Who Can Say

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Who can say what streams
through the mind of a tree frog
the size of a thumbnail,
like the one that jumped
in my lap this morning,
landing soft as a garden pea.
I flinched, looked down,
saw the rubber midget
just before it sprang again
and sailed into the lawn.

Butterflies startle less
and stay longer,
(ladybugs too),
poised on your arm or leg,
wings opening and closing
as if in demonstration,
as if attention is the point
and life is sparing
a few fragile seconds
to help you understand.

Or not.
Maybe nature just makes
wrong turns now and then,
and what looks like a lesson
is only a fluke,
a single addled creature
veering into chaos.
It’s your world,
you decide.

Coffee With An Ex

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Sometimes you reach back,
unearth an ex.
It never works, does it?

You’re not looking for trouble,
god no.
All you want is corroboration,
proof of where you’ve been.

You do not remember the intimacy,
though that was once your world:
the smell of her skin,
the way she kissed.
You do remember
her laugh, her anger,
her moments of grief.
Her youth is yours to keep.

The years have broadened her face,
coarsened her hair,
and this makes you tender.
But her stories only bewilder—
how can you both be right?
The distance between you
makes itself clear.
Who knew you would leave
with less than you came with?

You have more in common with a stranger,
someone who never met
the person you are not.

Photo by chichacha on Foter.com / CC BY

A Day Like This

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Mist rising;
sky a deepening blue;
treetops wreathed in morning sun,
and just enough breeze to ripple
the grass and nod the yellow tulips.

Above me swallows slice the air.
Short dark arrows, they never miss,
their flight too swift for error.

I bet they fly faster, farther,
on a day like this,
the way dogs on a beach,
will break into a run,
or cats on warm sidewalks
will stretch their full length,
surrender their bodies
to the splendor of heat.

How much have I missed
in the hurry of my life?
Bring me back
with fur or feathers,
let me claim
all that is mine.

The Dying See

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The dying see
what the rest of us don’t,
will speak to these phantoms—
often people long gone—
in a manner so earnest
we begin to doubt
our own senses.
Is heaven real, has a corner lifted?
Or do the minds of our loved ones,
unmoored from the task of living,
fall back to the beginning:
a state of infinite odds,
where fact and fiction
have no meaning,
and whatever we imagine
is waiting to meet us?

The Tyranny of Yoga Pants

Last week Honor Jones of the New York Times wrote an excellent article on the yoga pants tsunami. It’s good to know that I am not the only person mystified by the number of women who have decided that tourniquet tight legwear is a wardrobe must. And not just slim women; women of all shapes and sizes pry on their yoga pants and sprayed-on jeans each day and head out into the world, defiant as new parolees.

I don’t care if you have a rockin’ body, I don’t care if you don’t. I’m just tired of seeing so much of you. I never signed up for a free subscription to your ass.

“Yoga pants move with your body,” a woman explained to me, beaming at her thighs, which were shrink-wrapped in a dark gray material splashed with giant yellow daisies. Indeed your body cannot shake these pants; there is no escape.

Every time I see a girl in tight jeans—which is every day, many times a day—I cringe a little, imagining the difficulty involved in sitting, bending and walking. A fashion that limits movement, impinges on circulation and inhibits healthy breathing is not a product that favors liberation and empowerment.

Remember Grunge? Well I do, even though it lasted just half a minute back in the early 90s. Grunge fashion—for both men and women—was characterized by durable and cheap clothing often worn “in a loose, androgynous manner to de-emphasize the silhouette.” Decades later, men are still wearing comfortable clothes. Women, sadly, are not. I guess Doc Martens, loose jeans and flannel shirts did not contribute to the objectification of the female form. If a women’s body is de-emphasized, who will want it? Who will care? What is it worth?

What I recall most from the Grunge period was the way women carried themselves. The sureness of their movements, the nascent confidence. Women were finally realizing that they owned themselves, or could.

There are a handful of Olympic sports that benefit from tight uniforms. When winning is measured by a thousandth of a second, a second skin is the way to go. The rest of us have options, especially those who don’t know they do, who believe that yoga pants and tight jeans are tickets to personal freedom.

Comfortable, gender-neutral clothes are not easy to find, but they could be, and if you want to be your own gal, you might want to give them a try. Things are changing for women now. Here’s to freeing our bodies as well as our voices.

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What Ants Know

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There are ants that tend to their injured
by licking their wounds,
slowly transferring their own health
into fallen soldiers,
sealing fresh lesions against lethal bacteria.
Who can say why a creature as small as an ant
with so many hardy brethren,
would bother to stop—an hour if need be—
and help a troop.
In that tiny helmet of a head
are there neurons of compassion, of pity,
or are these ministrations automatic, instinct,
like the urge to tunnel or serve a queen
(what is instinct anyway
but a word for what we can’t explain?).
Some ants will even evac a battered brother,
not the terminal—those who have lost too many limbs
to the brutal jaws of termites—
but the ones who, with proper attention,
may fight another day.
The medics sense the difference
and do what they can
before moving farther afield,
gifted with the knowing
there is not a moment to spare.