A poem from the book “Portrait of a Stained Glass Life”.
From “Portrait of a Stained Glass Life” – Part 1 now online
An excerpt from “Final Resting Place”.
My body violently jerks out of sleep. Like in the movies when you see someone wake up in a dream. It’s never happened to me before.
It’s happening right now and I feel it — perhaps the strangest sensation I have ever experienced. My body rises out of bed and makes its way to the downstairs back door as if being controlled remotely.
My body senses the disconnect and tries to kick into gear — catching up to current movement — but it can’t. It feels like I’m tripping and I hate that sensation. I don’t let it take over this time. This is meant to happen — don’t fight it.
I arrive at the back door as it swings open — the backyard is visible through tunnel vision and everything outside the radius is blurred. Tunnel vision — like the depression sometimes.
Refocus. This is beyond me and my thoughts. However, this dream is more informative than the others.
Even now, my thinking takes over. I stop and just wait, the expanse of the green before me. The backyard trees form a dark canopy gently lit by the dim moon. Just enough to see directly in front of me. Then something from the far right corner comes into view.
My hesitation almost tears me away, but I stay. Accept it.
And who approaches — none other than Buddy, the neighbor’s dog. He is not floating though, his pace is quicker and purposeful. He comes and sits about ten feet before me. His eyes are wide open and his mouth appears to be smiling — almost. He sits there for me simply to enjoy his presence. A joyous feeling takes over.
And almost as quickly as he appears — it’s over.
“The world’s trash and mutts – the whole lot of them, in ships every day by the dozen.” – Matilde H. Journal Entry (est. 1880) recording of an overheard comment during passage to an American port (NYC). German Immigrant – 16 at the time of passage. Traveled alone.
Or, personal labels I am comfortable with – by Matilde H. (1883)
My sense of beauty is Italia,
simple yet bold.
pragmatism of Deutschland
thoughtful and structured
attitude towards others of France
laissez-faire but curious
passion of Scotland
misunderstood yet strong
presence of England
conservative and reserved
pace of España
relaxed with meaning
purpose of Ireland
complicated and symbolic
surroundings are Kongeriket Norge
filled with peaceful tranquility
I do not love them,
Nor hate them.
I am with them.
A 20-pound ball of empathy –
he is one of our marvelous creatures.
Has anything ever held a mirror up to your humanity
like an animal that loves or
an animal that fears?
we have served each other’s purpose.
They are bred in our reflection
mutts at the core, wanting to be truly known,
begging for nourishment –
*Chase — otherwise known as booter, booter-butt, chicken butt, or boo boo
He sits on his folded legs, 3 feet from the large stand bubble that practically dwarfs his little body. The large expanse of a room consumes them both.
He is excited. The MTV is on and he knows his odds are about 1 in 4 that the new Tina Turner video will be coming on shortly. He has deliberated – and there will be no touching of the actual tv this time or getting too up close, this time he wants a pan of every single glass tube end. Maybe he could record it in his head better that way.
And then it happens just as he knew it would.
Tina is over for another brief visit. But she is even more mesmerizing than before and those vibes begin quickly — with a high intensity that will quickly subside, but stay long enough to leave a slightly deeper impression that eventually will need to be filled.
In front of him, she is shaking and strutting, he is hypnotized by this “dance”? The hair. The voice. Those legs. Is this expression!? How you can be?
Where do you learn this?
Certainly not at school.
Not even at the local skating rink. That’s why he never skates much – too busy watching.
Like right now – but today she has a message for him as well. He knows to pay attention because she keeps on repeating it – and it forces him to open his ears a little more.
What’s that Tina? That question you are asking – “Whats love got to do with it”?
Has a better question ever been asked? What does love have to do with it? With any of it at all? Another question he can add to the running list.
At that moment, he discovered his first expert. His first “expression” expert. He will meet many more experts in the years to come – all of them having valuable lessons to teach.
However, first – he must tackle the complicated world of gender roles as exhibited in the American domesticated house pet – cats and dogs in particular.
We Came to Rest
and my monster followed closely behind,
out here in the December air;
Is this it?
Did the night air just speak to me?
The fullness of her light is dancing as the wisps of vapor energy float by –
a gradient drop of the pressure in the air.
Unfreeze my heart,
Have we located the
final resting place?
Something feels closer.
I feel it more so every day.
