A Heart Like Mine



Mostly Poems

praying

To keep from vanishing
Into thin air,
I write,
I pray,
Desperate
Mumblings to heaven.

a poem that one of my students wrote about seasons

I woke up this morning to look out the window.
It started to snow.
I watched the snow fall swiftly.
Snow. Snow. Snow. 
Where do you go after you fall swiftly
to the ground and go?
I wonder where,
we’ll never know.

The next day it was Spring. 
I looked out the window. 
I saw a flower grow and 
I asked flower, 
Where do you come from?
Where do you go?
I guess we’ll never know.

It’s Summer now.
The sun is shining bright
and I ask the sun,
Where do you come from? 
Where do you go?

It’s Winter again with snow falling swiftly,
and I ask again,
Snow, snow, snow,
Where do you come from? 
Where do you go?
I guess we’ll never know.

Central Park

The grey white of the sky,
nestles, backlighting 
mazes of black branches,
which applaud and celebrate
for the rows and ridges of
antique beige buildings
with mint green rooftops,
ornate lines against the sky.
Shapes curling in detail. 
Rocks like hills appear,
grass rolls over the ground,
a bridge with moss and ivy,
a river lazily runs through it,
while the sidewalk curves,
paving the way for moving
tophats and flower adorned 
carriages. 
Taxi’s dot the scene
as they race and stop
along the nearby highway.
High school girls smoke and chatter
along with their radio tunes. 
Lovers lie down and kiss,
drunkenly ignorant to the world.
The sun makes its way down behind 
the wall of buildings that hover 
and outline the park. 
Runners run, walkers walk,
Scholars study, workers shuffle.
Winter stubbornly lingers with a chill,
The air is the production of the city.
Such a conglomeration of things.
The sweeping of cars and planes,
The cooking of hot dogs in carts,
The cigarettes and hurried breath.
The movement of humans, ever rushed.
I am the audience of such a performance.
I sit with my willing eyes and feet.
An observer of such living art. 

-C

In those days, I didn’t understand anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life…But I was too young to know how to love her.

—The Little Prince

To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you– the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.

Loneliness

Loneliness like a mirage
on a hot desert road
makes water shimmer 
in black spotted puddles. 

It has a wind that twists
my heart around,
causing mind to erase
all logic and truth. 

Slopping mud on the eyes
I try to search through miles
to unwind the tangles,
to peel back what has dried.

I wait for a clear thought.
It comes only after I realize
the inevitable, ghastly,
unmoving truth. 

The black puddles that
promised me a life,
and magic, and palm trees,
are nothing. 

They never even evaporated.
They were never there to begin with. 
And loneliness like a mirage dissolves,
the with each encroaching mile. 

An Email I Almost Sent… But Didn’t.

I’m going to New York on Saturday with a friend and I legit almost picked up the phone to call you and ask you about some places you’d recommend. You should know that happens sometimes. I hope you are well. I hope things are coming together at your work and that people are getting used to you in your new position and that you are learning a lot. I hope when you travel that you breathe new air in your lungs but that you also miss your brother and the fields you grew up in and the boys you played football with and the Italian dinners that your grandma cooked. I hope you miss me when you see the skyline in New York, if you ever do see it anymore. I hope that place in your brain that recognizes the faded, broken-in, home smell in the clean air will want it more and more. I hope I had an effect on you. I hope it selfishly and for your own good. There are days that I tend to move forward with time and then other days when I realize you might never be out of my brain. All of life is one big, continuing conversation my mom told me once and sometimes I think that we only ever took two year long pauses, though I always thought they were so final. And maybe that’s why I want to know what you are doing today; if you are in town and having a normal day. Maybe you just got back from the gym or from dinner and you’re on the escalator all sweaty with your gym sack. Maybe you are with friends. Maybe you are reading. Maybe you are working. Maybe you had an appointment. Maybe you aren’t in Chicago at all. Maybe you’re asleep on a plane or in Brazil or somewhere in Europe or some mundane city in the US, in Texas or Oklahoma keeping up and checking in with your employees. Wherever you are, you should know that in my little Charlottesville life, the chaotic sounds of children don’t drown you out. And neither does my stubborn heart, nor the massive amounts of work there is to do, nor my richest friendships, nor my deepest spirituality, nor my longest, most disgusting run down Route 29, nor months of silence can erase you. But you should also know that my life is not confusing now. There is clear thought, stability, and calm waters. And yet, sometimes I crave the romantic mess that we were, how it never made sense but sometimes did. It was a rope swing, dangling and swaying, needing to be taught with the tension of a weight. You should know that every time I open my mouth to ask you what the name of that restaurant was where we drank wine in Soho, or tell you when I made a good decision at work, or tell you that I ran seven miles for the first time, or to ask you why the hell you loved the ending so much in Musashi, because I thought it was so fucking morbid, or when I want to drink sake and it’s not the same with anybody else, I almost call you. But I don’t. And I think, I’m so very content with the one truth of life: needing to pee and there’s no one who can watch my class for just two minutes, falling in love with the wrong person, 15 snow days in one school year, only 24 hours in one day, paying 20 dollars just to get to the airport, running out of money right before pay day, writing lesson plans that get accidentally deleted, teaching kids that won’t pass their tests, training for a 10 miler that I won’t run, a 9 year old who is supposed to be here today, dies for no reason, and maybe Alanis Morissette did say it well: 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife. The truth is, that life is the stoplight on Hydraulic Road, outside Albemarle High School at 4:02 pm and driving up just in time to be stopped by the painstaking parade of buses on their way out into the city, but finding it so beautiful that I’m crying while chewing my granola bar. Because I realize that this is the soul of life. Nothing is right and somehow the expectation of it is consoling. I am making peace with it every time, more and more. And I hope you are too. 

-C

The People I Sit With Sometimes

I used to think magic and spark were only ever under umbrellas in the rain in New York with a handsome boy. But now I know better. Blessings abounding and unfounded are here in this room. It is something I never was courted into, something I never chased down, something I never put my cleanest dress on for, or ever any make-up. There is a fire place with a kind of perfect Goodnight Moon fire going. Heavy snow sits quietly on black mazes of tree limbs outside the white trimmed windows. A baby makes noises as he bounces happily, eyes locked in discovery. The family dog crouches under the coffee table and lazily dreams. A husband’s hands knead his wife’s shoulders as his words spill out on to curving pathways of thought. He speaks of that silent layer of friendship, that quiet place you get to with someone. You can read the paper and he can drink his coffee and you don’t have to say anything. You can enjoy each other’s presence. A wife grabs her husband’s hand because she is reminded of a page in her own book. Cake comes out of the oven and steams in consolation of our worn out days and unending cold. The young one wears glasses and speaks of life’s transitions and desires. I rattle on about the events of my day. My words land like ornaments on the delicate and wise branches where these dear ones sit. The couple with the baby have eyes that seem extra open for what is coming. They need to know there will be solace. It is coming the old ones assure them. You can’t do this alone. We cry to each other in silent waves and gently pressing words. And the Lord whispers to me. You didn’t do this alone. You won’t do this alone. This is the romance of life. This is the garden. And my cup spills over. 

-C

Courageous Thoughts Today

Jesus loves all of my ex-boyfriends.
Jesus loves Fred Phelps.
It only takes a small grain of love
to melt the avalanche of hatred.

-C