Squawk!

Happy Valley- a poet walks among you!  She walks down the middle of your streets in search of a coffee house that opens at 7—preferably one that has blueberry scones…

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Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, 1966

Last few weeks my inner dialogue seems to have a Wheeling Virginian cigar hanging out the corner of its mouth, almost as if I am internalizing a Clint Eastwood character from a 1960’s spaghetti western.  This dialogue surfaces as a distaste for sidewalks apparently.

My urban bird watching continues to provide rewards.  This morning I took a right on 17th and saw a collection of Steller’s  Jays sitting on the corner of a low rooftop chatting away.  It was about 6:45 in the morning and I imagined they were having a bird meeting about bugs, feeders and crows.  Two of the birds looked smaller than the other three.  Are they young-lings getting trained?  What surprised me the most about this conversation was the low volume.  Steller’s are known for their loud “SQUAWK!” The kind of squawk that can wake you out of a nap, bring your shoulders up in a cringe, and your finger to involuntarily enter your ear in an attempt to protect the lobe.  It’s an annoying sound.  The bird’s feather mohawk fits the personality perfectly.  They thrash about the stage of any backyard bird feeder violently tossing seeds all over and chasing the other birds away—a real punk of the bird community.  Yet here they are, five of them, quietly chatting away making little gargle sounds and tapping their beaks together in salutations.

Around the corner three crows sit on a wire quietly eavesdropping.  Bird espionage.

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“SQUAWK!”

Later today I am attending my cousin’s funeral.  Family on my dad’s side is flying in.  There is an old joke about us Irish-types: we suffer from Irish Alzheimer’s, we only remember the grudges.

This morning after four days of anxiety, I’m different, peaceful, after my walk.  In the past I felt like a boxer getting into the ring prior to a family get-together …not today.  My mind makes a connection between these birds and the family.  The childhood stereotypes of each family member squawks at me.  However childhood memories are distorted by time.  Even our mind’s eye remembers event at the low angel of a 12 year old.  Adults are bigger than life!  Old memories, we all have of some variety, knit themselves deep into our hearts.  Every so once-in-a-while a box of yarn, cut up, knotted up and tangled, is dropped off at our doorstep demanding to be segregated and deciphered.  Who did what to who, and who’s to blame?

Fuck that.  Don’t take the bait.

Today as I travel into Anacortes with my brother, in our funeral attire, I leave my tangled box of yarn at the door.  I will approach my family, especially the ones I haven’t seen in decades, with fresh eyes and “quiet” conversation.  We have all changed in one degree or another.  The fabric of our hearts are knitted by natures stitch.  The natural bond of family is greater than the artificial polyester strings of misunderstandings and hate.

I love my family.

Squawks and all.

HEART-SHAMROCK

 

 

Poem: Fort Builder

I am a fort builder of cushions and sheets
I stole the plywood from the garage and nailed it to the tree

I am the girl who spattered lavender paint on her new jeans for school
I am that one

I am that girl who made extra money picking berries,
babysitting, and watching cats

I was that girl who carried her gaming marbles
in a purple velvet Crown Royal bag at recess

I am the fourth grade girl who, it was rumored, picked up
Rodney Grange over her head and threw him down the hill

I am the girl who endured long Sunday drives
second hand smoking with you and Paul Harvey

I am the girl who walked with you around the muddy edge of Doyle Pond
It’s soft cat-tailed ground rewarded us with leaches

I am the girl who watched you deal pills of all colors
in between our classes from your locker next to mine

I am that girl who had no cliques to sit with at 8th grade lunch
I sat at crowded tables in 9th
I found stairs outside to eat on in 10th
I drove off campus in 11th
I no longer cared in 12th

I was that girl who wore her gray leather boots everyday

I am that girl you shared stolen apricot brandy with
at an Auburn dance club parking lot one night

I was that girl you had between the ones you wanted
That neighbor girl you thought you had to trick to touch

I am the girl who builds forts

***