A Small Glitch Appears In Utero
A nuchal cord was wrapped around my neck 3 times when I was a fetus inside of my mother’s uterus. After discovering this on the sonogram during a final pre-labor exam, the doctor decided to enact emergency labor, as he was concerned the cord might restrict the flow of oxygen to my tiny brain – perhaps rendering me with some sort of lasting brain damage.
Although it may sound ominous from the first pass, this type of incident is not all that uncommon during pregnancies and depending on the severity of the knot, is usually fairly benign – in fact, some studies claim it occurs in about 1/3rd of births in any given year in the U.S.
And like my own delivery, most occur without incident, as the baby is removed, and the cord simply cut. As you can imagine, the ordeal caused some unneeded stress for my mother.
She reflects on it with a mildness today, but I can imagine this must have shot her nerves – unless she has completely changed since then. Doubtful.
Similar to myself, she is prone to worry – a chronic over-thinker. However, the focus of our anxiety tends to be different; hers on close loved ones and mine tend to be a bit more selfish in nature.
Looking back, I wonder if this incident had any effect on shaping her view of me as her youngest child. Did it make her more protective or more prone to worry about me? I remember her doing plenty of both growing up – incessantly at times.
Did this first glitch set off a domino effect of others – or was my fate sealed even before then?
Do you know this little boy? While standing in the line to have a picture taken with Santa, this little boy’s mom asked me to take his picture. But, I don’t know her! I forgot I had the picture until coming across it yesterday.
I believe he is new here and very shy. It seems like every time I see him, he is wearing that colorful sweater!
If you don’t know him, could you kindly give it to the office secretary? If I give it to Caitlyn (sp?) to hold, I’m afraid it will end up in Russia!
Thank You –
I have zero recollection of any of this little Santa Clause setup, but I can tell you one thing.
I do recall that my mother “ghosted” that ugly yellow sweater from my laundry a few months after this photo was taken.
This was a practice wherein my mother would sneakily discard (steal) certain items of clothing because I would continually wear them, sometimes day after day.
One day it would be – wa-la! Joe has two brand new (more earth-toney) sweaters – magically hanging in the closet – or a new blue pair of tennis shorts to replace the purple that I originally favored – or whatever other articles of clothing needed replacing.
Since I craved predictability as a child, incidents like this might botheredme for a bit, but I eventually got over it and realized that yes – sometimes things need to be discarded instead of over-used, for the sake of public appearances.
One of those “pride” things I had no interest in, or time for since I just wanted to be comfortable and left alone to think about something.
I Wish I Had My Mask On
An old common and tired refrain.
A Lullaby for the Restless
Most likely because I am awful
at misunderstandings in general,
self-promotion in particular.
On my own schedule to a fault.
Your circadian rhythm –
My cirCANT-ian rhythm
The body resists even the most primitive form of authority.
I need a process for my days, hours, minute bursts of focus.
And yes, some conformity is necessary — that much I now know.
(connections are a consequence of deep focused thought. The connections are made carefully, to the degrees most probable. But I must better express my line of thinking to others — as they will be more likely to see.
I often even forget to put (the) in front of sentences that need them.)
a bridge for me
to the other side of self-exploration, I desperately need.
This is a tribal calling card –
your collaboration is wanted, now more than ever.
Please forgive all the errors,
they will soon be rewarded.
She is Marlena, widow of James. Born in Germany. Former biology researcher.
In my stealthy way, I stole her name from the mailbox and draw it out like a 5-year-old learning to spell. Phonetically. Doing this makes me realize how beautiful I find the name. A few google searches supplied the additional bio.
Why does this sound familiar? This is a name I can remember — usually the hard part. I’m still the only person I know who gets excited about meeting someone for the sake of their name. Still- something makes me more curious about her than I am typical of strangers. I cannot pinpoint it. But she is a neighbor just mere seconds away. Maybe an interesting new person to get to know?
When I feel better — my curiosity tends to get the best of me. Which might explain the google searches as well. So far — I am intrigued enough to keep digging. I’ve learned some basic background information thus far.
She slowly strolls back and forth on our circular street, allowing her small dog to lead the way.
Her bust appears “German” to me, angular and sort of cropped, very neat. She looks extremely competent and very sad — also tall. She must be 6′,0″ with a straight body, like an arrow. I’d estimate she’s in her late 60’s or early 70’s.
A simple sophistication exudes her and interests me. I’ve seen her through the downstairs window, and have been “engineering” an opportunity to cross her path.
A very foreign type of behavior for me. I have also got to meet that little dog.
