The Purpose

You lock the door after you leave and try the knob again to be safe, wondering who invented locks in the first place and the purpose for having one on a door nobody opens or tries to open but you.  Now, what if at your car the keypad on the door failed to take the numbers in correctly and would not open, would you bash in the window or unlock your front door and call the Ford Dealership garage and ask for Eddie who changes your oil every three months to see about what could be done?  But the combination does work and you glide into the seat and slide into reverse and float back out of the drive to the iron gates on wheels into your private community.

            How about now if you had clipped on your sun visor the wrong remote control?

            Then when you pressed the button the door on your garage, the one that rolls up now instead of swinging out, the one with three tinted windows across the top and craftsman style trims, that door would roll up instead of the gated community’s gate rolling open.

            You study the remote on the visor, try to decide if to press it will leave your house open to intruders or open your way to take to the boulevard.  “If the gate doesn’t open,” you tell yourself, “then the garage surely has, and, in any event, if the gate doesn’t open, I should have to turn the Escape around and return for the right remote so that the gate will open then.”

            It’s true, the remote on the visor is the wrong remote for the gate doesn’t budge.

            Then it does.

            What if you hadn’t pressed that button a second time, given it that one extra try, gone back to find the garage door still closed, found that it would not open at all with the damned stupid remote?

            But you did.  And now the gated community gate has finished its retreat to the right and you have changed gears out of reverse to roll through.

            “There is a whole wide world waiting for us,” you say to no one in particular, unsure about what you mean by “us” but unwilling to correct yourself.  At least not out loud with the car windows down when cruising out on the boulevard.  There would be no good purpose in that.  None at all.  But you do wish you’d brought the list to remind you where you were going.  Was it the store?  And if so, what exactly was it you needed to pick up?

wc 406

[after W.S. Merwin, “The Answer” from The Book of Fables]


The Star Panther

There is a panther so large that when it walks the cosmos solar spots flare on earth’s sun and Mercury winces, grows fractionally smaller until the increase in heat dissipates and that planet can sigh with regained expansion.  In this cup of all universes it stalks gazelles behind stars.  Its belly rides close to the edges of Saturns by other names in other systems as it slinks toward its prey.  There are many such panthers deep in the systems prowling the stars, devouring gazelles for nourishment and each of them leaving their spoor just as the gazelles leave their vaporous gases-signs predators, in a long line of predators, live by.  The gazelles never sleep.  In due course they faint from unrest and as their legs drop from behind star cover the dark panther moves in to banquet upon what it has sought for a thousand days or years, surviving through lonely space on the termites shaken from comets as they passed him or her.  (There are truly more she panthers than he in the cosmos but they are so far beyond political correctness that such manners of speech go unnoticed.  And unsaid.)  They are lethargic, these panthers, when full and in their fullness is when gazelles flock to the most distant nebulae to mate and calf new springers and dancers to dash the great savannahs of heaven, leading the waking cats on spiraling journeys across silk clouds hung with rose damask and black velvet robes thrown off for the night by bears that no longer wear fur.  They maneuver space and around all objects in space as if traveling the same roads over and over again, never bumping an asteroid or stepping upon an Alp sprung from Venus with hooves that would rive the planet in half or split the ranges away into space to become another moon.  No.  The infant gazelles race owls in flight and laugh at panthers’ sly moves and stealth until their lives spin out.

            The hunt has gone on from the beginning.  Before gazelles the panthers stalked owls and before panthers the owls stalked the small furry mice of night.  These days you can hardly find one!  Theoreticians in some quarters of the cosmos surmise the increase in comet termites is due to the decrease in mice of the night.  There are dissenters, of course.  Of course there are dissenters.



[after reading W. S. Merwin’s “The Camel Moth” from The Book of Fables]


word count 412

Flight Time

The plane was half full out of Atlanta; I took the empty last seats on the wide side, stretched into a loose question mark across the three narrow spaces, and snoozed.  A  mark of my exhaustion – the 727’s take-off startled me out of sound sleep.  But  even as we climbed and my body rolled tighter to the seat backs, I drifted out of real time again and was gone.

Sorry! someone whispered loudly, that kind of whisper you want to be heard but not in a startling way.

Wha . . . are we there yet?


“New York?  La Guardia?” I was feeling my voice now.  It was me asking questions.  My mouth making sounds.  I knew then I’d drooled – a big wet spot on the back of my hand, the one I’d used to pillow my cheek.  If the voice, the stage whisper voice that sounded vaguely like Morgan Freeman and flannel shirts and Polo aftershave, if the voice, that voice, saw the drool … eu.  I didn’t open my eyes.

“We’re circling La Guardia,” the voice offered.  “There’s a full moon in a gossamer haze out the window on the right, and the Lady in the Harbor holding up her light on the left.” 

And I felt the lightest touch brush a loosed strand of hair from my face … then, I heard the absence of him.  Drool didn’t matter.  Or embarrassment.  I opened my eyes.  No one.  And no flannel scents to guide.

word count = 249

the loons are hushed

the loons are hushed
one after another
my heart pretends to sleep
     ~ M. Wilkie

The difficulty began when pretending stopped being fun and the loons, one after another, stopped laughing at dusk.  A particular stranger noted the silent pond, the frayed stars, a place in the shallows where the water was pink.  What made the stranger particular was his youth:  his long bones had not finished growing, freckles ruled his face, a cowlick ruled his hair.   

What made the water pink was paint, water-based paint, a gallon bucket tipped and run out like thick ink on the shore.   

He was the boy, this stranger with buckets of color, who might have been.   

Now the stars fray further, all but unravel over the pond gone entirely pink with fading day.  Wounds heal.  My heart pretends to sleep.