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Telephone Pole

Image by Nicholas Smale via Flickr

Cryptic contact
No rhyme or reason
What’s it really all about?

The call, a query
Inane conversation
Harmless seeming banter

“Hey, what’s shakin’?”
“How have you been?”
Sly code seeking new status

Nothing implied
No point or promise
Merely checking now and then

“Husband is well”
“Yeah, wife’s good too”
Nothing more to speak of

She knows she’s changed
That life long gone
Why cling to that persona?

He’s different too
Intent not known
What’s he seek to find there?

Farewell for now
“We’ll talk again soon
Catch you on the flip side”

“Sure, later babe
Must keep in touch”
Shades of disappointment

Beg your pardon?
What was the purpose?
As much to blame as he is

This trip they make
From time to time
Down a path that leads them nowhere

Abkhazian passenger train passing Psyrtskha stop
Image via Wikipedia

The train has left the station
Oh yes, I got onboard
The route and destination
Both totally unknown

My choice made at a crossroad
We’ll see how smart it was
Head lost to heart the battle
Thus my path’s chosen

The train has left the station
Its course by fate destined
There’s really naught to do now
My part at present done

I do however wonder
No pretense I don’t care
Might I someday lament
Unseen strife and sorrow there

Still better some tomorrow
Some future time not past
Should I pause in fond reflection
Of a trip over too fast



They lived just down the road in a tidy, little bungalow painted a soft blue-gray with creamy-white trim. The modest dwelling had an aura of happiness and serenity.  I would see them on warm days puttering together in a garden filled with a riot of bright blossoms complemented by eclectic yard art and musical wind chimes created in the tiny shop set just back of the house from bits and pieces discarded by others.  My mother purchased a whimsical, mosaic ball constructed of shards of tinted glass one autumn from under the multi-colored canopy shading the spot they occupied every Saturday in the local Farmer’s Market – along with a jar of the best huckleberry jam I ever tasted.  I would run into them sometimes in the grocery aisles or notice them gaily singing at Sunday morning’s service.  Their presence was ever accompanied by carefree sounds . . . laughing, whistling, singing, happy chattering.  Always they were together.

It would have been easy to dismiss them as a trio of “crazy, old, cat ladies” sans the multitude of critters. In all honesty, there may have been a cat or two around though nothing defining.  What was most noteworthy were their eyes. All three had sparkling, amazingly youthful eyes of distinctly different colors.  Over time, I came to associate other particulars with each as well.  Boots had eyes of uncommon green and straight, blondish hair with a smattering of silver.  I can’t recall any time I saw her without her signature boots. She wore them everywhere and with everything.  Gypsy’s eyes were brown and soft and inviting.  Need I explain why I tagged her Gypsy?  She would forever put me in mind of the stereotype associated with those nomadic, romantic peoples.  She was not a caricature, but from her flowing skirts to her golden earrings and dark, wavy hair, she had that same flavor. Curly most certainly had once been the quintessential beach girl.  Her eyes the color of a summer sky were underscored with a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose and framed by the platinum grey curls that could not be contained by clips used in the vain attempt to control the rebellious mop.  They were the embodiment of Bohemian regardless their advancing age.

I often wondered how they came to be the inseparable troupe they were.  It was unlikely they were sisters, though their closeness that often seen in twins.  They even finished one another’s sentences. They shared everything.  It was not unusual for Boots to retrieve the reading glasses from atop her head handing them over to Curly to examine the print on a box or in a hymn book.  Curly, in turn, frequently pulled one accessory or another from her own hair to gather Gypsy’s locks keeping them from interfering with whatever undertaking Gypsy was absorbed with.  Should Boots shiver with cold, straight away one of Gypsy’s scarves would materialize to cloak her.  I don’t believe words were necessary between them.  They were synced on a level sometimes developed by couples married a lifetime.

One winter day I was watching Boots and Gypsy from the street as I meandered past their cottage on my way home from school.  They sat at a desk in the window engrossed with the computer before them.  I was not surprised to see them tapping away at the keyboard switching on some mystic cue back and forth, pointing, pausing to laugh, only to return to the task they were so obviously enjoying.  I was so captivated by the scene, the sound of the mailbox closing startled me.  I found myself staring into a pair of amused, blue eyes.  Embarrassed to have been caught so blatantly peering into the home of another, all I could do was stammer and become intensely interested in the toes of my scruffy tennis shoes.  The resonance of Curly’s supple chuckle brought my eyes back to hers.  What was there to do, but shrug and smile?  The gentle touch of her hand on my arm, as if by some strange conjuring, released me from my anxiety and shame.

