Blind Strike











{September 26, 2009}   Link to New Blog

I have a new writing blog! Please check out:

http://www.southwestauthorsguild.com/blogs/blogger/Erin/

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{July 25, 2008}   An Immodest Proposal

The girl was hard-trodden. Her path had led her across continents and oceans. She had fought her way through skyscraper forests, sheltered in flamenco caves, and sojourned under the wing of a dragon. The boy was heart-weary with waiting for the girl to settle her feet, for the flames inside her to yield to the fire between them. He did not know that up in the icy ranges of the north it had already happened. Each day they spent apart the girl became more sure that while she could live without him, she really preferred not to. She cradled her intention, named it, and put it away, waiting for a sign.

It came on a winter evening. The boy and girl sat together on a bench between worlds, surrounded by red and pink chamelia and purple trumpet vine. The bird bath perched under the maytens in a sea of ground cover, and climbing rose stretched on the lattice above. The girl saw her saint-guarded childhood window, shut with drapes drawn, and as she looked up at the boy she felt her love for him like a warm mist all around her. She brought her intention out from hiding and showed it to him.

Mikey, she said, you make me so happy,

Mikey, I want to be with you always,

Mikey, will you marry me?

She watched the words transform him, surprise and, unmistakably, joy radiating like moonlight from his blue eyes as he turned and smiled. He had chased her to the ends of the earth, sacrificed countless desires to be with her once more, and always she had found new ways to run. But now, he could see, as he caressed her hand and searched her face, the chase was finally over.



{April 13, 2008}   Shock Absorbtion

 for Jason

 

It wasn’t long ago, less than a year

that I slipped on this batting glove

twice a week all summer, the same grubby

glove that sits before me now

was then new, bought to reduce

the shock of rough vibration when my aim

was off, which was most times,

 

but Jason kept on pitching me,

made fun of my blinding

Alaska-Irish legs; he stepped up

every game, even when the strike zone eluded

and when he smiled, the whole team laughed,

and when he got down, I felt the drag from first

and punched my glove thinking, Shake it off

buddy, shake it off

 

Jason, I remember the day

you showed up with a new bat for the team

We named it Ex-Caliber; it shone white

in the sun and I fawned over it to let you know

how nice it was: none had money to spare, on this team

composed of writers, waiters, and bartenders

 

I don’t remember if you wore

batting gloves that Saturday morning

we hard-core bar leaguers were out

once again to shag a few balls and

shake off our Friday-night sins,

when you took Ex-Caliber

in hand and swung,

felt the barrel plastic give

instead of bounce

 

I don’t know if you felt the sting,

but I remember that forlorn look on your face

trying to tough it

as you ran a finger along the crack;

it is the same look I wear now when I remember

the Chugach Mountains yawning around our little diamond

and think of your charming smile,

which I will never see again



{April 1, 2008}   The Seeing

the Seeing was preceded

by a feeling of about-to-see

before that, an image, a thought

of what might be.

light matter, which is wave and particle

streams out from the source and penetrates, is absorbed into permeable,

which is like receiving a promise

a tangible sign of God

The caring, equal treatment of this light

shows the kind of love we can expect

from the universe, not favored beings

the haves who deserve to have

the dead who deserved to die

but the love of regeneration winding

ever down to us from sun on high

winding and blasting through all canopies

in time

a few moments ago, when I was alone,

I saw light for what it really is, saw it

flinging with my bare eyes, and light was a river

composed of tiny, violent drops



Javelina reappeared over the top of the rise, the rest of the herd circling back behind him. They were about fifteen Peccaries in all. 

They came back to the edge of the pool, where Squirrel squatted over the waterlogged pear. The mud was swirled with pear juice and blood from Squirrel’s pierced lip. The herd formed a semicircle around Squirrel and Javelina stepped forward, grinding his long canines together, top against bottom. The sound was like rock on rock. Javelina grunted, and a female stepped forward from the semicircle. When Javelina sounded a high-pitched clack, the female proceeded to rub the back of herself all over Squirrel, who let out a series of worried squeaks, but held her ground and stared at Javelina’s hooved feet.

