If life is to be measured like sands of time, running from the upper hourglass to the bottom, I think it only fair the sands possess different colors for different periods. Not all of one’s life is the same color.
Once the sands of time have fallen through to a beautiful mountain at the bottom, the hourglass being flipped over to do it’s thing again resembles reincarnation. Even if I were to buy into the idea of reincarnation, (or purgatory for that matter) does it not seem ridiculous that one would have the same amount of time in the next life?
Perhaps the sand measures something else… Love, for instance…. However, if one hopefully were to progress as in evolve, would not there be more love in the next life? Looking at history of human beings on the planet, one wonders. Perhaps it’s the opposite.
Where the alchemical meets the mundane in etchings of hourglasses, they have wings. These wings signify that time flies. But it doesn’t always. We all know that. Sometimes it drags.
Then there’s those shattered hourglasses. Those tragically smashed all over the pavement in sharp shards. Like so many young black guys killed by ignorant policeman. A mad man with a gun in a school or a shopping mall throws that hourglass full of sand in the upper half against a brick wall. Sands released too soon.
Let’s forget about time altogether and consider the hourglass as a female form, in ephemeral youth, temporarily full of wonder.
Yet, maybe there’s something outside the physical realm. It’s like that sometimes. Sometimes things get lucky. Perhaps even magic exists and there is something that is not bound by time.
I’ve been writing a short short story a day for eleven weeks, I am doing this as a participant in a Round Robin at The Writer’s Salon in San Francisco. I now have 77 stories. they are piling up so I have decided to share some here. Each day there is a prompt which starts me off. From there, anything goes. Rule is: one can only write for 12 minutes and can edit afterwards.
Two TREES on the edge of a cliff
~I’m tired of being here
~What do you mean you’re tired of being here? You can’t be tired of being here. You are a tree. We are trees. We’ve been here a long time.
~Right, & we’re supposed to be here for a long time to come, but I’m tired of it. Sorry, but I am even tired of you. You and I, all the time, here on the edge.
~It’s better than being on the edge alone, you know that.
~Right well, you got me there. UHG..this time of year…I hate the gray skin. I hate the nakedness of it all. Truth be told, I’m tired of the whole winter, spring, summer, fall thing. It’s same old same old all the time. So predictable. Nothing happens.
~Yeah, but you gotta admit in the winter we have a lot of fun and in the fall our leaves are the brightest, orange yellow-ish color anywhere on the planet other than some sunsets which never last very long.
~It’s true I like the splat contest. I like that we’re not on a farm and that the people who live near us hardly ever come at the right time to get our persimmons. I like how we play the game who can get the most splats in the day.
~True that’s a fun game but we always know at the beginning of the day how it’s gonna end. Always depending on WonderWind and what mood she’s in that day and the way she cares to gust, blows the surprise out of who wins on any given day she’s around.
~Yeah, But it’s super fun and she’s not always around being the deciding factor.
~True, but I’m tired of being taken for granted. We are saving these humans lives, and they are so busy they can’t even see or appreciate us.
~Remember that time when people used to hug us?
~Yes, that was nice. I think the worst time was when that idiot Shel Silverstein wrote that book “The Giving Tree”. I mean what the fuck bullshit message was that? What was he doing? Trying to teach people how to have a dysfunctional relationship?
~Yeah, I don’t think people read that to their kids as much as they used to.
~I hope not. If that guy walked under my tree, I would make for sure to have a big branch fall on his head giving him a headache for a couple decades. Better yet I’d have one of my roots trip him, so he’d fall off the edge a little bit, not so much as to kill him, but just enough to injure his right hand.
~Hey, wait a minute! hold on there! Why would you ever want to injure anyone? Those human beings are in such a mess. They are constantly injuring themselves! Directly or indirectly.
~Yes, I know it’s true. Even I, a species able to maintain complete equanimity feel sad for them. I wish there was some way I could help.
Just then a young woman comes up to the tree. She has a stool with her. She sets that down under the tree. Forlorn, she pulls a rope out of the bag she’s brought with her. Dejected, she stands for a long time at the edge overlooking the chasm. Is she considering jumping? What is she going to do with that rope? It’s for sure she’s not going to play with it. She has an agenda. She comes back to the stool, stands on it while she ties one rope end around the tree branch and the other around her neck.
WindWonder starts to gasp and move quickly around in a flurry. The trees start to wiggle and wobble in the wind. The girl pushes the stool out from under her. There is a moment inbetween, when WindWonder wooshes, and the wanting tree yearns. The branch breaks. It all falls down.
The young lady gasps “THANK GOD!” She lays down beneath the tree and looks through the intricate lace of the old grey naked branches. She watches the clouds in the sky pass one after the other. For the rest of the afternoon, she looks up through the maze of the tree’s pattern at the clouds changing shapes, appearing and dissolving moving across the endless sky.
She comes back many years later, with two small children, gets on a stool and hangs a swing.
Because of daylight savings time, my walk around the lake is quite a bit darker than usual. It’s Sunday, and a few family outings are ending up. I park a little irregularly, not quite exactly between the two lines because I back up in order to head out easily. I know it doesn’t matter how I am parked because no new cars are going to be coming in at that hour.
