Monday, October 31, 2011

II and III

II is dead because he had
no voice no words no mouth no thoughts
grinding enamel on dry enamel.
Count the perforations on the dirty white ceiling.

A shadow, a memory, a flag stuffed in a box.
Sterile air and blinding walls
Suck the air from his mouth, but
leave the stick and suffocation.

She waited -- festering, swelling
III would come but II
would be gone.
Leave her in the middle.

Three quarters of a year
and II left his scar -- but
III beat in her heart.
Tickle the air in her nostrils.

Two became one became two again
and they screamed
as two missing their third
never alone but never whole.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Stories - Elizabeth (Part III)

     Part 3 of the Elizabeth series. If you haven't read the first two parts, you can access them either through these links or through the stories tab at the top of the page. This is the third narrative perspective. Next week will be from the first perspective again, and the story will continue through one more cycle of each perspective. 6 sections total. Enjoy.

           He had fallen asleep in the passenger seat. She thought he looked even more innocent than he did when he was awake. Even though he had just turned seventeen, she still saw him with the same shining halo around his head as she did when he was a small boy. That circle glowed. It sparkled with the purity only the love of a mother can illuminate. As a car shifted lanes behind them, she glanced into the rearview mirror. Her circle wasn’t pure. It swallowed her eye and festered with guilt. A stain on her face, the black and sallow ring was the breaking point. Her breaking point. She could still see him standing over her. Yelling at her. “Get up, Laura. You ain’t hurt.” David, I’m bleeding. He had shaken her foundations, but now over a thousand miles from home, she finally felt that she could start over.
            “Where are we?” the boy asked as he woke, squirming under his seatbelt in an attempt to sit upright again.
            “Just passing Flagstaff.”
            “New Mexico?”
            “Arizona.” Since leaving Atlanta, they had spent more time in silence than in conversation. When she thought about it, not much had been said in their house in the past few years, and if it had been said it had been yelled. She found his sleepy questions deeply calming.
            “She’s going to be there.” He had repeated the sentence a dozen times since they had left, and tears still filled her eyes when she heard his optimism. She knew there was little chance his sister would be in California, much less near Stanford, but she couldn’t bring herself to cast a shadow on his hope. Despite her daughter’s acceptance to the school, she would never have been able to pay tuition. Besides, she had left nearly a month ago. Even if she had made it to California, would she still be there? Better to show confidence for him, though. For them both. He had shown her how precious hope was and she did her best to learn from him, but sometimes she found it hard to see through the dark circles to the light hovering so far away.
            The note was more of an apology than a letter. I love you. I’m sorry. Just below the two lines she had signed the note in loose, delicate script. Elizabeth, the letters so soft they might have blown off the paper with a slight breeze.
            David had tossed the note to the ground when he found it on the kitchen counter. They both knew the words were not intended for him. Laura didn’t know if the words upset him or if he could even comprehend their meaning, but she had kept the note and taped it to the top of the windshield before she and Will had left.
            The more she looked around, the more Laura realized how different Arizona and Georgia were. They had been driving for two days and the desert air just tasted cleaner. She had even started to welcome the monotony of driving endless hours, to be alone with her boy, the one child she had left.
            Until a month ago, the thought of leaving Georgia would have pulled every muscle in her body taut, like the strings of an instrument tuned over-sharp and threatening to snap with the slightest of movements. She may have found it easier to sleep at night on David's mattress of broken bottles, and Will’s back had as many scars as hers, but she refused to let her husband cripple him, too. Reaching up, she touched the word love on the letter scotch-taped to the windshield and pressed her fingers to her lips.
            A flash of silver brought her hand forcefully back to the steering wheel. A small Honda was merging into her lane. She spun the wheel hard to the right and locked her other arm in front of Will’s chest. She had overreacted. The car shook violently as the wheels met grass instead of pavement. They were tipping, then for a few seconds, trapped in a cage of crumpling metal and the shrill ringing of shattering glass.
            When they stopped moving, a moment of peace enveloped her, a flat-line before the world began beating furiously. Two hands helped her from the car. Her eyes darted back and forth, searching for balance, and then for Will. She could hear him, but she couldn’t find him.
            “Call 911,” a man’s voice hovered around her ear. Laura watched the blurred silhouette of a woman scurry away and the ambulance arrived moments later.
            Even though she was in pain, she could tell that their hands were gentle as they carried her away. Will was walking with them, and he was alright. The people filed away from the scene, leaving only a pile of mangled metal and a piece of paper, its corners starting to curl slowly in the heat.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Family Friendships

