Day 27: Not Normal

If it wasn’t for the news I could believe this was a normal day in April.  

The sun is lower now, a quick glance at the clock and confirm 5:11 p.m. Most families will be off the trail, heading home for dinner.  It’s a good time for a walk around the lake.  

Coming up and around the southern end of the trail, I see them.  Hundreds of young thistles standing like soldiers, their singular three-pointed leaf faces worship the bright lake. It isn’t the dark moggy brown water it sees, but the sun.  The sun lights the surface of the lake white, tricks the young and I ask myself, “Does it matter? ”

A murder of four walks towards me, “Children there’s a person.  Put your masks on…” A bike races between us without ringing its bell.  It’s OK, we all saw it coming. The family shuttles pass, the bike zooms away and once again I am alone with the trees and the wide path.  I could sing, no one could hear me—the woods are that thick, but I don’t. 

Sitting at the west side park bench I notice the date on the dedication plaque installed squarely in the ground.  Dedicated to a gentleman born a month before my birthday, exactly, but died in 2002. I wonder, “What was I doing in 2002?” My mind is blank.  All I can think about are the ducks on the lake. Where are their nests?  

A chuckle of college kids is at the beach laughing at death.  Their loud vapor spreading voices travel across the water for the whole park to hear.  That is what still water does. All of these people at the lake, trying to be safe while getting some fresh air and this loud pack acting like its a normal day.  

 

My mood illustrated in meme.  -Be well, Shannon

 

Vignette: Mimi’s Closet

The fabulous Iris Apfel. Like Iris, Mimi, my grandma, wore large framed glasses and chunky jewelry. Unlike Iris, who shared many of her secrets, my grandma kept hers close to her heart.

 

Mimi’s Closet

by Shannon P. Laws

 

The door at the end of the long hall stands open
The third bathroom is in there
Sent to the room by my mother’s voice
busy behind the door of the second
common bathroom, the guest bathroom
Go use Mimi’s
I obey

The faint gold light
from a bedside lamp whispers
as I step twice into the space
Her closet door is open, just a little
Moving toward the closet my arm reaches out
to feel inside
to find her secrets

These are her uniforms
her suits of clothes and character
Rich hand-me-downs with East Coast labels
—meant to impressed me, even at 13

I am too far, too deep, too close to the truth
my ears give a quick check
All family members are engaged
in after dinner conversation
at the other side of the house
No footsteps in the hall
I can quickly look
touch a few
view the hieroglyphs
decipher the ridges
in her shoes

A shriveled fox head snaps at me
with sunken eyes from the top of a fur wrap
I sense the ghost of a guard
standing attention blocking me from the
colors, textures that hang in the back just out of reach

My bladder and a toilet flush down the way
remind me why
I’m there

Use the bathroom
then leave
don’t touch anything
mind your business

As I turn to capture one last look
I see her desk
a round breakfast table
paired by two chairs
with woven wood backs
Yellow chains of jewelry, keys, papers
laid out with books and pens
There’s a tube TV, two large leather jewelry boxes
on the long low dresser in front of the bed between
two dark lamps
Under the bed, I spy boxes of canned soup

Who gets all this when she’s dead?
My aunts will consume anything of value
Strangers at the Goodwill get the rest

 

 

#

Poem: As an Old Man Who Sleeps Standing Up

Dorothea Lange man leaning against vacant store
Photo credit: Dorothea Lange, Man leaning against vacant store

His eyes close

As if he prays

Corners of his mouth

Move as a young cat

Dreams of suckling

Does his faith send a

Request to his god

Or does he dream.

A tear falls from the

Outside corner

Lands on his collar

No—it’s sweat,

A drop from his hair.

Old man is like a babe

Resting in a crib

Constructed by days

Of hard labor

Hammered by nights

With jarred hooch