled upon a knot of wood and choked and had to back up and take a new path.

“I love you,” he said.

She reached a hand in her pocket. Felt for the familiar bag, pressed her thumb against the shape, tracing the thin hollow circle again and again.

She had stumbled. “I love someone else.”

She turned and walked again towards home, leaving neatly trimmed blades of grass and a weeping root in her wake.

 

~

This was written for this week’s Studio30+ prompt.

 

 

Truths Untrue

Again, the children called for me to join them. “Come, Eva,” they urged, patting their dirty hands against my skin, pale and unfreckled.

“I cannot.” I shook my head to emphasize the point I had made every day, as if that would finally convince them of the truth of my words. But children, being children, are full of the possibilities inherent in impossibility.

Innocence is beauty. Continue reading

Leaving only Vapor

“I had just come to accept that my life would be extraordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.”

He sat up and stared. No, he has no name. Don’t bother asking, I already did. He prefers anonymity. Anyway, he sat up, shoved the cat from his lap. “Extraordinary, how?” He took a sip of the tea he’d requested, tea I’d had to order from China. Pu-erh something or other, aged in the skin of an orange. He drank four cups each time he came, sitting elegantly upon the sofa he’d convinced me to put on my credit card, paying it off fifty bucks at a time so that he could rest his brittle bones upon a soft leather seat.

“Oh…” I reached into the plastic sleeve and grabbed another Thin Mint. Yes, he preferred the tin from Harrods, but he’d polished them off last month and I hadn’t yet gotten around to placing a new order, despite his persistent reminders. “Well, perhaps extraordinary is too strong of a word.”

“I see.” Another sip of the tea. A resigned sigh as he reached for a cookie.

“My socks, for instance.” Continue reading

Beautiful and Simple and Unknown

I know who won the Academy Awards. I know who fell, know the names of the designers behind the gowns. I know who ordered pizza, who participated in a giant group selfie, who photobombed whom. But I cannot tell you the name of the bird whose call ushers me down the street twee! twee! twee! towards the woods.

Tendrils of warmth are woven into the air, lightly perfumed with manure from the farms outside of town. Water rushes down the street, in its joy catching up sticks and pebbles and plastic bags, hurrying them along towards the storm drains. The snow on the lawn, black and gritty, has begun to recede. A moat of colorless grass surrounds each tree, keeping the snow at bay.

The dog pulls, urging me onward: This is the first time in days that the temperature has allowed us to venture outside for more than a moment. My feet crunch upon the ice at wood’s edge. The dog pauses to sniff at some bushes. The path through the trees is still thickly covered in snow. I am grateful for my boots.

A shimmer of water floats upon the creek’s thick ice, grown lacy at the edges. Snowmelt trickles down the muddy bank, briefly paused in its progress by a fat fingering root. The water pools there, hovering tentatively, one drop at a time, at the bottom of the root before letting go.

A mourning dove calls. A man sits on the ice, an upended white five-gallon bucket his chair, playing a line in his hand. The pumpkin still rests upon the frozen lake, its face wrinkled and withered, sagging and melting, succumbing to inevitabilities.

A cardinal flashes red among the trees as I circle the lake and go back towards the creek.

An empty nest nestles among naked branches, a nest to be lined in soft feathers and settled into, a nest that will soon hold a clutch of oval eggs.

I struggle up the muddy bank, digging in the toes of my boots for purchase and head home, promising myself to look up the name of the bird whose song is beautiful and simple and unknown.

~

This was linked up to Just Write.

 

 

 

 

 

A Square of Cotton Against a Wound

At a loss at what to do with Phillip Jackson Levitt, the family had secreted cameras in every room, save the kitchen: Phillip, being a genteel man, had every meal brought to him upon a silver platter with a single red rose in a crystal vase.

They flew in Doctor Marcel Archambault from Connecticut. Discretion could be bought.

They settled him into a blue wingback chair, pressed a glass of California wine into his hand. Laura held up the remote and stabbed at it with her thumb.

A bedroom. The man Phillip in his bed, asleep. A crystal vase on the nightstand. A single red rose. Continue reading