Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fever Break

A yellow beak curving away
from a bright plastic body, orange
and clean, gleaming as a clock's
arms ticking. The twisted sheets
for another day go unwashed.
My skin winking, my lashes
I can feel them against my cheek
and the body's sweet sinking
it remains, chiming as if to press
the point that loss goes on living.
I can't bear to see your things
again, not without you with them.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It isn't a dream but it feels like one. Halfway through the birds it started to rain. A drop here and there. J gets a phone call. My sleeves are wet from cleaning the filter in the pond, a process that requires me to crouch at the slate egde and reach my hand deep into the cold water to withdraw the feathers and leaves that gather in the filter's pores. There are always clumps of feathers, mostly the small feathers from when the birds preen. J says "wait" to the person on the phone and asks if I can go out to the lagoon to fetch an oiled grebe. I say okay. I was going to take an injured seagull to be euthanized, and it is a better errand to try and rescue a live bird. I am handed the phone and given a series of detailed but complicated directions. I try to listen, but in between visualizing the lagoon and the paths and the dunes, my attention scatters to the way rain is beginning to fall more steadily on the red slate rocks of J's patio. Then I leave and drive my car, which for some reason feels impossibly small, to the edge of the beach facing southwest. Because of the curved land, some of the beaches face southish here. I park and make my way with the blue plastic carrier past the shaggy south edge of the beach where the water is whipped white by the rain and wind and there are piles of large sad rocks. I traverse the large dune which is like a forehead and is vaguely ben bulbenesque. I hang onto my hat. The dune is muddy and criss-crossed with tire tracks where the ice plant has been cut away by bikes and hikers. I walk and look over the edge of the cliff where there is no beach, only the slapping surf. The dunes are large, and there are moments where there is nothing but white sky in sight. And then the dune slopes north and west and the green lagoon rises alongside. And then on the other side a thin taper of beach that curls and widens to a sort of half-moon swath of sand cluttered with bits of driftwood -- laurel and cypress and eucalyptus. The little beach is like a pile of sticks, a pile of matches. I am looking as the lady on the phone instructed -- looking amidst the grayish bits of matchstick wood for a long white neck. I am looking and looking for white. There is sea-spray in the air and it smells good. There is also the smell of oil, which is why I must find the grebe. The woman on the phone warned me that there were two dead birds near the live one, but I do not see them. Suddenly, I see a thin strip of white bending up and down almost like it is being blown by the wind but it is moving as a living thing moves. And the thin white strip is the thin white neck of the grebe and then I see the yellow beak and up closer the bright red-orange eyes. I put the blue plastic carrier on the sticks and approach the bird from the back. It's feathered body is like a raft adrift the sticks. I have a towel that I softly toss over its head as it begins to squawk. I gently grab the neck and scoop up the bird and, like always, I am surprised by it's lightness. The bones and feathers and wet. And the sticky oil underneath. I put the bird in the blue plastic carrier. It is only when I shut the gate and lean down to peer into its shadows that I am aware of the warm life inside the carrier, the sheltered quiet of the blue plastic as the waves and winds and sticks and oil shudder. And I feel the familiar relief of discovering that something is still alive. And is safe. And is still alive, still living.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

a dream that isn't mine

the dream is my grandmother's. she is sleeping and sleeping and she does not want to wake up. In the dream the radio alarm is going off and she hits the off button repeatedly but the music keeps playing. she wants to stay in bed all day. then she hears a voice that is like her father's and it says: "I___, you have to wake up now." She looks up and there is a man who is her father but he does not look like him. "You have to get up," her father says again, sternly. I___ looks up at him. He is holding two white robes. One is lacy and fancy and one is plain white cotton. "Which robe do you want?" he asks, holding them out to her. I___ looks at both robes and answers, "I'll take the plain one; I don't need that fancy thing," gesturing to the lacy white robe. "Okay," says her father, and he hands her the plain white cotton robe. She takes it just before she wakes up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When I'm driving, I often mistake things near the side of the road for animals. There is a small hydrant of sorts on Mesa, and as I drive over the little hill towards home, I often mistake it for a small brown rabbit. It looks like a rabbit that has risen from nibbling the grass to stand at attention-- quite still, it's ears alert. And there are bits of black plastic (I think they are from black garbage bags) tangled in the thorns of the curled barbed wire that trims the chain link fence that runs along los carneros. I often mistake these bits of black plastic for crows. The plastic looks like crows that are cawing, tails fanned, necks outstretched.

