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Two Pairs of Keds

"One for dress, one for everyday."

Month

May 2015

This is War

On a good day, I’m a pacifist. On a bad day, I can swear like a sailor, but I’m against true violence.

On gardening day, I declare war.

Wait. That would imply I come armed. Does “liquid fence” count?

People have likened my backyard to a state park. This is kind. We employ wood chip paths, stumps for stools, and my wheelbarrow counts as garden art. Still, I am not willing to feed the park deer.

I can hear them right now. The wildlife is sending a group text: “She’s got tuberous begonias.”

Can you declare war on something when they don’t know there’s a conflict? Certain recent acts of violence in the news would make this appear so. Shooting people. Shooting people back. Shooting people in the back.

Maybe I should post a sign. Or a scent. Does liquid fence count as a red flag? What if the enemy can’t read…or see the signs?

I can’t really say I’m innocent in all this. There are days when I want to engage in conflict with people who don’t realize I’m angry. People driving with me on US 23. Students who send silly emails. My husband.

Furthermore, does a declaration of war on the part of one party necessarily engage the party of the second part? Do the deer have to acknowledge I’m at war with them? Does anyone?

I post these photos as evidence that I planted in good faith. I go on record that I did not intend for these plants to feed anyone, even brown-eyed, elegant mothers of Bambi. ┬áIf this happens, I will be really upset. Sometimes, I go out and buy new plants. But I’m declaring war right here and now.

Then what?

Garden 15 Garden 11 Garden 6 Garden 4 Garden 2Garden 6

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Wreck

You can’t move that fast and live.

You can’t weave in and out of people without leaving a wake.

You can’t ignore the laws of physics. Even if I can’t recite them,
I know them to be true.

Your speed does not reflect your importance. The width
of the lane is fixed and the lines don’t alter.

There is no one you need to reach so much
on the cloud
that you need to push buttons
without your hand on the wheel
or your eyes on the road.

Asphalt softens in the heat, but
that tolerance
will not soften the blow.

Where are you going, really, that your path,
your shuttling trajectory,
is any more signifiant than mine?

Why pass with inches to spare,
the space of feathers on angels’ wings?

Once, it only happens once, that your life is reflected
as a number on the highway billboard.
You won’t get another hand on the steering wheel.

Why wreck?

I would rather meet you at the next branch off
this thoroughfare. Wave at you, as you turn
into your neighborhood,
or your parking lot,
or take a place in metered parking.

You can’t
move that fast and live.

_________________________________

I drive to and from Ann Arbor everyday on US23, one of the most dangerous roadways in the beautiful state of Michigan, as a commuter. Tonight, a semi flipped on I-96, just before US23. I don’t know the fate of the driver. I do know that, on average, Michigan roads lose 2 drivers a day to fatality accidents.

Burn

One of the reasons for my faith is that I believe we are called to be light, that we were given a human manifestation of that light, and that the light cannot be put out by mankind. We are light.

But there are so very many ways to burn.

Some good friends of mine lost their house in a fire last night. Devastated. One, a pastor in Lansing, expressed thanks for family and friends and future. Their family, he said in a statement on their urban church’s website, will rebuild. He prays for families in Nepal, who lack means to recreate homes and whose families perished.

I feel a searing tear from my mother’s dementia, my father-in-law’s passing, from my husband’s incapacitation. While the first two are irreversible, the latter sparks and ignites feelings of frustration and resentment. Isn’t surgery supposed to move you forward, past swelling, pain that causes audible gasps, limping? Past coming home to a man in a chair without his pants on, wrapped in freezer packs, feeling the burn and bite of frost and ice?

The tendons in my own legs burn and stretch on humid days. It gives me a glimpse into my mother-in-law’s life and in my grandmother’s world.

This time of year makes my eyes burn. I don’t have allergies. I have a steady steam of tears from students who are leaving. If you haven’t worked in a teaching or academic space, you won’t know the bittersweet burn at the back of your throat when you say goodbye to these extraordinary people who have occupied space in your life. Were you light to them? They certainly were to you.

The lamp of knowledge kept me warm this winter, yet the end of a tough class left me snuffed out. I got a good (great, I guess) grade, but there was so much going on in my life, so many fires burning, I turned in a draft rather than my final edit. I didn’t reallize until I read the comments: “missing a conclusion.” Flash of embarassment and hot cheeks. I sent the correct copy with clarification that I wasn’t asking for a better grade, but for an acknowledgement that my research writing met my instructor’s high standards.

And like spark burns on a sweater you wear at a fire circle, there are holes in my life. I am remourning the loss of friends. I am uncertain where I stand and to whom I can turn.

My light is under a bushel.

Tonight, I decided to try to reignite through candle light in Episcopal worship, to walk deliberately into the light. I went there because I read a friend’s web-article about the wonderful weirdness that is ritual worship, especially as expressed in traditional ways, far from bright spots overhead and soaring guitar licks. I went to lick my wounds in the dark, seeking holy fire. I went to a church by the water, sun rays silver and gold over the pond.

Burned! I wound up in chapel with six strangers, myself included. Our voices formed the sacred phrases. I was the only surprised visitor. The worship presider (as termed in the program) is a young, black, gay man in Brighton. Talk about a flame. This conservative community has not snuffed him out. A rainbow flag waves splendor from the lawn.

In the little chapel, painted stars burn on a painted sky. Candles flicker. We are reminded, by the presider, that we are forgiven so that we can forgive, right there in that sacred space, and then move out to do for others. What have I done, lately? A shameful burn.

Oh, I know I’m a little depressed. I’ve been here before and I know the signs.

What I love, what I rely on, is the spark of hope within me. I didn’t put it there. It is divine and not of my making. My vespers prayer is that the flame is fanned. There is too much rampant halocaust and conflagration in our world. Not enough luminosity. Not enough glow.

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