The Whippoorwill

She flashed her smile to my shadow

before she left that year ago with

no good-byes ever spoken disappearing

like a dream ghost erased by morning.

 

She led me into that night

of perfumed splendor

to her place by the water

where moss hung from trees

and gators ate their fill

while whippoorwills called,

while silent snakes slithered.

 

A full moon mourned us

starting what had already ended.

Dana’s Story, Part 6

Sorry for being remiss on keeping up with Dana’s story. It has been too long and I hope you readers have not lost interest. Part 7 is underway. Enjoy . . .

Jessica, or Jess, Morgan was an expert witness for an art theft case I was helping prosecute. She was a PhD in art history and ran a gallery specializing in old lithographic prints. She was single, in her late thirties, was tall, elegant, beautiful, and confident.

The case involved the theft of several prints from a private collection by a Chicago industrialist and we met to discuss the case several times over three weeks generally after six when she had closed her shop for the day. A few times we met over dinner or drinks and after discussing nuances of the case, we would talk of other things and about ourselves. 

She was a native of Chicago, she had studied at The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and earned her PhD at Columbia in New York. She was single and ran a successful gallery. Her father, a successful businessman, had died in a small airplane crash in Alaska when she was in college. Her mother still lived in Chicago, but she indicated they weren’t very close. She had a brother in New York City and a sister in Portland, Oregon, both married with two children each.

She wanted to know more about me and I gave her the bare basics and moved on. Another night she asked about my marriage but I dodged her question by changing the subject. She didn’t pursue it. 

Then, one Friday night, Russell went to his parents for the weekend after he left work right after lunch. He had insisted I go with him, but I refused and went on to ask him how he can take off work early so easily to go to spend time with his parents but never to spend time with me. He responded that he saw me all the time. I said the time he thought he spent with me was worthless, that I wanted his attention, to do things together. It turned into a full blown fight and he left with me crying.

Feeling alone, sad, and needing some company, I called Jess, she was free, so we made plans to meet for dinner. I ended up having one drink too many and my tongue was pretty loose plus with feeling angry and sad, when she prodded me again about my marriage, I let go and told her how unhappy I was and that I regretted ever getting married. Once started I couldn’t stop and I told her about our fight that afternoon and every last sordid detail of my lonely life. I was bordering tears by the time I finished my story. She reached across the table, took my hands, assuring me that that was not the way my life should be, that I should not have to be unhappy and feel alone, that marriage should be a partnership of love, sharing, enjoying time with each other, having fun. I asked how she knew so much not ever have been married and she just said that the right person hadn’t come along and changed the subject.

Her kindness and the alcohol pushed me then into full blown sobs. She paid our bill and got me out of the restaurant insisting I spend the night at her condo rather than going home by myself in the shape I was in. There was nothing left in me to resist her so I walked with her guiding and supporting me, my head on her shoulder, the one block back to her place on the second floor above her gallery.

We went in and I collapsed on her leather sofa and continued my crying jag. She brought over a box of tissues and took me in her arms and held me while I cried every tear I had needed to shed over all the years of my marriage. When my crying subsided into whimpers, he took me to her guest room, showed me the bathroom, gave me a night gown, and helped me undress and get into bed. I fell instantly asleep both from the alcohol and from being spent from crying. 

I awoke in the morning, confused in the strange room, not knowing where I was. The memory of last night started to return and the more I remembered, the more ashamed and stupid I felt. I checked the bedside clock and it was 9:30. I had a huge headache. Then the smell of coffee wafted in along with a rap on the door. I heard Jess ask if I was awake and she came in with a steaming cup and sat on the edge of the bed, touching my face tenderly, asking how I was feeling.

I told her about my head and she got two aspirin and a glass of water. She was mothering me and I loved her for it. I needed that more than I had realized. I tried to apologize for last night but she gave me a warm hug and said it was fine, that she was happy I confided in her and not to worry. She gave me a squeeze and left me to dress and join her for breakfast. 

