Spring wallflowers

(click image to read note)

As spring warms the hemisphere, people paralyzed by winter’s dark and cold now ease into movement, including depressed people. Bleak inner life and the newly pulsating rainbow of plants outside form a sour contrast, and the more vibrant flow of blood gives some the strength to act: suicides peak in May and June.

This spring I found a note by the river. The water rushed and rose up its sandy edge, full of demanding energy, and I could not walk past without stopping to bask. The paper was folded in quarters and slipped between the boards of a park bench where homeless people sleep when it is snowing, swaddled in thin sleeping bags.

A little release, a little shout, poem, question, inelegant, referential, young, assertive, testing. Yet assuming a friend.

I went home and listened to the song it spoke of: the Smiths’ “Sing me to sleep.” Pictured hundreds of solitary teenagers in American bedrooms cultivating a self-image of moody misery, Morrissey intoning on repeat, a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower on the floor. Some are serious, some sorta, some not. So which is she?

Lately I’m aspiring to become, like a famous pilgrim, “unstuck in time.” (Vonnegut, another literary reference– though what was hers? I couldn’t find it…) I’m more tender, awake, slow, open, and loving when I shake off time and control for even a short while. That kind of shedding has much to do with death, the death of the little self. A friend died snorkeling amid a symphony of colored fish off the coast of Hawai’i last week; rest in peace, Ed. Another fell from a roof in California while installing solar panels; peace be with you, Hans. Contemplating these deaths makes such a practice even more welcomed and needed.

Dear Friend, nobody else has to go for us to become awake together. Easier said than done… but it can be done.

To the poet

I can see that you’re sitting there, pretending to read the paper, fantasizing about me. About my piercings and tattoos and how you could please me by buying me patchouli and fresh local irises and shiitakes. You would rent a loft and have me move in and life would be sunlit and candlelit by turns. I’d be an easy catch, late thirties and still pouring coffee and toasting bagels. But maybe you don’t imagine that I have two children? One with a learning disorder? A live-in sister? Psoriasis? You know as well as I do that even if I hadn’t, we wouldn’t spend the rest of our lives making love on the futon. Anyway, you’re not my only gazer: there’s the Swedish human rights attorney, and the bass player with the houseboat, both at least ten years younger, I might mention. Does someone pay you to write dreams in your notebook, to stare through the steam of your half-caf? What’s behind your glut of down time? My life’s bound up, all hours, with ties most folks can’t see. And all my dreams are free.