When the female was done, she stepped back, disappearing into the herd.

Squirrel now smelled like them. She could almost taste the odor rising off her fur.

“Eat!” Javelina said proudly, stomping his hoof to the ground. He rotated his snout and proclaimed, “Eat and become one of us!”

Squirrel, who was weak with hunger and shaken by her strange experiences in the desert, had no strength to resist. She would do what Javelina commanded. She sank her teeth into the prickly pear, and let the spines bite her. A stream of juice flowed over her lips.

“This one is under our protection!” Javelina said. “Her name will be White Paw. And now let us show her what it is to be javi-born!”

Grunts and clacking noises rose from the herd. They began to shuffle and sway in a peculiar oscillation, raising their hind legs out behind them  one at a time, dew claws flashing in the moonlight.

A young javi stepped forward and lifted White Paw with his snout. Soon she was flying through the air and when she landed, she shook and stomped her paws and kicked her hind legs in the air. She shimmied and undulated like a fish out of water. She moved like Cobra moved, and like the herd moved around her.

Together, Squirrel and the javelinas made a rhythm that could be heard for many miles, a rumbling that would protect them by making them sound many times more numerous than they actually were.



{February 26, 2008}   To my Brother

You are the greatest gift to me.

Did you know this?

How I secretly longed for a brother, and then you came?

And the world was so simple then, for me too, I remember. I cried more when my first kitten died than I did when I lost my friend two months ago. My friend is gone. My kitten is gone. Ryan, my innocence is gone, and it is that to which you cling so desperately. 

I know you, I know why. You were the most adorable baby in your overalls with wide blue eyes. You were the loud-laughing carefree young boy who cautioned himself, “Always remember  to have fun,” as if you knew what was coming.

You did know. We all know. We see it in our parents’ faces, our grandmother’s wilted eyes. Loss is everywhere, my brother. Unless we die together, a day will come when I lose you, or you lose me.

It has not been easy watching you grow and struggle, healthy as I know it to be. I have tried to tend you with love and attention, though it never seems enough. I don’t want you to feel alone, though it is inevitable. I have never felt I spend enough time with you.

Do you remember when I scared you? The night you were opening the garage door and you cried and cried. I’m so sorry. It was a mean thing to do. You have never been mean that I know of. You carry so much purity forward, even as you lose what can’t be kept.

And there are gains, Ryan. There is also hope. She may not be in your arms right now, but you have brooked the peace to be had in helplessness. You have done all you could, your best, to bring her to you.

These are the pains that bind us to the page. In this family there are gifts, my brother. And we reach an age when we cannot live without their constant use.

Your writing is beautiful.

Your path is your own.

You will always have my love.



Javelina introduced Squirrel into her herd and let her drink from their pool. A few of the herd looked at Squirrel with hungry eyes, and she shivered at the sight of their sharp lower canines covered in drool. But Javelina assured her she would not be eaten. “Come morning,” she told Squirrel, “you will become one of the herd.”

Squirrel was herself growing unbearably hungry. She frequently tongued the side of her cheek, where the false acorn had sat and comforted her. Squirrel slept fitfully, and awoke in the night to a strange sight. The herd was spread out in front of her, Javelina approaching with an object in her mouth. She spat out a prickly pear, succulent and gleaming in the moonlight. Squirrel could smell it immediately. She thought about tearing it open and feeling the juice drip into every corner of her mouth.

“Do you want this?” Javelina asked. Squirrel, becoming wary, nodded. “Take it then,” Javelina said. And so the games began.

