The memory-bearer

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Time sustains you, holds you, owns you, finally kills you. You consume and transform time, wear it on your face, show it in your frowns, fears, and fancies. You eat time like bread or bitter herbs to grow muscle, tendon, tumor. Time savages the bones of soul and body, leaving you a cripple, hobbling toward your home of dust. Time lights a match to your anger, makes you laugh though no one else does, and brands you with memories that singe and sear your heart.

 

 

 

Time chooses you to be the memory-bearer, calls you back into the darkness of the past, and shines its constellations of memories as if you knew how to navigate by starlight. Without a guide, you memorize the past’s patterned skies: the pinprick stars that cast scant light and the blazing suns that illuminate every detail. You have long done the work of remembering; but now, remembering is not enough. You must turn and face the darkness behind you, forsake today’s light and trudge backward. You must wake the sleeping dogs and steal their bones.

 

 

 

Though time has left you stumble-footed, you must cross terrain that shifts its shape with every passing. You must walk alone, by faith not sight in a moon-forsaken land, unsure what you are looking for, dragging broken shards of time back into today, unwrapping the remnants of time saved in secrets, believing that if you can find enough pieces to patch together, you can be free of carrying someone else’s memories.

 

 

 

The compulsion to bear the memories and to write the stories you carry, like the belief that you are called by a voice only you hear, is a form of madness. Both writers and mystics live outside the city, less by choice than necessity, hearing voices beyond the walls in the wilderness, so near the dark woods.

 

 

 

I didn’t choose to be the memory-bearer for my mother. For over thirty years, we kept a distance measured in silence. The day the words came, they scorched my throat and burned my lips; but the saying hardened them like steel, strong enough to span the pain. In all times past that place, we walked together.

 

 

 

Mother, eight years dead, comes to me these days, wearing the face of morning, sits beside my bed, and whispers me awake to remind me of my task. I have grown weary with my own reluctance. I hear the voice and have long walked in that wilderness, but oh, I fear the dark woods.

 

 

Love comes in small change

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Love comes in small change: pennies of please and thank you, nickels of you go first,

 

ten-cent hugs, quarters of talks over coffee, half-dollar words not said,

 

and some cents of forgiveness, always held back till the end of the day,

 

for the dirty socks forgotten on the floor and the toilet seat left gaping in the bathroom.

 

Lovers save the change of love, fill their pockets and their piggy banks,

 

to spend on love’s small extravagances.

 

Love is a lifetime of wealth, mostly made of small change.

 

Love is sockless

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The Climber

 

Love is sockless and never wears shoes. The mountain is too hard to climb otherwise. The toes must grip the steep face of rock and hold on tightly to the sharp ledges.

 

 

Love never sees the summit. Its feet yield to the mountain’s hard wisdom: finding rest in sudden seams of green, where the heart grows fat, and climbing past pain to reach a fractured rock to  bind its wounds..

 

 

The first bleeding is the worst, always such a surprise to the new climber.

 

 

The calloused feet never forget the grass, the cool sweet beginnings of the long climb; and when the fall comes, as it must come at the end of every life, the memory of grass makes it all worthwhile.

 

 

Hunger

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Pretend you are the golden child. Reach out your hand for the goblet; taste the love and pleasure that the chosen ones drink; lean back in your chair of velvet; dance to the harp of all the songs they wrote for you; and rest your head on the soft pillow of adulation to dream of the child you were, the one staring in the window at the banquet.

 

 

In your dream you will be cold; and though you pull your blanket around you, you will never find warmth. Hunger will be a crow in your belly with your heart in its beak.

 

 

The dream will last a lifetime. When you awake, pretend you are still the golden child you saw inside the window.

 

 

On the lake

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The sun paints

the side of

the boathouse

glossy white,

splattering

the lake with light

that only night

can wash away.

 

 

 

The trees gather

around the shore

admiring their reflections,

leaves shimmering.

 

 

 

My boat follows

the water’s path,

unanchored.

 

 

 

I love the trees, lake, sun,

this day, this time

and I can almost believe

they love me back

when the wind sighs

and caresses my cheek

without a word,

the way lovers

so often do.

Six or maybe seven reasons you should have an imaginary cat

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My imaginary cat is hiding behind the sofa. You can probably see it better if you close your eyes.

 

Imaginary cats (Non litterus boxis catus, also known as Felix silvesteris imaginarius catus) make excellent pets. You may prefer the term “companion” if you eschew “pet” as a patently humancentric, exploitive term based merely on bipedalism, world domination, and the ability to operate a can opener. Find out why you should have one, or two, probably at least two of them.

 

1. Imaginary cats are easy to feed. As you have no doubt guessed, they feed on your imagination.

 

2. Imaginary cats are completely believable. Put out a litter box and food dish; then tell people your  cat is shy and always hides when other people show up.

 

3. Imaginary cats provide you with hairballs. Due to their hairier-than-thou nature, cats, even imaginary ones, produce hairballs. Few things are more satisfying than placing one or two in the envelope along with your tax payment to the IRS.

 

4. Imaginary cats make your posts popular. If you want to claw your way to the top of internet posts, you must include cat pictures. Where do you get the pictures? Use your imagination. Take pictures of your couch and say the cat is hiding underneath it. Or use the cat pictures hiding inside your computer. Go to your search engine and type in images:cats and make sure you select “labeled for reuse.” (WARNING CLAUSE: Do not view cat images until you finish this post; otherwise, you will not finish this post.)

 

5. Imaginary cats offer an endless source of excuses. If you fail to post on your blog, do your homework, or write a work report, you can say your cat ate your mouse; when your family has a get-together that you don’t want to go to, you can say the cat is sick; and you can get time off from work nine times because your cat died.

 

6. Imaginary cats provide you with companionship. Instead of just typing back and forth with your imaginary friends online, you can talk out loud to your imaginary cat, and unlike your imaginary friends, your imaginary cat truly appreciates all of your catty remarks.

 

 BONUS REASON!! 7. Just today, on this blog, you can get not one, but two imaginary cats for the low, low price of $9.99. But hold your horses (cats don’t like them), I will also throw in five free hairballs, a forever litter box, a food dish, and a slightly scratched vinyl record featuring 22 minutes of hissing sounds, which sound very much like an angry cat. For an additional $5.00, I can send you an 8-track instead. Hurry, this offer won’t last long because someone is bound to complain about sending imaginary cats through the world-wide litter box. Then all my imaginary cats will end up as spam.

 

Kittens

 

None of my cats would come out for a picture, but they look exactly like these kittens photographed at www.christianholmer.com