Palm Springs, My Love (17)

Hot air, brace against it. Remember to breathe, let it embrace you instead. Clear air today, the San Jacinto mountains so close you are sure you could stretch out your arm and pluck a jagged rock from the nearby ridge. More room on the sidewalks in summer. The city leans back, like vacation in a small seaside town. Palm Springs, I love you. I kiss you—you kiss me back, warm breath against my arms, my legs. I close my eyes and lift my face, inhaling you.

[Editor’s note: One of my ideas for earning money in a joyful, heartfelt way now that my income has shifted is to write spontaneous prose poems downtown for donations. This is my first effort for one of the business owners there. I told her she could pick a topic or I would just write what comes to me. She chose Palm Springs. The way she said the name it could have been a lover. I didn’t do it consciously, but I see now I have used her voice here. It was quick and fun, and by the last line I was fully “in it.” After, I took a picture of it with my iPad. I am torn about that part. Is it okay to want to keep them for myself, too? Or do I need to let them be gifts going out into the world without me? I look forward with good hope to writing more. Maybe I can find a way to do them one afternoon or evening a week? Two?]

May I Be (16)

“May I become truly self-assured,” I say. It is a kind of metta I try for my changing. Wishes, Beth calls them. I like that. Part prayers, too, this metta. Part affirmations, maybe. They are all good, all effective, I believe. We only need to bring ourselves to them fully, heart and soul. Not grasping, of course. Believing, hoping, grateful. Funny thing, though, each time I bring myself to this one, I stumble in my mind. I say “reassured” instead of “self-assured.” A mistake, I think. I make it again and again. Then I am at a one-day retreat. I eat Brussels sprouts and radishes leaning against a low wall beside the small fountain on a June afternoon. I eat cool cubes of watermelon for dessert, lick the sweet from my fingers, luxuriate in the summer heat. After, I make a discovery during sitting practice. I say my metta. I make the same mistake. “May I be truly reassured,” I say. And then I know this is not a mistake. To be reassured is exactly what I need. I understand being reassured can be my path to self-assurance. Later, I realize with a kind of awe this is something I trust the universe to give me, no hint of doubt. I make lists in my head, different ways I am reassured. My cats reassured me when they were here in their small furry forms. I get excited about adding to my list, and eager to see how this unfolds, what gets sent to me. On Monday I try to rescue five stems of trimmed orange lantana blooms from the sidewalk, but after my bus ride they are wilted. I kiss them and place them on the bench outside the yoga studio. After in chavasanah I feel bad about not saving them. “But they were loved,” a voice inside me whispers. It is my first clear reassurance since I understood what I am asking for. I am dancing, lying in stillness on the yoga mat. I give thanks. I wriggle, a child about to unwrap a birthday present. What comes next?

Mish Mosh Kind of Day (15)

Today feels like my first day in a long time without any commitments out in the world. I bask in the luxury of it. I go out early, trim the big yellow tecoma. I sit writing in the courtyard, sip fenugreek tea, my left arm getting wet, the hairs on my forearm dusted with mist. (It reminds me of the way the squirrel’s tail was misted in the early morning when I found him dead on the side of Tilton Road in Sebastopol, all those long fine hairs surprising and beautiful. His little form was lying in the crook of “Scary Corner” where the vultures liked to gather. The next day I found a pellet of his tiny bones. I put the collection in a matchbox. I still have them.) My right arm faces away from the misters. It’s wet, too, but just from sweat. It’s muggy and hot. I eat cold watermelon. I do my sitting practice. I have to fight to stay awake. A mourning dove coos from his perch above the tray feeders, and a goldfinch comes to nibble a big leaf on the new batch of sunflowers, that sweet fleeting time, all fresh blooms or buds just about to open, the new bursting energy of them. In between there is work and errands, in and out of the heat in the middle of the day. Later when the sun sinks behind the mountains I sit on the front step to cut my toenails. A bird I don’t know lands on the wooden fence and sings a little song. I’m pretty sure he’s talking to the house finch who are enjoying their evening meal, but I don’t know what he’s saying. He has a graceful curving arc in his throat and beak. When he leaves he flies in a loop above me, as if he wants me to know he knew I was there all along. I write my blog post for this week. I have a story to tell about a gem I uncovered during sitting practice last Saturday, but I am not ready to write it yet. Maybe I am not ready to reveal it. I take warm clothes from the dryer in the dark. I stop to look at the stars. This was a pretty good day.