 Squirrel lunged for the fruit, but Javelina grabbed it and tossed it behind her. A male javelina grasped it in his mouth and trotted away. The rest of the herd scattered and clacked with delight. Squirrel scampered after, but as soon as she got close enough to wrestle with the leader, a burly Peccary with chipped hooves, he tossed the pear to another. It went on like this, Squirrel running herself ragged while the javelinas laughed and played keep-away with the prickly pear. One of the younger Peccary’s kicked Squirrel, bruising her in the side. When she tried to fight back, the javelina’s mother flashed sharp teeth and gave a menacing grunt.

Eventually, tired and beaten, Squirrel gave up and lay down by the pool, resting her bruised side. Then the herd gathered around her, and she heard the sound of the prickly pear splashing in the water. She ignored it at first, but then Javelina came forward. Without saying a word, she thrust her snout under Squirrel’s belly and tossed her into the pool. Squirrel, who hated swimming, squeaked in protest. The herd waited quietly to see what she would do.

 When she’d calmed down, Squirrel began to swim in circles. She didn’t want to go back to the herd; she was angry. “Pigs!” she yelled out, and a grumble rippled through the herd. Javelina snorted in amusement.

“Don’t be upset!” she said. “If you bring back the pear, they will accept you.”

 “I don’t want to be accepted by you!” Squirrel cried. The spot where the little javelina had kicked her radiated with pain.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!”

“We can show you our ways and help you survive.”

“Your ways are cruel!” Squirrel said. “Leave me alone!”

The herd was silent. Javelina turned then and began to lead them out of the basin. As Squirrel watched their backsides retreat in unison, she began to feel cold and afraid. Where would she sleep? What would she eat? Or rather, what would eat her? 

She could see the pear at the bottom of the pool and now she dove for it. It took three tries–her body was not made for swimming–but finally she managed to wrap her lips around the fruit and hold it in her mouth as she swam upward. The spines pierced her mouth, and the pain made Squirrel swim harder. Soon she made it to the shore, where she dropped the pear in the mud.



{January 7, 2008}  

There is life all around me. From my window on the fourth story I hear voices in a language I do not recognize, vaguely French or South African, laughing at jokes; a woman moans loudly and her cries echo through the alley below, up between two tall buildings filled with windows, each one a gateway into loss.

Jason, it has been a month since you left us, since the thought of you became so filled with pain I can hardly face. There have been holiday parties, fights, love, disappointment, tenderness. Since a man you would have tried to help took your life. I feel pain knowing you can no longer experience these emotions, and guilt knowing that I still can. I have imagined it many times, you rolling down your window, on instinct greeting a stranger with a smile. And the rest I can’t quite bring myself to type.

If you are in a better place, this world is relatively not so good. And if there is bliss where you are now, if there is comfort, then my life will amount to a negative comparison for bliss and comfort. And isn’t that depressing? I wonder what you would have thought of that. Because you believed in things, or at least you wanted to, and you found peace and comfort in this world through your faith in the next one. I am a masochist, then, clinging to life. Maybe that’s why only some of the best people I’ve known have died in this way, a victim of circumstance, out of control.

I want to hurt knowing you’re gone. I don’t want to forget it and turn the page, but I know I will. I won’t forget you, but it will cease to burn so fiercely, and for this I feel guilt also, preemptively. You see I want to mourn you, Jason, I want to say your name and bring you back. I want to see you pitching softball again and cheer you on from first base. I want to make the out when I catch your throw. I want to relive the time you ran all the way from the mound to first base because you tripped out and wouldn’t throw it, or the time you stopped pitching and asked the bleachers to give you some love if they wanted the game to go on. I want to see Matt running out to hug you, everyone laughing and clapping as he runs back to the stands.