Three quarters around the lake, I notice coming towards me and then notice as they walk by me, two people dressed entirely in white. I don’t look closely, but I think they are dark skinned maybe Indian maybe African-American. That’s not the unusual thing. The unusual thing is that they are dressed in white. Part of the Lake Temescal in Oakland appeal, is all kinds of people are happily enjoying the park.
As I get further along the path by the lake, to where the field accommodates larger groups, I see one large group of many many people dressed in white. Not all of them, however. They still look Indian or African-American. There are some stragglers away from the group, people with baby carriages and babies in them and couples without carriages and pairs of friends. The majority of them however are centered in a circle around a sound similar to the hindu chanting I know from Amma’s. A place where people used to dress in white.
The sound I’m hearing is far away so I can’t know exactly what it is. I stop and ask a straggling couple what is going on. The young man doesn’t know exactly what to say so he says, “Church”. “Nice” I say and add “Blessings to you all” before walking on.
The woman with the guy who said ‘church’, disapproves of me. I can see her body grimace, and tighten up when I ask them if I am hearing Hindi. She is dressed in full length white with blue trim around the edge of her head covering. This resembles the clothing Mother Theresa nuns wore in the early 90s going to and from Saint Pauls, where they were housed, near 28th and Sanchez.
Mother Theresa, even occasionally went to that building. I had a boyfriend, who lived a block from there. He broke up with me, and started to become best friends with my housemate. My housemate would, of course go to his house. Once housemate saw Mother Theresa in route. I found that infinitely unfair. I thought I was the one who deserved to see Mother Theresa.
A decade or two before that, I spent a lot of time going to meditation classes and meditation retreats. My best friend was interested in no such thing. She was interested in marijuana and occasionally a lot of alcohol. One night after a bottle of rum or something she teleported to my apartment.
The next day she told me what I was wearing and everything that I was doing the night before. There’s no way she could’ve known that. Again, I thought it was unfair. I was going to the meditation retreats. I was the one trying to reach god. Somehow she was already there.
Funny how the mind works and how I went from the gathering to the blue trim of Mother Teresa to that night.
Walking back to my car, two young men from the group but not dressed in white, stop me on the dark path.
“You come here much?” One asks.
“Yes” I answer.
“Where is there a bathroom?” he asks.
I tell him.
“Thank you so much” The other says sincerely. Perhaps he’s the one in need.
“Of course!” I say.
I realize now, after having a bit more time with these two, that the group is Ethiopian. Not that it matters.
Still, I wonder why they are dressed in white. I could look that up no doubt but I’d rather leave it unknown.
Bob Dylan: “Glad to see you’re still alive you’re looking like a saint”.
The Bob Dylan concert was everything I wanted it to be. I mean I got everything I wanted to get out of that night but what I thought I wanted him to do wasn’t what he did.
There was no guitar and for the few minutes he stood up it looked like he would fall down. He spent almost the entire time sitting at the piano. I was glad I bought the least expensive seats because even if you had the most expensive seats you still would not have been able to see him under his fedora hat looking down at the keyboard.
I realize this doesn’t sound exciting or powerful. What was exciting and powerful about that night was that this man is 81 and still writing poetry and still singing it loud and strong and raspy. I felt like it was an honor just to be in the room with him. I felt like it was an honor that he didn’t give a flying fuck about what any of us wanted him to sing. Instead he was the example he always has been of doing exactly what he wants to do. What he wanted was to sing his last album. Will it be his very last album? How long can this guy go on? This timeless man sings his “Rough and Rowdy” album with a picture that looks like it’s from the early 1960s of people dancing. Tight dresses showing tight asses.
Before the concert there was a guy outside selling a book he printed of the lyrics. Seemed ridiculous. After the concert I wish I had bought it. I had already bought four of my favorite songs from the new album. I had been listening to them over and over and over again. Some of them it seems are about dying or are singing about thinking about dying.
We went especially wild after some songs and he said, “Why thank you very much” which is the only time he said anything. He said it in an Appalachian gentlemanly way that seemed precious. The evening was in the Fox Theatre which is the most beautiful theater I’ve ever been in. We bought beers in the theater before he went on and took them to our seats. Loved that. We could have beers but we couldn’t have our phones. Loved that. Because I didn’t have a phone I had a hard time finding my concert buddy whose ticket I had. I wondered how we did things in the past.
The audience screamed with wild abandon the few moments he played the harmonica. Who else plays the harmonica? In thinking about the concert before I went I thought he probably will not play the harmonica because I’m guessing that takes more breath than to sing but he did play it and we went wild.
In the middle of the concert he introduced his three guitarists, one keyboarder and the drummer. After he played all the songs on the album, he left the stage with the introduced guys. We clapped & shouted & clapped. The audience of all ages stood up and cheered. However it was clear that this guy was not gonna get back on stage; this guy that only does what he wants to do. This 81 year old guy who plays night after night in different cities close to each other in small venues: Oakland, San Jose, Sunnyvale. And then off to LA. No encore here. Just as well with me. I am satisfied.