Shelter (14)

It’s early, just after six in the morning. I am sweeping the cement in the courtyard. I’m a little tired, the aftermath of a long academic year, I think. I am looking forward to the end of the online teacher training I’m co-leading, three more days. The student login help for all the summer terms is beginning to ease off, too, and that part of my job will go away soon. (It will be a relief.) I’ve been going to yoga a lot, still haven’t figured out how to make my mornings work with needing to leave for class each day, feel a little off kilter, almost grumpy about it even though I’m choosing this. I seem to be busy, doing, most of the day. But I’m not getting to things. I’m not writing the way I want to be, not washing the louvered windows, not trimming the yellow tecoma. I remind myself doing yoga is enough. It makes me smile. I hear an odd metallic thump and look over at my neighbor’s roof. I see the pale breast and belly of a very big bird through the branches between us, then they disappear into the tree. An American kestrel is calling nonstop from the electrical pole on the other side of my trailer. I put these two events together, make up a story (or maybe intuit what is true). I believe this bird is hiding from the kestrel. I think it may be a heron, as unlikely as that seems, something about the shape of that torso I glimpsed. I wonder if he tried to steal eggs or got too near a nest. I go back to my sweeping. I decide I feel pretty good, even with being tired from teaching and just this side of disgruntled about my new need to leave home early in the day. I feel content, like something is easy in me. I finish sweeping, fill the bird feeders. I carry water out to the honeysuckle. The waning moon is my companion while I work, big and bold in the western sky. I finish my chores, settle in my tall metal chair outside. The moon is suspended now above the mountains right in front of me. I watch it setting while I sip my lemon garlic drink. Sofia surfaces inside me, and I cry for a moment. I miss her. I am so sorry the end was hard. Sable’s ending, too. I remember the taxi ride, holding Sofia in my lap wrapped in a blanket. I wonder why there are no pet paramedics. I sip my drink, clear of grief again, and listen to the water in the garden, feel at peace. I study my neighbor’s tree and wonder if the big bird is still up there, sheltered in its leaves.

Old Skin (13)

I’ve been chafing for a while now. I resent my old old habits of timidity, of insecurity, of reticence. (Though it comes to me today that I must find a way to love them. Truly.) I understand how they began, why they came, how they served me. I don’t want to dishonor them, diminish the value of their protection. But I want to be done with them now. I annoy people because of them. Or I watch their eyes glaze over, and they dismiss me because I am stuck inside these ways of being that need to be outgrown. I want to escape them. I want to find out how to just be who I am today, not living inside something that doesn’t serve me anymore, has held me back for years now. I have deep peace at the core of me, touch the earth, even trust a kind of wisdom. “I know things,” I say at the retreat. I know things. It is my beginning of becoming unchained. Five days later in a reading I find out the chakra at our solar plexus provides our self-assurance. The card says I may be able to take a “quantum leap.” Yesterday I physically felt the chakra for the first time, eager and excited like a little kid. I am willing, I think, to leap. I am not sure how to do it, though. So I’ll keep taking baby steps. “I know things,” I remember saying. That was one of them, one of the steps. Writing this blog post is another. On Monday I’ll try my hand at reading runes at a store downtown, see where that might lead. One step, then another. And if there is a cliff edge that presents itself, I’ll pray for the courage to leap. And for wings.

Roadrunner Love (12)

I’m sweeping black sunflower seeds across the cement and into the shell-strewn dirt when I hear a funny noise. (I’ve just filled the feeders in my house finch corner of the courtyard, and a handful or two of the dark seeds always spill out.) For a long time I thought this sound I am hearing now was made by one of those extended leashes when you reel them in fast. (We have a lot of dog walkers here. Funny, isn’t it, how we make up things in our heads, trying to make sense of the world?) But now I recognize the sound. It is not a leash. I look for the source and spot the road runner perched at the edge of the swamp cooler on my neighbor’s roof. He is facing north, away from me, surveying his domain. When I talk to him, he swivels his head around, listening. “You’re so beautiful,” I tell him. And then I am crying, all this love welling up in me and spilling over like the sunflower seeds. I think of my cats now, that ache never far away. I marvel at how quick love comes, like that first day I brought Sofia home from the shelter all those years ago. I remember how she walked from room to room in our home over the garage in Sebastopol. She was hunting for signs of other beasts, and she was so relieved and so glad when there were none to be found. (Old scents maybe, of Trair who’d died four months before, but nothing that would threaten her.) Already I loved her so much, as much as I’ve loved anyone. I remember my surprise. I didn’t know then it could happen like that, thought love needed time to grow. That’s how quick it is this morning with the roadrunner. I am filled with the blessing of it. Then I think about how it’s not the same for me with people most of the time. It makes me sad. I guess there are too many things in the way. It’s complicated with humans. For one moment I worry. If I don’t let myself get another animal for the time being, will I not get to feel that kind of love? And then I remember the roadrunner, how it came to me today. I can love wild animals in the meantime. And maybe even other human beings, along with roadrunners, ravens, coyotes, lizards. And me, too.