He reminds me of a mix between Alf from the late 80’s tv show and the Downy Snuggle Bear. There is a new dog and I am 6 years old all over again.
By “happenchance”, I approach the mailbox as she nears one late morning. The dog leads her to me in excitement and he’s as friendly in person as he appears from inside. He is Buddy — Marlena’s loyal and sole companion, now that Jim has passed.
She is also warm, but painfully shy. I see and understand the nuance immediately.
We exchange a few words and have a pleasant if albeit short exchange. I feel relieved to have made the extra effort and return to the house with a yearning to learn more.
Should I invite her over for coffee or tea? Is that still an actual thing or will that set off alarm bells? Honestly, I do not know — these types of things dumbfound me occasionally. To display interest in others, I have become accustomed to using the “like” feature on apps such as Instagram and Twitter. Coffee would be a big step forward and luckily, my Keurig takes care of the mechanics of coffee brewing.
I never take actions like this, as my hesitant nature typically gets the best of me, especially with newness. That nagging doubt — that cannot be rationalized or pushed away. I can fight it but it still remains, lingering — always.
I need to understand it better. I must.
Our paths cross a few more times over the next few weeks in a similar fashion — always pleasant yet brief.
A slow fall Saturday provides a good enough excuse to perform some yard cleanup. Workers from the highway transportation office recently cut back a sizeable portion of the brush that borders our property — an ongoing effort to curb roadside accidents involving the growing whitetail population.
Now, besides the sizeable leaf accumulation — many branches and other debris remain from their recent work.
Our neighbor from across the street, Janet (Nathaniel Farrington’s eldest daughter, now into her 70’s and living directly across the street) notices us and drops by for a brief visit.
After our casual goodbyes, as an almost afterthought, she informs us that our other neighbor Jim recently passed after a third and fatal stroke. Apparently, his wife will now occupy the large yellow house diagonal to ours — alone I assume.
The fact that I met someone only weeks from their death strikes me as oddly fascinating and sad.
This wife is a complete mystery to me. Not that I spend much time investigating the neighbors. The earth here tends to take most of my spotlight these days.
This oasis of flora and fauna holds a very natural New England beauty and sends me daydreaming inside a Walt Whitman poem.
And the animal population — especially the whitetail deer and turkeys, make frequent appearances in our backyard searching for food and shelter.
Perhaps they visit to escape the sanctioned bow-hunts in the larger reserve area; a periodic attempt to thin a burdensome whitetail population. I welcome them and enjoy the chance to view them up close, as they forage nearby — preferably not in our already cursed garden.
Day breaks over the Great Blue Hill of Massachusetts as the low and heavy rumble of large excavating equipment fills the surrounding air.
The equipment is clearing the path for the first section of interstate 93 — the newest planned addition to the national highway system. Once complete it will be the first located entirely within the borders of New England.
The interstate will intersect the large and open base area of the hill, the largest in a range encompassing the Blue Hills reservation — and straddles the towns of Canton, Milton, Quincy, Randolph and Braintree among others.
Here in Canton (population 7,000) will sit the first on/off ramp “exit” and will connect with Interstate 95 snaking up the east coast through Providence. Then on to Boston Harbor (11 miles from here as the hawk flies) and winding points north in New Hampshire, Maine, and eventually ending 190 miles to the east and north in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
A group of 6 small family owned farms now dot the landscape, all to be demolished in preparation for the construction — just 3 of the family farmhouses are deemed lucky enough (and structurally sound) to be relocated.
Currently, the final remaining farmhouse is being placed on a tractor-trailer rig after being separated from its foundation. The simple white farmhouse constructed in 1921 sat upon a 10-acre parcel and nicely sheltered a small family of 3.
The Farrington Family of Canton.
Some forethought was given to their plight via the creation of the Blue Hills nature reserve and an underground passageway allowing for safer animal passage from the hill into its relatively flat outer base —especially vital to the rather large population of whitetail deer, who often forage the greater area for food and shelter.
In approximately 10 minutes, it will begin hovering 216 yards due east to a slightly elevated resting position.
This area and the greater Neponset River Valley is rich in natural beauty and home to a diverse wildlife population. As with any infrastructure project of this scale, the natural inhabitants of this area will also be displaced.
There are things right in front of us
that I simply
More than just a cool sounding tone
(let’s see how much of the natural sunlight I can suck out of this photo….)
I Was Really Bad at Photography Before I Became Any Good
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