I wish I could redo Thanksgiving, when you wanted to talk about writing program drama and I shut down the conversation because talking about those things made me too mad. What would you have said? I’ll never know. I collect thoughts of you, each one a pinprick reminding me I am alive, and I suffer, I love, I regret. I am writing and you are not, I am breathing and you are not, I will meet new people and lose many more beautiful friends. It is all so depressing. Except your mark on this world is real. You have created miracles. I have begun to do the things that will improve my fortune, the things I was holding back on changing. You are gone now and it reminds me not to wait, there is no time to waste, no fear greater than facing that moment you have faced. No sleep deeper than the dream I wake in.



{December 4, 2007}   Remember Jason Wenger

My friend was killed senselessly in Anchorage yesterday. This link is to a department blog memorializing him:

http://web.mac.com/sherrysimpson/CWLA/Blog_2/Blog_2.html



{November 24, 2007}   Squirrel’s Journey: Javelina

The sun sank below the horizon and Squirrel kept running though her lungs burned and her paws ached. The cool scent of water grew stronger with each stride and finally, when she thought her legs would give out, she crested the last dune.

Javelinas gathered around the pool below, which spread out in its basin and crept to the edge of a sheer cliff. Squirrel was crestfallen to see there were no oak trees, only cactus. The javelinas, which resembled boars with no tusks, sniffed the wind and turned their heads toward Squirrel as she picked her way down the prickly slope. Cactus of all kinds flourished here, blooming egg-shaped cactus and some of the tallest sujuaros Squirrel had seen yet. She made her way to the cliff’s edge, and looked out onto miles of desert below. It was calming to be up high. A slight breeze cooled her skin and made her shiver.

A snorting sound behind her made Squirrel jump. A javelina had detached itself from the herd and now stood only five feet away. It was hard to make out much detail in the fading light, but judging from the piercing look in javelina’s beady eyes, and the rigid posture of its triangle-shaped head, Squirrel thought this one must be in charge.

 “Hello?” she said.

Javelina pawed the ground and opened her mouth, revealing pointed teeth. “What are you doing here?”

 Squirrel gulped. “Cobra. Cobra said I could find…” The idea that there might be acorns anywhere nearby seemed ridiculous now, and she shook her head, scratching her head with one paw.

Javelina snorted loudly. “Cobra? There are no cobras here, little fool.”

“But, I went into his den and he gave me this acorn.” Searching the inside of his cheek for the sweet meat, Squirrel tasted a mound of sand and spat it out.

Now Javelina squealed with laughter. “You were tricked,” she said, “by a desert shaman. Sit down. I will tell you a thing or two about this place.  But first, where are you from?”

Squirrel shook her head. “I don’t know. I think I was born here.”

Javelina raised her snout in amusement. “I doubt that. No matter. Wherever you’re from, you live on the coast now.”

“The coast?”

“Five hundred million years ago,” Javelina said, nodding toward the land beneath the cliff, “all of that was an ancient sea. Can you imagine it?”

Squirrel pictured waves lapping against the rock face, water reaching to the horizon. “It doesn’t seem possible,” she said.

“But the land has told us its story,” Javelina said. She shook her small tail and approached Squirrel, standing beside her. “Our kind has walked the desert for centuries, and we have many visitors. That friction of water meeting land, it lingers here. It draws many. Though we can’t see it now, that sea stood almost as long as it has been dried up.”

Squirrel imagined the prickly cacti as coral and anemones on an ocean floor, Javelina, a little fat fish.

“The energy is strong here,” Javelina continued, “easy to change and use, for those who know how. The snake you saw was a mimic, probably a harmless lizard, showing off his powers of illusion.”

“Why would he bother to trick me?”

Javelina laughed. “Even shamans get bored sometimes. But don’t worry. This one, it seems, was harmless…I like you, little one. Why don’t you come have a drink from my pool. Travel with our herd awhile. My kind will protect you. Stick with us and you might learn a thing or two about your home.”

Squirrel had begun to shiver as the air rapidly cooled. Her thirst made the choice for her, and soon she was drinking from the desert pool, flanked on all sides by Javelina’s kith, who produced quite a bit of natural heat.



et cetera