I was surprisingly hungry and was treated to a breakfast of orange juice bacon, eggs, toast and more coffee. She suggested we spend the day together and to see the new exhibit at the Art Institute. With the aspirin, coffee and food, I was feeling better and thought it’d be fun. We took a cab back to my apartment so I could change into more casual clothes and comfortable shoes. Then we spent a great day together and we had dinner of pizza and a movie at her spacious modern condo with beautiful art and furnishings.

I met her again the next day and we spent Sunday together walking down by the lake enjoying the spring weather after another long, cold, dismal Chicago winter. She took my hand several times as we walked. I felt like a young girl again. Later that afternoon she walked me back to my apartment and made plans to meet for dinner on Wednesday night.

I arrived home mid-afternoon, happy with my new friend, exciting, smart, fun to be with and fun to talk to. I liked her a lot. Then Russell came in and my happiness immediately faded. He was pissed that his parents were upset with me that I wasn’t with him again and accused him of failing in his marriage, of not keeping his wife in line. He told them that he wasn’t failing his marriage and would make sure I’d be with him the next visit.

I retorted that I was not going to spend my time being around his meddling controlling mother and I would certainly not be with him next time. I went on to again say how unhappy I was happy with him not ever being around here or us doing things together, that I was lonely and felt ignored, that he could take off work to be with his parents and not with me. With that, he glared at me for a long moment, turned with his nose in the air and went to bed. The way he looked at me I fully expected him to hit me. I took a big breath and slept on the couch, got up and left early for work so as not to have to see him more than in brief passing.

The Dark Room

Six silent slabs of black surround me.

no door

no window

no escape

no rescue

no redemption.

 

Is the dark room closing in on me?

 

Will it crush the body as the mind?

Such vacuum of light sucks life

from my eyes

from my heart

from my mind

from my soul

from my time

to unfathomable emptiness.

 

Day & night now the same.

 

am I alive

or

am I dead

is

all the same

Leaving

She walked by —

flashing a smile of recognition to

my shadow before leaving that year ago.

 

No good-byes ever spoken —

she left like a dream ghost

erased by morning sun.

 

She led me into that forgotten night to

her place by forbidden dark waters

where moss hung from crooked oak trees.

 

A whippoorwill called from a lofty branch —

snakes slithered silently through tall swamp grass —

gators awaited their fill on the muddy bank below —

a full moon softly beckoned us to begin what had already ended.

how does a poem mean

how does a poem mean

asked the coyote who

appeared out of the desert night

 

I responded that a

poem’s meaning was

based on the coyote’s dream

 

of the next Rexroth or

Ginsberg to determine

why the wind blows on Mars

 

or of the next Pound or

Dickerson to determine why

we laugh at the sun and cry at the moon

 

and why we are alone

in the universe surrounded

by the drama of our karma life

A Ride Mister?

Lonesome highway blues,

itchy eyes — aching head,

steel guitar honky-tonk AM,

after an all night run.

 

Interstate 80 west, 

open full moon road,

the creative life blood soother of my soul.

 

She was sitting on a bench 

at the last rest stop before Wyoming emptiness 

in her paisley gypsy hippie dress, 

blond dreadlocks hanging free to a waist slender and taut,

ger eyes betraying longing sadness only the poet could suffer.

 

‘A ride Mister?’ she asked without spoken words.

 

Her backpack and soul fell into my rickety van

urgently asleep on a mattress from a late night dumpster

in my last night of confinement before the reaper came again.

 

On Medicine Bow Peak I dropped a sacred crystal

into the empty cairn — an offering to mountain gods.

 

She smiled approval when she kissed me peace.

 

An eagle circled above.

Prayer flags fluttered in silent air.

Dana’s Story, Part 5

After another month of my job search, I had three interviews, one with the District Attorneys Office. I was called in to the A.D.s office on a Wednesday and offered a position which readily accepted, although it certainly wasn’t my first choice, but it was a job and I would gain needed experience. I was to start work the following Monday.