I often do see animals near the roadside, especially close to home. Sometimes a Great Blue Heron will be right at the side of the road. I assume that it is hunting ground squirrels. And there are often ground squirrels; the field near the parking lot is a virtual city of squirrels. When it rained I worried about them. I wonder if they dig deep deep down or if they vacate the boroughs. I am still wondering about this even thought I've been seeing them again. I often see animals on the walk from the parking lot to the door. Several times I've seen a skunk. I have a fondness for skunks. I think they are beautiful and vulnerable. But I only see skunks at night. During the day, I sometimes see a hawk. And lately the trees are flooded with blackbirds. It seems they are never in numbers fewer than 100.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

There are many dried and dead things. Once, I found the the parched body of a frog -- thin and light, wizened. Its folded legs flat, the tiny lobed finger-toes spread fragile and crisp, almost translucent. And today, the dehydrated body of a lizard, no longer than an inch and a half. I thought it was a tangle of dark thread, but it was the stiff wisp of scales and feet and the little curled fingers and tail.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

In the dream last night there were several parts. In the first part K and I were in a variety of snowy places. They were collegiate and cobbled and winding and I kept asking "are we in Providence? Charlottesville?" And the two girls we were hurrying to follow kept saying "No!" At one point the city appeared to fold in on its side and then it seemed as though it was Kyle or some other small Texas town frayed on one edge by the interstate. But then we were in a large house -- southern, gothic in its architecture with sprawling rooms and columns and porches. It felt hot, and perhaps wet. And then there was another side -- a part of the house that abutted a mall. It was a large mall, like the one in towson, and there were fluorescent -lit cinder block hallways. There was some confusion in one of the bathrooms off the hallway. I was washing socks so that they would be clean to pack. I asked K if he wanted to trade suitcases. I had books in mine and so did he and we thought to switch because at least then they might be light enough to bring. But it seemed unlikely that everything would fit, and our belongings were scattered and dirty and disorganized.

The next part of the dream was like a flap of cardboard that unfolded from the side of a box -- like a book flap. And in this part that unfolds from the dream on a crease that is like the wall of the house, it again becomes a house that is like my grandparents' house and I was following a friend from high school, D. She was blond and gangly like she was all limbs and bare feet and ankles. I was following her up the stairs that had dark oak banisters and multiple flights and landings. And we were going up up up to the highest little attic corner of the house. It was like a secret wing or turret (reminiscent of the little octagonal room in the victorian doll house with the plastic windows) and it was where D's mother slept. When we reached the top there was carpet and quiet like a room that someone slept in but is empty. There was a crumpled silk nightgown on the floor and the bed was unmade. I was aware that we should not be there and that we might get caught. I watched as D tried to slide into a closet in the corner. I knew it was the attic because of the a-frame roof that hung down and tapered toward the white half-door of the closet that D was opening and sliding into with only her bare legs sticking out. This was as we (I was with at least one other girl, maybe J) took to looking at the shelves -- the stacks of papers and books and boxes. Then D was back in the room (which was lit by skylights) and showing us her mother's diary. Her mother seemed to be some sort of astrologer and and she had logged the locations of all of the planets for each day. There were long columns with numbers and hieroglyphic planetary symbols written darkly (like someone had pressed hard) in pencil. These little rows like runes on a tablet. As I was looking I was like "of course she knows the future." And I thought that if D's mother knew the future, than surely she most know that we were here in this room looking at her things. And so at that moment I became even more afraid of getting caught. I crept behind the (curiously) open bedroom door to hide just as D's mother came into the room. I felt too large in the corner and so it was clear that there was no way for me to hide. Meanwhile, D and the other girl had positioned themselves in the middle of the room where they were nonchalantly looking at magazines. "oh mom," D said, looking up, "we just came up her to look at these." She said as if it were nothing. D went on flipping the pages of the magazine and her mother seemed annoyed but not like D was going to be in trouble. But then I came awkwardly out of hiding, smiling big and hard because I couldn't help it and knowing that my emergence made it clear that we were just pretending -- that we really knew we shouldn't be there. And so it was my hiding that actually exposed us all.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

In the dream last night my parents' old house was at the beach like a little shack and one end was open and faced the beach as though water could wash in. as thought water had washed in and we had to remove the tidal debris, the dirt and the bits of dried and dead palms. I wanted to show K how we'd arranged it. I thought that she would be impressed with the amount of room. I was also surprised by the amount of room. I am always having dreams in which rooms I do not know about suddenly appear. And when I wake I am disappointed to find that they are gone. It was raining and the power flickered on and off. This house also seemed like my grandparents' house. In my dreams about my grandparents' house there are always neighbors I do not know in the alley.

When we are on the beach, I notice that there are birds whose long necks extend from large round rocks, or perhaps eggs. Perhaps they are like snails who live in their shells. They appear to be eating fish and it is a little grisly, the red flesh and the white crisp bones breaking with a little crunch I can feel in my jaw. I see that one bird is out of the rock/shell/egg, and it is long like a rubber chicken but it is a sea bird, like a heron, but stretchy with long yellow legs, like a rubber chicken.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

is this real?