Birthday Streamers

Arising on a sculptured cliff

Expecting the cool embrace of my familiar

As she had welcomed me the day before with

A misting flutter through cypress branches.

Yet, pulling back the curtains,

A clear day dawns with

Pink, yellow, and orange along the horizon

Like Birthday Streamers

Reflecting in waves splashing peninsula rocks.

Surrounded by whistles and chirps,

Frogs sing in their creek while

Monarchs and bees call among

Pride of Madeira and Indian Paintbrush:

All the world will celebrate

And say you are loved

If you listen.

Between Earth and Sky

Pour your rain upon me

Until my rivers swell

And creeks appear on every path

Race through my forests

With your gusts and gale forces

Fell the dead towers

That no longer serve me

And stand in the way of our

Evolving Dance

Crash them onto my soft, supple body

And I will transform them into new life

While we sing of our union

Our balance and harmony

That’s greater and more powerful than time

For Patrick

When I return to my etheric form,

I will dance in the procession of colors.

Glowing ribbons reflected in oceans and rivers:

An expression of joy that follows the sun.

When our paints grow dim and our party lights fade,

Darling, please don’t think that I’m gone.

Just look for me in the moonlight

Or amongst leaves on the trees

And, of course, in your tender heartsong.

Fragmented Family Memories

Nobody wanted my grandmother’s sewing table when they were splitting up her belongings. The table she painted sage green decades ago; the old paint chipping off in fragments. 

And so, I inherited her table by fate.

Unwavering, shapely legs lead to carved, mandala stars at its knees. A flip drawer that still contains the two buttons, eight tails of thread, fourteen pins, and two clasps — just as she left them. A ridged lip with dark freckles leads to a splotchy top that I discovered, like a secret passageway, unfolds into a workspace. Nestled inside: a heavy, black, sewing machine embellished with gilded calligraphy. The hardware and craftsmanship of a bygone quality that was made before capitalism said things could not outlast their owners.

I wonder how it came to her. Was it a gift from her mother? I never thought to ask about her sewing table, inconspicuously housed in her upstairs room, in the corner she claimed as a painting nook. Now, it is in my art studio — a yurt to myself, a room of my own. 

Her table found its way to me.

I graze my fingers across the top, scattering the flecks, and I see her. Covering over the somber wood to make it bright and cheerful. Like her paintings of fluffy clouds above pastoral landscapes; children and butterflies; daffodils, deities, and stuffed animals. 

Studying her brushstrokes, I see her hands — elegant fingers I only knew in photographs — knobbed by the time they reached my memory. I see her transforming the gloominess. Giving it a delicate, whimsical shell.

Flaking the paint with my gentle touch, I remember hearing, after her death. Uncovering. Thirty years of anti-depressants that explained why she always seemed far away.

And how could an artist be happy in the confines of conventionality? Days regimented around care for others. The dreariness of living second-class to an upstanding member of the community, high-functioning — until it came to her indigo child. For whom being locked in the windowless, brick-lined basement was better than the alternative. 

My fingers reveal more of the stoic wood underneath. And I feel her artist soul alive within mine. A creatrix of beauty. Only now our work is not of covering over, but of returning. To our truth, our power, and our freedom. 

Because I can hold it all — the antique treasure, her long brushstrokes, and the dark spots.