Russell was happy for me but had to tell me that the D.A. job wasn’t the as good as if I had tried harder. My parents felt the same way. At this point, I didn’t care. I was employed and was getting really tired of Russell and his distance from me. But he was too tired most of the time to want any sex which was a welcome relief. I wondered if this is the way all marriages were. I remembered my parents being more like friends than couples I saw in the movies or on television. Maybe this was as good as it would ever be. 

I was received with open arms at the D.A.’s office on my first day. There were a number of junior lawyers who welcomed me and seemed happy I was joining them. Then I met again with the District Attorney, the first time was my interview. He welcomed me and showed me to my cubicle. He introduced me to Glenda, the senior attorney I would be working for, a short squat woman I guessed to be in her forties. She looked tired and worn out, but contrary to my first impression, she proved to be a ball of energy and fun to work for. She explained how our working relationship would be, handed me two briefs to research and directed me to the Human Resources Office where I filled out all the paperwork for my employment. Still wanting a bit of independence, I had opened a separate bank account and had my pay deposited there. I would be happy later that I made that decision. Back at my cubicle, I began my work.

The work was much more interesting than I had anticipated. Glenda was helpful and her guidance, invaluable. I liked her and the other members of our team. I seemed to fit in, was loving my work, was learning and producing more every day.

Several weeks had passed and my co-workers kept inviting me to join them after work on Fridays for drinks and maybe dinner. I felt obligated to Russell and always begged off. But he was hardly ever home until late most of the time and had usually had already eaten something. So, the next Friday when I was asked out after work, I accepted. We went to a sports bar that was a regular watering hole for the group. And I had fun, I had a lot of fun talking and laughing. Most of the group were around my age, most were single. I had several glasses of wine and was about ready to call a taxi to go home, but everyone insisted I stay and have dinner with them. I walked in the apartment around 9;30, well fed on a burger and fries and still a bit tipsy. Russell wasn’t home so I went to bed, read for a few minutes and fell asleep. From then on, Friday nights were my nights to go out and enjoy my life.

About a month later, I got home after my Friday night outing and Russell was already there, steamed that I wasn’t home when he arrived. I had had a bit too much wine and was feeling pretty silly and laughed, telling him I was out partying with my colleagues from work and that he should grow up. That didn’t go ever well and he told me I shouldn’t be out like that, that I was a married woman and it wasn’t right, it could reflect badly on him. My giddiness immediately turned to anger and I told him that I couldn’t care less what he thought or about how I might reflect on him, that he was never home, that he was being a pompous ass, that I was just out having fun and enjoying my friends, and he could go to hell. It went downhill from there and I went crying into the bedroom and locked the door, screaming that he could sleep on the couch.

I tried to reconcile the next morning by telling him how I felt about him never being home or us being together, about how he was constantly working or taking clients to dinner all to which he replied that it was required for his work and that I was being selfish. He was working too hard to waste time having fun and that maybe I wasn’t working hard enough. I was fuming, so I turned and went out for a stroll by the Lake to cool down. The next few weeks were filled with tension and I was thankful I hardly saw him. The only times I ever did see him was in the morning when we both were rushing get to our respective jobs. At night, I made it a point to try to be asleep when he got in.

Russell wanted for us to go to see his parents for a weekend every month or so. They were within an easy three and half hour drive. Des Moines was another two hours so I hardly ever saw my family unless I made it a point to fly there. Russell only went with me the first two times and always seemed to be too busy after that. After  two years, I stopped going with him to visit his except for maybe some holidays. I always wondered what they thought, what excuses he told them. 

I had no one to talk to about our problems, so I carried all my anger and confusion inside. Things finally settled down after those few weeks, but things had changed between us. It seemed as if Russell was wary of me now and even more disconnected, as if that were possible. From then on, for the next several years, we were living apart under the same roof. I was miserable and poured myself into my work and my colleagues. Then I met Jessica Morgan, an expert witness for a case I was working on. She changed my life in ways I would never have imagined.