Pook at Nine


I must get a present and paint those ceilings and bake a cake and, oh, I hope I have all the ingredients in the cupboard and, man, I need to wash my hair because it’s so stringy and flat, dirty I guess, and the yard needs mowing and if I don’t do it soon, I’ll need a thresher and, you know, when I was walking Betty tonight, talking to her like I do, and that June bug flew right into my mouth, slowing its entry by sticking its spiky legs into my top lip, I thought, In the big scheme of things, that didn’t need to happen and now I think the reason it happened has to do with time and rain and high entropy, which I really don’t know anything about  and I’ve just remembered that there are Booja Booja truffles in the fridge and blueberry muffins in the freezer, not that I’m hungry at all, and I really want to be musing about Pook, because he’s nine years old today, and if I can find that thread that leads truly to his soul, then I can give him something that isn’t a throw away object because words, once written or spoken, don’t go away, sort-of like time and memory and already I’m remembering today how he laughed his hearty laugh and hummed his happiness song and when we played Pictionary and he got the word Waste, he drew a truck emptying its contents on top of the sun and the mountains and a tree and there, on the right side of the picture was an empty chair and I couldn’t make that connection and I still can’t but it made me feel lonesome with my love for him because already he’s nine and when he asked,“When will we come back to Sheila and David’s to swim?”, I said, “But we’re still here.”


That’s the word I will give to Pook for his birthday.



Every time I pick up Poets and Writers magazine to look through the DEADLINES section, I freeze at the chance of $1000.00 for a poem or an essay or a short story. 

An essay? I don’t have that length in me these days. I suppose I could pull it, stretch it, pump up the word count with images. Then there’s the matter of subject. I haven’t been doing anything awesome. I haven’t been having awesome thoughts. I’ve been painting the house.

When I scraped the shingles, I thought, “This is what it’s like to be a dental hygienist.” When I primed the bare and rough spots, I thought, “It’s freeing to be reckless and sloppy.” When I started painting for real, I thought, “Oh no, I’m painting the house orange.” 

Where’s the poetry in that? A little alliteration, maybe, but no crash, no resounding shiver like Mary Oliver’s “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”

I’ll tell you what I plan to do. I’m going to push the ladder over the fence and extend it up the side of the house to the place where the roof peaks. I’ll straighten it and wobble it. I’ll put that folded over piece of birch bark under the gimpy leg and, with my wide paint brush and yellow PlayDoh bucket filled with paint, I will climb.

I will call on Mary, (Not Mary Oliver but the other Mary.) because I don’t trust the electromagnetic vibe machine or the faeries to keep me safe. 

While I am up so high, painting, I will think about stories, about villains and victims in stories and I will think about divorce.

I suppose in every divorce there has to be a villain and I am she. I’ve never been a villain before and I think I’m doing it all wrong. I still peel and slice up apples for my children. I still wash and fold clothes. I haven’t taken up thieving or deceiving. I yield to bikes and buses.

Wait! This story is not genre fiction! There is no villain because there is no victim! 

This is the story of a person who is out of her element, like a saltwater fish swimming in an inland sea. That’s the big story. The little story is of a person who has painted the house orange and hopes someone will say, “That orange house, I must have it!” 

                                                                  The End