“I’m sorry to be a Peeping Tom, ma’am.  It’s just that you and the other ladies . . . well, it’s just that . . . you can’t be sisters.  Why aren’t you with your families,” the words had slipped from my lips before I could filter such an inappropriate inquiry from being born and trailed away with an awkward, “or something?”

Curly then gave me in her sweet, quiet voice words I would learn the truth of throughout the years of my own life. “Well, I suppose, it might seem odd to a girl as young as yourself, my dear, but in your future there will be both cheer and tragedy, glad times and heart breaks.  It’s sad to say, but men will likely come and go.  Your parents will not always be around.  Should you have children, you will raise them and they will leave you to lead lives of their own as will your siblings.  But if you are truly blessed as I have been, you will have those sisters of your soul that will be there with you through it all. They will laugh with you in your joy.  They will support you in your trials. They will encourage you to pursue your dreams. They will cry with you your tears of sorrow. They will be proud of your achievements. They will ground you when you drift from what is reasonable. They will find you should you lose your way. They will hold your confidences and keep your secrets.  They will offer the hand that helps you up when you have fallen.  They will come to know you and you them in ways no one else ever can.  So, at the end of the day, you are never alone.  We three have each other now that the loved ones in our separate lives have passed or moved on.  We are simply doing what we have always done . . . be there for one another when there is no one else.  We are friends!”

Work . . .

Most insincere

Trying to guess what
They want to hear

Need a job so
The game I play

Trying to guess what
I’m suppose to say

Grin and bear it
Smile through it all

No job too much or
Compensation small

Really don’t want them
These jobs I pursue

My God how I hate
The interview

Love . . .

Not quite sincere

Try to be all that
Will keep you near

Need to be loved so
The words I say

Wait in fear seeing
If you will stay

Hiding my tears
Sweet through it all

No abuse too much or
Recognition small

Want you to love me
The one I pursue

But this feels like
A job interview

Life . . .

Heart felt, sincere

Trying to do right
Try to see clear

Pray for redemption
Every new day

Look to tomorrow
How it will play

Put weakness aside
Enduring it all

No trial too much or
Temptation small

More worthy a life
All I pursue

Just to be ready for
St. Pete’s interview

The room was filled with the souvenirs gathered throughout a life of adventure.  The bullroarer collected in the Outback lay on the shelf next to the Tumi knife picked up in Cuzco.  The Tibetan Thangka hung near the window opposite a Baule mask from the Ivory Coast.  The Xianpgi set bartered for in the Pangiayan Market and bone china tea set acquired in Edinburgh graced the top of the Kotatsu table radiating warmth from the corner.  Numerous bits and pieces amassed wandering the world vied with one another for attention in the small hospice room dominated by the hospital bed which had only recently dwarfed its fragile occupant.

A man well-traveled had just died here . . . alone.  For all his exploits, he had never had the time to make the human connection.  Never did he experience the greatest of all adventures.    Never did he wait with baited breath for the birth of a child.  Never did he work a job he hated to provide for a family he loved more than himself.  Never did he return to the loving arms of a woman graying and past her prime.   Never did he stand proud at the graduation of a son or the wedding of a daughter.  Never did he cry silent in the night not knowing how he would be everything needed by those in his charge.   Never did he hear the words “I love you” from one he had given up his dreams for.

The young orderly stood surveying the mess he was packing up for disposal.  He searched for a picture, or a letter, or indication of any kind there was someone that would want to know a lost and lonely soul had left this world . . . anyone that would want something here to remember the sad, miserable man that had spent the last days of his life in this forlorn place.  The youth closed and taped each box of the now worthless hoard of memories unshared, feeling a sorrow for the adventurer once envied. 

The cell phone in his pocket rang.  It was his wife.  The baby was colicky.  His son’s soccer team had lost.  The electric bill was past due. She was frustrated and exhausted.  She waited for him to respond, but he was only now understanding the treasures of his own adventures.   All he could say as he choked back tears was “I love you.”

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June 2023