            So clearly I didn’t get around to posting earlier in the day. It’s after midnight but we will just call this my Friday post. I’m done with finals but I am now visiting my sister at Auburn before taking a trip out to Colorado during my one-week break.
            My sister and I are very different people. She’s an extreme extrovert has seen more friends in the past 24 hours than I could ever hope to know. I’m much more of an introvert as is probably fairly evident. We both tend to have gifts that are quite different than the other’s talents and interests.
            It’s been interesting to watch our relationship change over the past few years. We used to struggle communicating, and we had difficulty getting along many times, but as we’ve both gone off to college we have really grown to be better friends than we have to this point in our lives.
            I’m spending the next few nights with her here in Auburn, and getting to see life through her eyes. At least for one night, it’s been incredibly fun. I’ll keep tonight’s post short because it’s so late, but as I’m settling down, I feel incredibly lucky to be spending time with my sister, one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met and one of the people I trust most in this world.
            Here’s to you, Leslie. You’re the best. Love you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

World Series and Slow Pitch Softball

          As most people know the World Series is going to game seven tomorrow night. I’m actually writing while watching the game, and it got me thinking about how much I miss the game. I played from the time I could walk until this past May when my collegiate career ended. My first word actually was ball. I still carry a baseball in my backpack to class. I can’t help it; it’s been one of the things I love most for as long as I can remember.
            Now that I’ve stopped however, I have more of a love/hate relationship with the game. I can’t stop thinking about how much fun I’ve had over the years, but it’s hard to watch baseball on TV sometimes, much less relive my own experiences playing. Giving up something you love so much is incredibly difficult.
            A common saying I heard circulating the sport is that “sooner or later everyone plays his last game.” Like most sayings, this one has an entirely different feel from the other side. My senior season began with a return to Nashville to play Vanderbilt in our opening game of the season and ended with my last Ivy League start, a game that I actually pitched on a broken toe. Both are wonderful memories.
            As difficult as leaving baseball is though, it comes with several true blessings. One of which is that I am now playing slow-pitch softball with my dad. We actually played last night and run-ruled a team 15-1 in four innings. Pretty fun for the first time I’ve ever had the privilege of playing on a team with my dad.
             I guess it’s just one more transition I’m making in my life. Changing cities, changing schools, getting a job, moving out, why not start playing sports with my dad again? The loss may sting for months or even years, but for the rest of my life, I’ll be able to look back on playing softball with my dad and know it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I have my memories from baseball. Now it’s time to make some new ones.
            Here’s to sports, family, and lifelong memories.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lullaby for the Late Night Thinker

     I have a final tomorrow for grad school, so I spent the vast majority of the day studying and am just now getting around to writing. My night is finally winding down, so I figured what better way to calm down for the night than listening to one of my favorite songs by my favorite band.

Round Here - Counting Crows


Step out the front door like a ghost
Into the fog where no one notices
The contrast of white on white.
And in between the moon and you
Angels get a better view
Of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.
And I walk in the air between the rain, through myself and back again
Where? I don't know
Well, Maria says she's dying
Through the door I hear her crying
Why? I don't know
Round here, we always stand up straight
Round here, something radiates
Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand
She said she'd like to meet a boy who looks like Elvis
And she walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land
Just like she's walking on a wire in the circus
She parks her car outside of my house and takes her clothes off.
She says she's close to understanding Jesus
And she knows she's more than just a little misunderstood
She has trouble acting normal when she's nervous
Round here we're carving out our names
Round here we all look the same
Round here we talk just like lions
But we sacrifice like lambs
Round here she's slipping through my hands
Run home, sleeping children better run like the wind
out of the lightning dream
Mama's little baby better get herself in
out of the lightning
She says "it's only in my head"
She says "Shhhhh I know it's only in my head"
But the girl in the car in the parking lot
Says "Man you should try to take a shot
Can't you see my walls are crumbling?"
Then she looks up at the building
Says she's thinking of jumping
She says she's tired of life
She must be tired of something
Round here she's always on my mind
Round here hey man got lots of time
Round here we're never sent to bed early
and nobody makes us wait
Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late oh
I can't see nothing... nothing round here
Will you catch me if I'm falling
Will you catch me if I'm falling
Will you catch me cause I'm falling down on you
I said I'm under the gun around here
Oh man I said I'm under the gun around here 
And I can't see nothing 
Nothing round here.

     I consider Adam Duritz to be nothing short of a lyrical genius and this song really illuminates why. I've never heard a more beautiful first line, much less an entire song full of incredibly sharp emotions. Sooner or later every single person feels the overwhelming pressure of being inadequate and needing to change because you just aren't good enough. Justified or not, the emotion is universal, and incredibly sad.
     The song might not rock me to sleep in the most literal of senses, but there's a very real comfort in knowing so many people share the same pressures and emotional reactions. Perhaps that's what I like best about Adam Duritz's lyrics. He just understands people.
     Here's to being an individual.