I always see you first.
As the Arrivals gate swings wide, your eyes, seizing time, are dipped to book
I pause a moment, hoping to provoke anticipation, as those around rush
forward, hug, laugh, cry.
And then the busy crowd moves me on, toward your words-focused figure and
my own, “Hello, I’m here.”
But this has been a long separation.
As the Arrivals gate clicks open your book is tucked,
your eyes are up, waiting.
You smile, big and slow, for you are a big, slow man.
Your gaze pulls me in.
You see me.
She doesn’t impose herself on the morning,
she slips into her day.
Not because she disdains loud clothes and opinions
-- we all have opinions—
but because she won’t scare the bird from the tree or the deer from the yard.
She needs to see the ripple lace the lake,
the ray touch the bough.
Today, there’s a man on his deck with coffee,
he’s observing thin mist that blurs the sea,
she fancies she feels his peace, his contemplation.
Farther on, a father and son run,
hand in hand along the dock.
The boy’s laughter is high and bright,
his legs and his dad’s keep stride,
life jackets, sun hats on,
It’s important to slip into the morning,
there’s time for noise and opinions later on.
Three o’ clock in the morning, I awake sweating,
steeped in cold foreboding.
Don’t do it, it’s a mistake,
pull out, it’s not too late.
But it is.
There’s sweet flowers, rich cake,
plump satin shoes, jaunty red sashes.
A grand fancy fuss all arranged.
How can I say no, I’ve changed my mind?
My friends in hotel rooms, now asleep, will think me a fool.
And the expense, the waste…
I could pull out, face the shame,
but I won’t.
I’m a coward.
I will get up and put that dress on.
I will do it.
I know I’ll rue it.
I am terrified of the dark, always have been.
It’s not surprising: at night, when we’re lying in our beds,
we’re on the far side of the sun, facing nothing,
just a void of empty above our heads.
No wonder we shiver and ask ourselves—
was that a thud, an intruder’s tread?
Consider our ancestors, those poor cave men and women,
the dark heaved with deadly danger for them.
The shadows beyond their camp fires seethed with threats--
threats that slithered and crawled,
threats with teeth and claws that were watching, waiting,
to snatch the weak-- the elders and the children.
Fear must have licked our ancestors’ veins.
It must have frozen and burned them.
Night time fear is inherited, a genetic linking.
It’s no surprise if we lie in bed listening,
resisting, trying not to let the darkness in.
I slip into the garden and stand to breathe.
Wet earth, flower and grass scented; the smell of home.
I walk around the flower beds and stop to smell the roses,
so sweet although autumn blown—assertive.
Around the side of the house so I can’t be seen, I kneel and ease up grass.
Pressing the blades to my face, I breathe.
A deep damp smell-- soil steeped in rain.
The scent fills me, it feels like tasting earth.
I stretch out on my belly, spread my arms and press my cheek down.
No one can see me here.
They love me, but they’d sneer.
“She’s got sentimental since she went away.”
“If she loves it so much, why won’t she stay?”
I lie still and breathe.
Leaves and branches sigh in a soft breeze, birds peep.
I long to dig my fingers down into my native soil; to spread strong roots,
but I always need to see what’s next, to gaze on other scenes.
I lift another clump of grass and rub it on my cheek.
Then hold the blades and breathe, just breathe.
Grass on skin-- a scent to carry with me.
I long to stay, but I can’t.