Not my usual crowd: beautiful young women with piercings and tattoos and jeans or stockings heavily ripped with beautiful babies in tow, the kind that are 2ish. All kinds of others are also at the laundromat. Each clearly with their own story and their own clothes, like me.
The last laundromat I used kicked me out so to speak; not really because I’d already finished washing my two turbo loads and was leaving. Said I wasn’t allowed to come back. Said the clay reside from my kids clay projects was making the place dirty. Hello. People come there to wash dirty things and mine aren’t dirty enough to even need detergent. Anyhow I only do this three times a year and that was 4 months ago. Therefore I am not going to said but going towards downtown to the in-between hood with the bigger, seedier yet more expensive laundromat.
I have enough canvas mats covering studio tables to make them heavy enough to warrant three trips to the car. The parking lot is an experience not separate from the mat. When the tiny kids run into the street, it’s ok because the street is the parking lot which is the car, which is perhaps also the home; a small traveling home complete with vibrant small plants growing in brilliantly painted small pots on the dashboard.
A gentleman of hard to dicier ethnicity and age entering the open door questions loudly to anyone who might care to answer, “What time is it”? Another guy answers “Ten of Six”. I say, “Wow, so late”. I was thinking it was maybe 3:30, Sunday time.
The questioner says “So early”and he sits on the bench eating a candy bar with such comfort that I wonder if he is even there to wash clothes. A little later he notices that a woman has dropped a sock loading her machine. He says “You dropped your sock” but she doesn’t hear him because she has huge headphones on. Rather than shouting an entering question, his voice is whipsy now, old and frail, offering advice from a bench. ” You dropped your sock”, he says again with a little effort but still she can’t hear. The third time succeeds. In a way he cared and it was pleasant to be around that caring.
After all the jumbo washing and drying, I was carrying the clean and folded mats to my car. When I was leaving with the second pile he said to me, “Goodbye. Nice to see you again.” I agreed. It was pleasant, even though it didn’t make sense because I’d never been there before.
There are clearly few, who are so talented as Connie WalkerShaw.
Today I pick up the dress she made for me from special fabric that had been given to me when I was 35. I remember because it was given to me by an older woman artist who shares my birthDAY and lives in a synagogue. She gave me the fabric when she was 70. She was twice my age. The fabric has gold threads in it. It is like a color shifting fairy tale fabric that changes from lavender to gold, hinting at rose.
I am late picking up the dress, so her lesson is already underway. I try on the dress which is magical and am ready to go. As I leave, I ask the student seamstress if she knows that Connie also is in a band and that she can play two saxophones at once? The little girl says a shy “no”. I smile, shrug, raise my eyebrows and say “well, she can” and leave.
After WalkerShaw I drive to the beach.. Ocean Beach in San Francisco is like heaven. It is so empty and so nothing. I can see as far as I can see in three directions. My cells take in the empty vastness with relief. This hasn’t changed. I think then, have I changed? Each time I stand at Ocean Beach I remember other times I’ve stood before her. Before the ocean and cried out with my soul for all that I hope for. She solicits requests like that. The ocean is vastness itself. Before her, troubles shrink and expire, being obviously temporary. She emanates eternal presence, over and over, her waves sounding like a large echo of my internal self; of something that helps me let go and know.
It’s the same, and different. It always is.
Two solitary men pass me going one way; then an older couple passes the other way. That’s it. The beach’s nature to human ratio is nourishing, safe and separated from the highway by blocks and blocks of gorgeous graffiti, painted on the ocean side, I assume late at night.
There are birds. That familiar seagull silhouette is everywhere; taking off and landing. I notice a particularly nice one but sense something odd about it. It’s the wrong size. I realize it’s outdoor art of some kind as it is not a real bird and even far away it reads clearly and I like the design so I walk towards it. It takes longer than I expect. Getting closer I see it’s a sign. Not a regular government sign but still it seems official. It says something like “strawberry ice plant sanctuary ends here”, yet there’s nothing but sand for miles.
A couple of days ago, in the middle of May, I got a large envelope in the mail. It was a very official United States one from the “Bay Valley District of Consumer and Industry Affairs Office”. Needless to say, I was worried. As a self employed person putting two kids through college, I wondered what I could have done wrong on which of the countless tax and financial aid forms I fill out.
It was thin, like one sheet of paper inside. That also didn’t seem like a good thing in my fear based state. An 11×14″ white envelope with a government seal and one sheet of paper inside?
So I wait a day and then open it. To my amazement it is an apologetic letter from the post office. An announcement for an art opening I had last December somehow got itself to the “Letters to Santa” receptacle.
My card was “mistakenly treated as one of the legitimate request letters”. Who knew such a place existed? and that “every piece of mail at said receptacle is intended to be fulfilled by one of our santa helpers”!
They did not know what to do with my card. So they sent it back; with apologies, hoping I’d understand. Truth is, I’m thrilled my request got to Santa, but I don’t really understand.