Double Glazed

“It’s my job, Rick.”

“Whoa, they laying you off?”

“Nah, I’m good, I’m good.” James took a drag from the fresh espresso. “I’m on the phone with a person for a minute, two max—except today. Today I get a 20-minute window into this couple’s life. He puts me on speaker phone and walks around the house. This woman’s voice comes on. They’re laughing together trying to get the motion detector apart. The guy finally manages it and she’s, like, cheering.”

Rick nods in the slow quiet between them.

“I could use me some cheering.”

©2015 Sandra R. Davidson (Image)

Learning Love

Your partner will teach you how to love.

Mine brings me fresh, hot coffee as soon as I wake up. When I reciprocate, the appreciation is wordless and eyes find mine with adoration.

When I make sounds of waking, I come to a computer already booted and awaiting my password. I don’t always remember to do the same for him; a gentle smile is my reward when I do.

It puzzled me when we first dated. He locked me in his truck. Each time he hurried off to fill the gas tank or pick up the mail, he checked to see if my door was locked. I asked and he said the prized possession in his vehicle is me and the world isn’t genteel.

He teaches me how to love him, how to show him I care. I’m demonstrative in my own ways, and in those ways I show him how to love me also.

Young

YA friend of mine is one of the youngest people I know. She’s also hovering around age 70.

Simply contagious. It is as if all the extra protons attach themselves to nearby electrons, even those of strangers.

Gregarious ought to be her middle name. She drives from the north to the south borders of the west coast and east a ways too. She teaches anyone who has an eye for artful craft. This is an annual odyssey. People remember her–hard not to–and return each year to see what new product she has brought along.

With her there is no pretentiousness. She has no patience for thoughtless people yet she will spend all the time it takes to teach a child who expresses interest in crafts. Adults too when she senses sincerity.

There will come a day arthritis claims the dexterity of her fingers; it is already working its way to the bones. I expect she may become road weary. If not, the financial hassles of buying, selling, tracking earnings and reporting taxes may erode her enthusiasm.

Hard to imagine her confined to fewer road trips. Harder still to know she may not visit each year on her pilgrimage.

So I steep in her company when she is here, phone and email between. And wish, fervently wish I had met her so much sooner.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Whiskers

WOn a crowded countertop adorned with a black-and-gold brocade banner, a clear jar rests among cast iron and black lacquer. The jar lid is spiffed up with a colorful image of fruit.

“I know the jar looks empty. Just don’t toss it or wash it out.”

“What’s in it?” Passing curiosity orders he ask.

“Whiskers.”

“What?!” He lifts the jar. His vision is changing so the jar does look empty. He tips it back and forth.

“Remember when we had Simone put down? You wanted a bit of fur to keep.”

“Where did that end up anyway?”

“My jewelry box.” It is a place he is likely to forget and I am likely to remember. “Cats don’t have much fur and the dogs are both short haired. So…I’m keeping whiskers.”

He glances up to give me the strangest look. “How will you know which is which?”

“The longest belong to the Maine Coon. The next and blackest belong to the Siamese. The terribly short belong to one dog or the other.”

He laughs. “How exactly do you find kitty whiskers?”

“All over. The bathroom floor, my side of the bedspread. And the dogs are easy. If I find it in the bathroom, it is his. If I find any others near their bedding, they’re hers or theirs.”

His brows scrunch, “What are you going to do with all these whiskers, woman?”

“I will make a leather bag with a drawstring, one for each of us. Inside will be these and similar treasures.” I am remembering all the mourning lockets through history with carefully preserved hair of a loved one.

He tips the jar several times before coming around the counter to hold me and kiss my cheek.

His own hair I have set aside, a memento from when his hair was long.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

The Switching Station

SMy grandparents lived near an overpass beneath which a half dozen pairs of railroad tracks form a train yard, a switching station. This is where cars hitch up from one route to another, one engine to another.

It is a relatively quiet dance given the massive amounts of metal being shoved around. When the small town traffic and the highway noise reach a low, the steel wheels and rails sing. This became a lullaby of my childhood to which I fought sleep.

I returned at a point in my life when insomnia and had taken over my nights while confusion and sadness were starving me, literally. In three and a half weeks I had lost 32 pounds and could no longer keep water in my stomach. I didn’t feel and I didn’t care.

The first night, sleep wouldn’t come. I sat on the cement steps my grandfather had poured years before I was born; I fretted. I felt hollow of body and spirit. I felt a calm come on. It took some time to recognize the haunting lullaby still sings.

I slept.

The morning brought familiar smells and tastes at the table in my grandparents’ one-person kitchen. I ate some. During the day I ate the morning’s refrigerated ham between a room temperature biscuit. I sipped Southern sweet iced tea my grandmother kept refrigerated in what was once a one-gallon, glass pickle jar.

By the time I boarded the flight to Portland, Oregon, I felt physical relief. I was unsure what might have happened while I was in California. Sleep and time away helped me hold to the calming lullaby of the switching station.

Three children, my father lost to cancer left the two siblings. Eight grandchildren, one memorialized, and then great grandchildren. After 50 years of Grandma and Grandpa’s, we all mourned the day their home sold and they moved to another house.

Gone the scent of an old King James Bible read aloud in my grandmother’s cadence; the bounty of the garden my grandfather kept watered and weeded; the sight of their neat rows of multicolored canning jars on shelves beside his steel coffee cans filled with nuts, bolts and the aroma of WD-40.

The two-lane highway we used to cross to get to church three times a week is now two in each direction with the center turning lane bringing the count to five. Traffic never reaches a low.

I’m certain the wheels and rails still sing in the din.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

One Art

OI have been haunted for many years by Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle ‘One Art’.  Elizabeth Bishop chose a confining poem structure, the villanelle, to approach such a life-consuming event.

“The art of losing isn’t hard to master;” begins the poem.

I can’t find my glasses. I misplace keys then a wallet. I loan a book never returned. One starts early in life losing things. Some are of lesser value. Some seem devastating.

Read it. Find it in yourself and read it once more.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

With Child and With-Child

Dear Mr. Jesus,

“Unfortunately I can’t have any children, but I have raised and had several in my life. That ship has sailed so I just make the best of the little ones in my life now.”

via Not Mine | DEPRESSION: my muse.

You have grasped the solution I still struggle to accept. I don’t struggle often; with-child isn’t a title I will wear. Every now and again, my child slides its hands around my neck and squeezes until a lump forms, and then immediately am alone to recover in gasps, wheezes and tears.

Unlike you, children are a part of my life no longer. The children who were aren’t children anymore.

Your grace and acceptance humble me.

©2013 Sandra Davidson