I am a paragon of virtue. I have no other choice. I do not have a figure. I have no sultry voice. I’ve no talent at kissing. The boys leave me alone. I have no lovers calling me nightly on the phone.
I get my thrills from scripture. I embroider and I tat. The creature that I cuddle with is an old grey cat. Sometimes virtue’s chosen, but it isn’t so with me. I’d rather spend my weekend nights on some feller’s knee.
But it isn’t in the cards. It’s just my Ma and me. I guess I’ll just be buttoned up instead of brash and free. My ma found a new hired man. He isn’t very tall. A moustache but no muscles. Not swashbuckling at all.
But he has a good strong back. He carries water for me. And for reasons I can’t fathom, he seems to adore me. It’s one morning in the cow barn, milking Bossie, that I miss
the bucket with the milk stream when the hired man plants a kiss
on my neck as I bend over. It makes that old cat’s day. He opens up his mouth and drinks as I just dream and sway then turn to open my mouth, too, and see how kisses feel when they are given mouth-to-mouth. It makes me almost reel.
But Hank the hired man catches me, sets me straight again, and that’s the starting of my life as a paragon of sin! Sinning’s not so bad at all. You can’t believe the preacher. And it’s not so hard to do when you have a teacher.
Lessons started in the milking barn but ended in the loft. The hired man got handsomer as he took his clothing off. I think he liked me better, too, when I was in the buff for no matter how much more I showed, it never seemed enough.
We had a lovely time up there, the hired man and me. As testament, now seven kids cluster round my knee. The hired man’s beside me. As I sit and hold his hand, he runs his fingers back and forth across my wedding band.
The old gray cat’s still happy, for sometimes he still gets lucky
when I’m distracted in the milking ’cause my husband’s feeling plucky.
Married life is lovely. We’re happy, him and me. We are paragons of loving for perpetuity.
Even when she’s in the buff, he feels she’s not revealed enough. He wants to know her heart and soul— to know her entire being, his goal. But, alas, she cannot do it. If she does, she knows she’ll rue it. Much as she loves a certain sir, there is a certain part of her that must remain a mystery. For in this maiden’s history are other suitors it behooved to have her secrets all removed. But when she revealed it all, one by one, they did not call. And thus she learned a maiden’s rule: Men are fickle. Men are cruel. Lest you be put up on a shelf, keep parts of you safe in your self. To keep him interested in your stuff, Most of you is just enough.
If you want true love to be your fate, heed the advice I here relate: the subtle art of love’s debate requires words that resonate— that tease and lure and serve as bait— that charm as well as educate.
Many a lover learned too late that loneliness would be his fate because what he chose to relate in one fell swoop on a first date seemed only to exacerbate or even worse to detonate.
Suitors, weigh your words inside before you choose to rage or chide. To stroll love’s pathway, walk the walk. Take time to listen as well as talk. Your questions will win you more hearts than trying to display your smarts.
The greater part of conversation lies not within one’s recitation. Instead of gross bombacity, express your curiosity. Love plans require less machination. Just greet her words with fascination.
“Violets contain ionone, which short-circuits our sense of smell. The flower continues to exude its fragrance, but we lose the ability to smell it. Wait a minute or two, and its smell will blare again. Then it will fade again, and so on.” — Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Violets” jdb photo 2017
Saying It with Flowers
A lovely gesture, the violets—
but their scent vanished
before you walked out the door.
“It will come back,” you promised.
And so it did, that sweet aroma,
radiating from the deep heart of the flowers
for brief moments before
coming and going with a greater regularity
than your coming and your going.
“There is a scientific cause for this,” you noted, ” The fragrance is still there,
but we just lose our ability to smell it. It will come back again.” And you were right. I could count upon it’s reappearance— the mystery of its coming and its going solved, unlike your final exit or why, when I requested forget me nots, violets are what you gave.
In them, I talk about his eyes. What they say to me across the room. His foot against my foot under the table. The rush of air as he walks by. His body’s honest odor. I can’t pull away, he can’t look away. And yet we do what is necessary.
When I write what I really want to say, I stuff the pages in my shoes. Limp over them. Dance over them, too. Let other gentle men dance me over songs of him.
I’ve folded him a paper mouth to house his tongue. I want my words on his palate where he can taste them salty fragrant cheeks gums tongue.
I want his tongue to press my words against my cheek, tattoo them on my face where I can see them in the mirror.
Instead, I fold them into origami castles, set them on the sand, hope the wind and seagulls free them before beach squirrels shred them into their full cheeks and carry them to hidden burrows in the hillside.
The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write a letter in the form of a poem. This poem is about love letters.
“Love Charms” mixed media assemblage, Judy Dykstra-Brown
When in Love
Life’s puzzles all seem solved when love makes you replete. It fills in all your caverns, making you complete. No matter what the the time frame: a lifetime or a minute, love is not an abstract when you’re firmly in it.
You flavor my memory with common tastes: Spam and corned beef hash.
You wanted to be the common man, but you were anything but.
The bold aggression and the subtle feminine sweep of what you formed— beautiful. Your hands never clumsy as they sculpted wood and stone. Metal bent and melted into beauty at your touch,
and colors lifted the wings you gave them.
I floated, also–– too independent to be formed by you, but still uplifted that a man like you could love me. It validated something in me—those hard choices I had made
because I listened to something vivid in myself I had not yet found a name for.
Dreams taught me. And synchronicity. I had always wanted to be a wanderer—to try to quench those yearnings that had haunted my daydreams since I was a child. I cut the ties that bound and wandered West to find you—stable man pinned by your wings to obligation all your life. Instead of pinning me down, you wandered with me. The gypsy life of making and selling art. The easy camaraderie of that circus life. The vans and wagons circling every weekend in a different convention center parking lot.
Nights pulled into the woods or by the ocean.
Short nights in transit, parked in neighborhoods where we’d be gone by six.
The song of tires on the road, Dan Bern and Chris Smither. Books on tape.
Pulling quickly off the road to lug a dead tree or a well-formed boulder into the van
or to engineer its route up to the roof,
so we returned home as heavily laden as we had departed—
bowed under by the fresh makings of art.
The texture of our home life was silver dust and wood curls. Its sounds were the stone saw and the drills and polisher. The heat of the kiln hours after it had lost its art. The fine storm spray of the sandblaster, the whine of drills and whirling dervish of the lathe. The smell of resin, redwood, stone dust, paint. The sharp bite of metal. The warm bread smell of cooling fired clay. Every bit of my life was flavored by what you loved––what I loved, too, our interests merging so completely that for awhile
we had no separate lives, but one life welded end-to-end. These remembraces are not organized or filed. They flutter into my mind like hidden lists blown off tall shelves. That life now a scrapbook of the past with certain photos plucked out to be tucked under bedroom mirror rims or carried in wallets.
Snap. You put yourself into my mind. Snap. Another memory follows, and I am an old woman replaying her life. Snap. The creak of the tortilla machine across the street in the early hours. The loud rush of the surf, the rattling startup of a motorcycle. The raspberry seed between my teeth, the scent of the dog’s bath still on my hands, sand gritting the sheets and art projects taking over every surface. Snap. I am me, looking for the next adventure.
Below photos snapped a few minutes ago. Proof of the tale. New projects. Click on first photo to enlarge and see all photos.