The dry leaves miniature mountain ranges across the lawn, I grasp the rake sweating in my coat. In a day the ice arrives. I open the refrigerator and see all the way to the back My dog whines for every last crumb. Must get fat before cold starvation arrives. So hands already blistered, I abandon the piles to the weather to blow and freeze where ever they will. Cans of soup, loaves of bread call before the storm arrives. Storms, leaves, come and go. The manicured yard will return to wild in some distant year. But for the next few days we will nestle inside full-bellied and dreaming.
Heads swiveling, constantly to the left, to the right. following every sound and motion, except the required ones. Head down, eyes narrowed, intent on whatever transpires in their world as captured and replayed on a tiny screen. Asleep, passed out, oblivious driven by addictions in the nights to the detriment of life during the day. All the world craves significance, looking to the fickle masses, desiring that brief fame which flares and fizzles. And we take, without giving pushing ourselves to life out of balance, loss of equilibrium.
Black, gray, and gnarled rough with years of growth, now the last, of the sun-sucking leaves has fallen damp and crumbled on the ground. Inside the tough blackness the sweet sap of nine sunny months still courses through xylem, tree veins, ready to nourish new leaves, when the sun returns. I am also aging rough with years of growth but will not sprout new life any more. But the bittersweet gathered through many years, still courses in my veins, not to nourish the new leaves but to produce words, memories, written on paper leaves – from the black, gray gnarled wood.
It was for a day or two as it used to be, conversation everywhere, sometimes heated. People in the kitchen, constantly eating some offering to help but mostly underfoot. Laughing and lecturing, clashing and clinking - words, ideas and dishes - passed around the table. With so many people often in my way, I missed my quiet, evenly measured days. But with the last one gone the quiet seems hollow and I wish the clamor were back again.
Nineteenth birthday, a nonentity. Eighteenth, you became an adult; twentieth will be your second decade, but nothing happens at nineteen. Poised at an awkward stage Between adolescence and independence somehow still tethered to home, definitely not yet on your own Expected to behave maturely; expected to submit like a child to those willing to trust you with anything but your own ideas.
The peasants work in the field all day scrawny people, skinny people tanned from the constant sun The precious people are lily white, with soft rolls, full fleshed curves obviously sitting in luxury But let even a measure of wealth abound and the picture of beauty turns upside down.
“How is the meal?” the waiter inquires. “Just fine,” so clear and confident a response, that the waiter leaves content. “The chicken’s cold the bean’s mushy,” she moans. “Why didn’t you tell him?” a shocked look as if it were wrong to even hint. Gentility, a fine lady, who unloads complaints to close friends. But never to those that she really intends. Well-mannered so polite to the world. But to those that are with her constantly, she is constantly impolite.