Oddments

In search of story


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June 15.21: Coping

The eye of the hare,

what jaundice hue,

therein hinted

a whole world view,

carrot-tinted,

gluttonous gleam,

taking measure

in pound and ream,

spying greens

and petals fair —

what was planted

no longer there.

A lesson life

has clearly taught:

know when your efforts

come to naught;

to try again is

laudable habit,

but not when competing

with the rabbit.

Let it go,

it wasn’t to be;

the garden this year

is plant cemetery.

 

Alas, dear reader, it seems not to be a year for a garden. Moss roses, daisies, marigolds, gauras, zinnias, lantana, even spiny rudbeckia — chomped. Dill? Parsley? In my dreams! What with the rabbits devouring my flowers and the cicadas dive-bombing me, I think this might be the summer I stay inside and clean my house. OK, you’re right: that’s not likely. But still I’m steamed.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg and to sculptor Jürgen Goetz, and to the rabbit that posed for Dürer’s drawing, thereby giving Goetz inspiration for his sculpture, glowering near Dürer’s house in Nürnberg. The gnarled hand under the hare is obviously the defeated gardener.

 


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June 12.21: Coping

What count today?

How many swings and swerves?

Is her language getting colorful?

Are we getting on her nerves?

Did you see my body slam?

Mid-forehead, perfect aim!

Well, I got her on her ear —

I love this summer game!

What sport her dodge and dip,

her crazed and darting eyes,

her twitch at our chorale

of razors in the skies.

I’ll race you to her head!

Come on! I double-dare!

The winner is the one

who gets tangled in her hair!

 

 


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June 4.21: Coping

Bassoonist in the pond,

tireless serenade,

accompanies the hours

from dawn through midnight shade.

In sunshine, gruff continuo

beneath the madrigal

of chirp and honk and buzz

in summer’s concert hall.

By moonlight, Shostakovich

in solo lullaby,

sandpaper to the ear,

yet weighty to the eye.

The fish in slow ballet,

the heron straight and still

attune themselves to tuneless

amphibian leaden trill.

Redundant though its song,

endless though it seems,

its hopeful constancy

all monotony redeems.

 

As you may recall, dear reader, frog song used to keep me awake,

and now it seems like an old comforter.

 

 


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June 2.21: Coping

I’m so little I can hide me

among the garden rocks,

I’m as welcome as a locust

and cute as chickenpox.

I wear a soft and furry coat

with cottontail behind,

but my heart is solid porcine

my ancestors all swine.

Chorus: Oh, engorgement!

I’m happy to my toes!

I’m coming for your garden

with a clover on my nose!

 

To be sung to the tune of “Oh, Susannah.”

With apologies for the foggy look:

I had to finagle a shot through the Venetian blinds again.

 


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May 31.21: Coping

I was born during World War II and do not pretend to remember the horrors. I do vaguely remember Tip Top.

My dad had a critical skills deferment because he worked for American Steel Foundries, which manufactured train parts, essential to the war effort. Those men worked long, long hours. With a purpose. He had two sisters, one in the Marines, the other in the WAVES; they had the same purpose.

Mom and Dad spoke of the get-togethers for friends who were on their way to serve, and who never came home. No one who remained home would pretend to be in the same situation as those in combat, but the ration books tell of shared purpose, which meant in some cases making meat loaf for six with Knox gelatin and a cup of chopped meat.

There has been copious bloodshed before and since, and it would seem our species is hell-bent on extinguishing itself. So we might grow numb to the dying. Maybe we already are numb.

Therefore, it’s wise to have a day to not be numb and to think deliberately of those who died to protect a way of governing that theoretically we value, and to ask if, here and now, in shared purpose, we would be willing to eat Knox Meat Loaf.

 


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May 27.21: Coping

EXITS

High school.

Do the words send you running? Or do you wistfully look back and linger?

I am not a reunion person. I go back only in my head, where I can be mid-century instantly, without having to see my senior picture again.

Those were manically formative years; our senior selves bore little resemblance to our freshman selves. Perhaps no other life storm, except a newborn, telescopes so much change into a short time.

My high school was built in 1914. My mother had walked those halls before me. Only the students changed. Then came 1967, the fire and renovations, and everything changed. So it’s a good thing I’ve kept the old school in my head, where time hasn’t touched it.

The main staircase — all three stories of it — was my favorite part. Each stair was worn in two places, where feet went up and where feet went down. Saddle shoes, penny loafers, all stepping to the bells.

This is that staircase, these the main doors. There would come a last opening outward and I couldn’t wait. I was so done with homework! And then, to my astonishment, I cried. At the last concert, the band president presented the traditional senior farewell gift to our saintly director, as I stood off-stage behind the curtains. And suddenly I sobbed. I was totally unprepared for that. To paraphrase a contemporary philosopher: What? Me miss high school?

But dust to dust, yes, dear reader? The building is about to become a parking lot for the educational Acropolis rising next to it.

My old classmate Ann says it was a dump when we were there, but I loved its oldness. Dark wood. Room numbers painted on transoms. Tall windows. Wood desks that never heard of ergonomics.

I find myself clutching certain memories more tightly because memories do reside in things. When the things are gone, will the memories also be gone? While walls stand, a little part of us can say it’s not over. It’s a nice deception. And then it’s a parking lot.

 

With thanks to photographer and classmate Art Lindeman.

Submitted to Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors Writing Challenge.

 

 


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May 9.21: Coping

The world’s a big place,

it can tucker you out

when you’re trying to figure

what it’s about.

That doesn’t change much

as we age through the years,

those grass blades of life

still up to our ears.

We still need a wing

for safe featherbed,

but sometimes we rest

on a memory instead.

 

I’m not a big fan of Mothers’ Day, dear reader. However, I am a fan of mothering because mothering gets us started in life.

There are many who are not biological mothers but are mothers nonetheless. I salute every one, and I wish a happy day to all who mother.

On a more (typical) curmudgeonly note: you know, dear reader, I hate these geese; I do not thrill to see another generation. It is only with pained reluctance I am forced to say this snoozing fuzzball is maybe a little bit cute.