Monday, March 25, 2013

She Would Wear Red


She would wear red; he had always loved her in red…

She thoughtfully studied her naked reflection in the mirror. Objectively, she confirmed that the hours she had spent in the gym had paid off. Her tall slender body had the taut stomach and firm muscles of a much younger woman.  Pushing the curtain of sleek auburn hair behind her ear, she considered her face. Pale but for the spots burning high on her cheeks, she was a lovely woman. Her skin was smooth. Her deep-set eyes were wide and still a deep blue. She would admit to the laugh lines that were appearing in their corners and the profound sadness that was not normally there.

 Red…definitely red, she thought. She would wear red for him, this one last time.

She stood, elbows akimbo, fisted hands planted firmly on her hips as she surveyed the room. It was awash in a sea of scarlet. It had taken most of the morning but she had finally selected each crimson piece of the outfit she would wear that afternoon.

“ I promise Hon, It will only be for a few days.  I’ll be back in time for our anniversary,” he had said.  

She watched her hand, as it smoothed the scarlet tint onto her cheeks, onto her pale lips, noticing each time the mirror caught the light shards that winked off of her diamond.
“Make reservations at our special place and wear that red dress I like so much.” He had said. You know how much I love you in red.”  

She chose a simple suit that hugged her curves and plunged at the neckline.  In her cleavage nestled a teardrop shaped ruby pendent. The ruby pulsed as she breathed and her spiked heel’s staccato sounded in counterpoint as she crossed the room and stared into the mirror. What she saw pleased her.

He was at Morgan’s Rest. One of the last antebellum homes left after the war. The aged red brick was dark against the stark white of the columns. The imposing double doors loomed before her. With an unsteady hand, she pushed the door open and stepped over the threshold. The only sound, her heels tapping as she moved across the marble foyer.   The banister felt cold under her hand as she climbed the curving staircase to the second floor.  

There was a deep stillness in this place; the thick carpet muffled even her footsteps, as she walked delicately down the hall.  Listening, she heard faint music coming from one of the rooms. She walked to the door and taking in a deep breath, turned the doorknob and entered the room.  Here, the windows where draped in heavy curtains. None of the afternoon light penetrated the shadows. The room’s only illumination came from the soft light of two trumpet shaped lamps and the fireplace’s dying embers.

She saw where he lay.  His eyes closed, appearing to be in deep sleep.  She fought back the tears that threatened and walked to where he rested.  Resisting an urge to brush a lock of hair from his forehead, she gazed down at his dear face.  Slowly reaching into her crimson bag she felt for the small revolver.  Grasping the gun she drew it from her purse and gently placed the barrel on the spot of his forehead where the stray lock of hair lay.

At the touch, his eyelids flew open, realization flooding into them. He spoke her name as she squeezed the trigger. The gunshot reverberated in the small room, making her ears ring.  The warm blood spewed out, splashing bright red across the burgundy duvet and the figure that moments ago lay cuddled at his side. She was as exquisite as she knew she would be, her rumpled blond hair swirled around her naked breasts and her soft doe eyes were rapt on the high-heeled figure watching her. 

With one swift movement the scarlet clad arm raised the gun and pulled the trigger, one last time.


Monday, March 18, 2013

“Your shopping cart is empty.”

“Your shopping cart is empty.”

That was because she had removed five pairs of shoes and a pair of lace-up boots, one item at a time from her shopping cart.  This was like window shopping used to be—but better.  She looked through hundreds of pairs of shoes on the Zappos site and she picked out the most outlandish ones that would suit the imaginary person she was pretending to be that day.

Today she was someone almost like herself, but just a little more daring and a decade or two younger.  Lace up snow boots from Converse All Stars and some summer sandals that sparkled gold and some that were platform clogs.  She remembered that in the mid-70's her cousin Charlotte twisted her ankle falling off her platform shoes.  Hah!  She had had a pair of platforms that she loved back then.  When she wore them, she was nearly 6 feet tall.  But she could not move fast in them.  They created a kind of self-inflicted handicap.

These days when she saw young women teetering along on 5-inch heels, she thought to herself, “You damned idiot!  When you are 60, your back is so going to regret those shoes!”  The other day when she was with her grandchildren at Wonderlab, she saw a little girl who was maybe 8 or 9 years old dressed like a sexy adult.  She was clomping around on high heeled boots.  They made the little girl’s butt stick out and pulled her whole spine out of whack and made her have to almost run to keep from pitching forward off her shoes.  She wondered where that child’s parents were and if she could call CPS on them.  She asked her husband, “Why don’t they just bind her feet?  Christ, those shoes are damaging that child’s feet and back!  What the hell is wrong with people?”  Her husband didn’t bother answering.

This memory made her so bummed that she exited the Zappos site.  Wacky shoes seemed stupid now and the game was ruined.  At least for today.

Veda for the Poplar Grove Muse

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pondering Paradox

Paradox of Our Time
By Dr. Bob Moorehead--often mistakenly attributed to George Carlin
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

 We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much,and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
 We've conquered outer space, but not inner space; we've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we've split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less; we plan more, but accomplish less.
 We've learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals;we have more food, but less appeasement; we build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we've become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality,one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology has brought this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference, or to just hit delete...
BEFORE you delete…
There's no making it go away is there?  For those of us who long for a neat universe of absolutes, right or wrong, paradox is simply a fact of human existence.  Confounding to many who simply choose not to addle their brains with what ‘s so hard about living with contradictory truth, for others, it’s the work of a lifetime to figure out first what it IS and then find a path toward integrating it in hopeful and productive ways.     
What happens on the day any of us wake to our world of paradoxes and then says: “Well, it’s strange, isn’t it.  I see that my numbness to our numbness contributes to the stuck-to-deteriorating effects of my, our, ALL THESE paradoxical problems.  But you know what, I cannot accept that we’re losing the confidence of future generations. I don’t wish a “world going under” on my children. I don’t wish it for myself. 
So how can I speak honestly with myself about how to align myself with my deepest values? How can I live this in an undivided way? How can I join the conversation of the multiplicity of views out there to make a difference? How can I take an even more visible public stand along the way?  Do I want to?  Is it too hard?”
In my small world, a world much defined by family, a small number of close friends, a small business that makes it its business to gather people in circles to read poems, write what’s true for us, entertain the big questions in simple yet profound ways, we find ourselves challenged to move beyond questions of right and wrong, stand in the unknown, invite curiosity, joy, and engage in conversations with ourselves and one another.
Humility. Risk. Goodwill. Compassionate ears and hearts. Seeing and untangling our own contradictions.  Accepting ambivalence, incongruity as part of the truth of the human condition. Learning calm in the face of ambiguity. Undertaking this with others in community.  All of this is helpful.   
Easy, right?  Wrong.  It’s a lot of work once you wake up to what you cannot turn away from any longer.  It’s easy to say “enjoy the ride more than being right”.  “Be present to the process.” Or “embrace your brokenness”.  If I can use the analogy of un-numbing, let’s not forget that frozen feet or fingers hurt like crazy as they thaw out.  
 Crud.  I hate pain.
 My reading and writing of late takes me to another turn on my own spiral path on behalf of deeper consciousness. I want to hope for a better world. I have to change in order to make my contribution(s) more meaningful.    Brave and terrified. Funny and sad. Emboldened and shy. I am both wise and clueless.
 There’s something important here about being fundamentally willing to be shifted ourselves as we walk the paradoxical road. 
 Maybe it’s easier than I imagine.  On the other hand… 
BLR  for the Poplar Grove Muse