There are some things you just can’t hold on to:
The keys to the shed, the keys to the car,
The king of clubs in the Bicycle deck.
The cold clouds of Spokane traveled
Cross-country to find you, but an umbrella? No.
There are some things you can’t hold on to.
Your birth certificate is gone again;
You ask her where you left it. It’s just
One of those things you can’t hold on to.
And when she does not answer, and shrugs
Into your best raincoat and leaves
The screen door open, it is to you to realize:
There are things you can’t hold on to.
photograph by Suzanne
A lucite carousel of photos, always flipped
To my grandfather laughing on his birthday.
In the smallest corner, the fat white star
Of a toddler's reaching hand. The edge
Of my mother's brown shoe. And, like comets,
The eyes of all, drawn to my grandfather laughing.
On the edge near the table, one wooden elephant,
One half of a set, one yellowed tusk gone.
photograph by Trey Lominack
What was on top of your family's piano?
after Sarah Winchester, 1839-1922
When I was born this town was young;
The street lamps had yet to be hung,
The infant dust lay in the street
And slept upon work-hardened feet
In coarse boots in the sun.
Great rooms will not bring back my son
Or husband; living has become
One endless staircase, incomplete.
(When I was born this town was young.)
I sought domestic refuge from
The spirits, every single one
A victim of my husband's heat,
His enterprise, his greatest feat,
the way the West was won--
When I was born, this town was young.
Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune, believed that her family was cursed after she lost both her husband and her son. She sought the guidance of a medium, who told her to move west and build a house for all the spirits--the ghosts of all those poor souls killed with Winchester rifles--and that should Mrs. Winchester ever cease construction on the house, she would surely die. Mrs. Winchester did as she was told, and moved to San Jose, California, where she began building what came to be known as the Winchester Mystery House. Construction did not stop until the heiress died at the age of 83; years of useless additions turned the house into a labyrinth of doors that led nowhere, staircases to the ceiling, and everywhere windows, steps, ladder rungs, in multiples of thirteen. You can learn more about the Winchester Mystery House here.
photograph by Shawn McClung
"The Kaluli people use birds as a clock and a calendar. Bird calls wake them in the morning, and afternoon calls tell the people when it is time to gather for a meal. Planting and harvesting are started when particular birds are heard singing in the forest."
-from Rain Forests of the World
Then why shouldn't I
do the same? They have
their forest of souls, their songs
to lift the spirit, but I
have a field guide, and screens
in all the windows. It will
take time to learn the hours:
the mourning dove at seven,
and I don't know what that is
just after sunset. But should
I succeed, I will know my own home
better than any. I will sleep
when the owls instruct me.
But swallows and orioles can't
keep me here. In this old world
I am too young, and my lease
is nearly up. In three months,
new windows, new birdsong,
more on the Kaluli relationship with birds here.
photograph by Sandra.