If by Loving

Silhouette_byMarkAHarrison

Silhouette by Mark A. Harrison

If by loving, you mean
conspicuous consumption
of one another’s souls,
devouring each hour
yet hoarding minutes
like secret treasure,
deluding ourselves
that we can keep time
tucked away, safe
in the faulty vaults
of memory – and yet
nowhere is entropy
more apparent, more
glaringly obvious
than in that
which we think
we remember.

– T.H.
(02.13.14)

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There’s a trick to painting water I

I woke up drowning yesterday
–I’d gone to sleep the night before
turtle-like on the ocean floor–
Forty fathoms in, and still waiting;

Every day I breathe in oceans,
throw my arms wide
so the wind can catch me,
search for lost gods
in dime store baubles,
study reflections
in muddy puddles;

Every day I hear
symphonies written by ghosts
memories of strangers
dissolved in whispers:

I woke up drowning yesterday
and you were there
But did you push me in
or pull me out?

I sometimes think
if I could find
a way to tear these
old walls down
I might find what I’m looking for
in the rubble and the ruin

I woke up drowning yesterday,
and someone saved me;

It could have been you.

– T.H. (Feb. 1, 2018)

New poem built from the bones of 3 older poems: I woke up drowning / Sleeping underwater, Forty Fathoms, & There’s a trick to painting water

House the Sun

TreesInMotion_byMarkAHarrison_med

Trees in Motion by Mark A. Harrison

If anything living
could house the sun
I bet it would look like you

Music from another world
makes us want to dance
hard enough to fall
into the future present
following fireflies
up into the silent
olive branches
sipping lilac soda
under spreading granite trees

Instead we reminisce
on the transience of memory
the still-green four-leafed clover
pressed between pages
of Webster’s pocket dictionary
Dust in the hallway
where we used to run
wrapped in ragged sheets
through our cheap
match-book museum
pretending to be ghosts.

– T.H.

Interlude

WinterLightSummerTree_byMarkAHarrison_med

Winter Light, Summer Tree by Mark A. Harrison

Doing boring grownup stuff is made infinitely better with a big fluffy coffee and a muffin on one side, and your sweetheart on the other. The city’s feet are slushy brown and the sky’s a muted grey, a few lazy white flakes drifting down as if they forgot where or why they were. One loose branch caught in the fingers of the others on the tree outside the window, hanging on despite the shivering breeze.

Snow

Seemed an appropriate theme for one of the coldest, snowiest Decembers we’ve had in a long time. Five original images by M, from the archives, in slideshow form. You can right-click to open a full-rez version in a new tab, where you can see all the insane detail that goes into one of these.

Here’s to the New Year picking itself up, dusting itself off, and putting on those well-worn, many-times-mended gloves for another round. We can do this, folks. It will get better!

 

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iv. But I digress

LeafCaught-byMarkAHarrison-messedwithbyme-2

Photo by Mark, messed with by me

In the absence of ambition, we become a conglomeration of tangents, an aimless wandering path laid down by the stick the dog is carrying: a scrappy, stocky, short-legged terrier beagle something or other cross, who has somehow outdistanced her loping, tongue-lolling, muddy pawed golden retriever pal, and is dragging a branch far too big for her size, but nowhere near equal to her spirit.

The broad line laid down in the dormant November grass, still wet with last night’s frost, will last for a few hours, at most; the sun has already thawed the exposed areas; only the shadows still carry hints of freezing, the ground crunchy and damp under recently unearthed winter boots.

A path laid down by accident, without purpose or intent, a temporary testament to life having passed this way, proof that momentum exists, that change is inevitable. And yet, itself, it is static, empty of life, mere black marks on a white background, bird tracks and fallen branches, a memory of what was, rather than a bold imagining of something new, something yet to come.

But if you follow the trail long enough, it will do at least one thing: it will bring you home.

Music: Thelonious Monk, Live in Japan 1963

iii. Cooking, and other creative endeavors

The components of the spell are there, the page in the recipe book yellowed with age, smudged and stained with cocoa and brown sugar and cinnamon – not because you need the recipe any more; it was memorized years ago, as instinctive now as any other everyday task. You know exactly what to reach for, in which cupboard, in which order. You have the perfect spoon, worn soft to the touch; the perfect bowl, beautifully weathered, scratched and dented, fine hairline cracks in the porcelain, like an old painting.

The smaller metal bowls ring when you clean them, a clear mild tone, teased into wakefulness by an enthusiastic swipe of the frayed checkered dish towel, encouraged to greater volume as the sink provides quiet settling background noises, the last soap bubbles sighing in resignation, collapsing, imploding in near-silent release.

ii. Art

Visualizing: the painter in her many layers: cotton, wool and fleece, an outer layer to break the wind, thick socks in practical boots, hybrid gloves – the kind where the finger tips detach and bend back to grip Velcro fasteners, leaving thin fingers free to freeze solid.

She stabs her stubby, short bristled brush into the orange, yellow, red, white, green, squinting in the dying light, painting more by feel and memory than sight. The application of paint is reassuring in its methodical swiftness, confident and direct, devoid of hesitation. The basic physics of the equation are those of a crafts-person, building a picture as one might a chair – the first rough cut, before the joining and sanding and polishing.

There are some of those on the wall too, quick sparse sketches, laid out in wide utilitarian strokes, slapped down in a hurry while the light lasted. They lack the glow of the two finished paintings; the canvas lies flat against the uneven bricks, no real sense of depth, despite the hasty blue shadows thrown across the snow, the flash of winter sunlight on the south-facing wall of the farm house – a depiction not so much of a specific building, but rather a symbolic representation of the idealized form of the southern Ontario concept of House: a sturdy rectangle with a triangular roof, three windows and a door, smudges that might be pine trees cozying up to it on either side. The sky is two shades of blue, the brush strokes reaching from ground to sky, as if following the memory of the last time the aurora borealis enveloped the house in dancing green fingers.

i. People

The lady across from me is wearing a long john top, the kind I used to wear as PJs when I was in high school, waffled grey with disconnected grey-blue stripes. Her long black and white homespun scarf partially doubles as a sweater, or a cloak. She’s wearing her toque indoors, despite the mild day: purple wool with a pink rim, topped with a perky navy blue pompom. I’m thinking she has bird in her ancestry, some ancient feathered dinosaur with a lean face tapering to a fine, sharp point, long skinny legs and hollow bones. If I were betting on who would be able to glide if thrown off a cliff, she’d be the main contender; so light she’d waft like a feather.