Alternate Realities

If I lived a different life, perhaps we’d give it a try

But there’s an ocean of reasons why not

(which makes it all the more intriguing).

Instead I’ll just sit close and find things to say

that require me to lean in closer

And ask you to repeat yourself so we can linger

a little longer face to face

In this world of future days unlived where maybe

we’d be happy together

Given a different context and circumstances,

If only.

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In transit

The day I left the air was thick with the promise

of rain.

Unapologetically warm, unmistakably

summer.

We sat outside, admiring the sparrows for their petite

portliness as we ate, pitying the pigeons in contrast. Except

the ones with the iridescent coats … a redeeming quality,

we agreed.

We walked up the walk up. Up and up

and up, to the sixth floor labeled five.

We gulped down water from the tap and you declared

it tastes better here.

We sat on the couch in front of the fan and you breathed deep

and slow, like an astronaut

stepping off the shuttle and taking his first glimpse of space

untethered.

We didn’t speak for a long time.

Eventually it came time for me to leave.

I handed the cab driver my bags reluctantly and waved out the window

in the same way.

The first forty minutes of the hour-long ride to the airport

were silent. Then the clouds broke

and the car raced against a spittooning so deafening

I had to cover my ears.

I thought about calling, but only for a moment.

I didn’t have anything to say.

I just wanted to hold the phone to the sky and tell you

to listen.

You may enter

“Doors are opening,” the recorded voice repeats.

People squeeze on and shuffle off at each

of the 17 stops between home and work, mentally

preparing themselves for the day ahead or perhaps

savoring the last moments of personal time before their shift begins,

the meetings start, and they sell it to someone else.

Seventeen times the voice repeats:

Doors are opening.

Seventeen stops home. People wearily popping in earbuds,

blocking out the day or the bus ruckus or intruding thoughts

about what they didn’t get done or have yet to do. Staring

out windows wistfully, looking down at their phones numbly. All the while,

the voice is consistent and insistent:

Doors are opening.

34 times a day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year…

8,840 reminders that doors are opening.

8,840 doors have opened.

On the most mundane Monday:

Doors are opening.

In the midst of the shittiest of shitty weeks:

Doors are opening.

Despite what you believe about yourself or your circumstances, or perhaps

because of that:

Doors are opening.

And one day you will hear this. And one day you’ll believe it

and alight.

Waking

The perfume of early morning after the rain: Fresh, but not laundered sheets fresh.

Flowers opening, stretching towards the warm sun, but not

knitted blanket warm.

The ground saturated, but not

full meal satiated.

Blades of grass christened with glistening dew drops, but not

new car glistening.

Early morning after the rain: Everything is alive in its way,

and so are you.

Two Choices

Consider the ocean, the graceful flow of its give

and take. The sheer force of its forward motion, exploding

against whatever lies ahead, and the humility of its almost

instantaneous retreat.

 

Consider the jagged rocks enduring the tides, mutable

but not movable, allowing themselves to be shaped

by external forces. And still, resolved

to stand.

 

Consider the sea lions, oblivious to anything other than their most

basic needs. Struggling against their own weight. But huddled

and happy.

 

Consider the driftwood, whittled by the surf’s furious churning. Stripped, scarred,

and made beautiful by its surrender. And the fragments of shells, polished

and glistening like shiny pieces of trash that magpies steal

to decorate their nests.

 

Consider the deep silence of human footsteps on the soft paths

of redwood forest floors. The stillness of skylit mornings

and fireside nights. The nearly seamless blending of the built

with the natural.

 

Consider Mars, a glowing red dot, distant but prominent, not unlike

the fiery end of the cigarette you smoke on the deck while you contemplate

all the moments that led to this one, and whether future ones will measure up.

Before you stand on that ledge, above the swirling foam and errant logs

trapped and turning, and decide — despite everything —

to jump.