Monthly Archives: February 2009

road trip


I headed toward Dallas this weekend, not expecting to encounter memories. There’s a wide open swath of land where a road numbered 287 branches west toward Waxahachie and Fort Worth, and at the sight of that sign, my heart squeezed, and I remembered more than ten years ago when my son was in the car behind me, and we were taking him to his first year of college. I remembered how before we left he had walked through the rent house we were living in for a last look “just in case,” and indeed I had moved by the following Christmas. 

And the crisp coolness of Dallas means bulbs flower prolifically, and I was taking an innocent walk and came across a yard of daffodils and was pierced through the heart again with a memory of my sister, Carmen. She died in February when her Arkansas yard was filled with daffodils moving toward blossom. This is what I wrote once to try and capture her loss:

From the page I can draw tears, hard hearts break on my words, droplets stalagmite in readers’ bone caves, bravo they say to me. In my garden, leaves green, the yet unborn flowers will be bold yellow and soft. My sister loved daffodils, planted a yard of them she would never see. Green healing. I think I want no more grief from which to prosper.


Ruby’s valentine

What price love?

The first time we heard it, we said, “What is that?” It was the sound of something wooden being bumped against the floor, like someone advancing toward us on a wooden leg. Now, it’s familiar–it’s Ruby dragging her lovey toward  us. 


Her first lovey was a little pink fluff ball that you stuck against something. I wuv u, it said on its little jutting tag. Tasha, the other cat, stole it off my computer one fine day, and Ruby adopted it, and my husband taught her to fetch it. But Pinkie got lost, and we didn’t pay much attention to Ruby’s new interest in a cat fishing pole with a wooden handle. We’d sorta kinda notice that she had dragged it to the food bowl, where she and Tasha store things they love, but we didn’t attach much significance to it.

Now an evening isn’t complete unless at some point during the evening news we hear Ruby dragging the fishing pole, or Baby, as I call it, to us. She always brings it to the threshold, drops it, and then and only then joins the rest of us in our news fix. I find Baby all over the house, in the bedroom hallway, in my office, and of course in the kitchen at the food bowl. Sometimes Ruby has dropped its rag/ribboned head into the water bowl, another sign of her great affection toward something she loves.

Pinkie used to be baptized regularly with Ruby’s enduring tenderness.

deep blue sea

A friend and I were talking recently about love. About our failures. tulipAnd we agreed that it was because we weren’t able to love. That we went in expecting to be admired, approved of, paid attention to. If that met our unconscious requirements, all was well. If it didn’t––well. I never paid attention to the spiritual. When I was young, I just wanted to love and be loved by another. But when I say love, I had a boundary. I went as far as he went. Seldom further. It took me a long time to realize that another could not be all. That he would fail, make mistakes, be afraid himself. My friend and I have decided that a wonderful goal for our old age is to grow our hearts. 

A haiku from Houston’s windy, overcast, wonderfully mild winter day….

wind high, gong ringing,

pulling me deeper into

the heart’s deep blue sea

the sound of the bell

dsc_3233I saw a movie so fresh and exciting, so painful and thrilling, so inspiring and full of hope, that I think it’s going to blow Hollywood out of the water at the end of the month and win best picture as well as best music. It’s Slumdog Millionaire. The sights of India, the evils of India, the beauties of India are all jumbled together in a plot that twists an exciting now––a young man from the slums, called a slumdog because that’s how children survive, like homeless dogs––who can win a million dollars if he answers every question. And every question has its answer in his past. 

To see children climbing mountains of trash and being exploited in ways that are indescribable made me so uncomfortable I wanted to leave. It also made me ashamed of the fat, white bread life I live and any small complaint I might have about it. And I was reminded that there is nothing virtuous about poverty. It’s a trap, it’s a grinding killer of spirit, it’s a spin of the karmic dice that only the lucky survive. 

And I was reminded of how our world is expanding. This point of view, this world we peer into, is so far from our streets and our lives, yet we impact them as they impact us. What does John Donne say: no man is an island. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee. The sound of the bell is reaching out farther and farther.

The story of the making of this movie is also inspiring. It seems to be that time right now, a moving over for the slumdogs and the mutts.