Endless Summer

When I saw it, I knew. It was van Gogh. I knew it not by his distinct style, but by the raw emotion that radiated off the inanimate canvas. I stood at the opposite end of the gallery and cried.

It was endless summer.

Specifically, it was “Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun” hanging in gallery 355 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Experts believe it depicts autumn, November in Saint-Rémy, based on the vibrant orange and yellow paint. It was created just seven months prior to his suicide. It stands as the only time art has moved me to tears. And what moved me was how he captured the sunlight.

I know that blazing day.

I forgot about endless summer. Life became as adult life does, a series of days in which there is work to be done for the sake of survival, and a shot at happiness one day when the bills stop exceeding the money. When you’re young, all things are possible if you can just decide what you want to do.

Endless summer of youth.

There was a large field behind the grade school with a gravel track and baseball diamonds. It was June and it was covered with dandelions. Some had turned to seed. And I lay there, relaxed. No hurry, no worry… uncommon for me. In that moment of breeze and blazing sunshine that broke behind the passing clouds, the dandelions glowed as if they were lights themselves. I felt like I belonged. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I felt one with creation.

All was right with the world.

Laying in the field behind the school in the last days of junior high, dreaming of the life to come, blowing cottony seeds in the wind like candles for wishes. What does the future have in store for me? Will I be happy? Will I be loved?

I, so consumed with grief at the tender age of 12. I, who sought solace in the arts and nature. I, who buried myself inside my own head, inside my dream world. I was ill prepared for the hard realities that would become my life.

But that girl… she was in love with the promise of endless summer.

Life back then, it was hard. I never felt safe or like I belonged anywhere. I knew I would escape to high school. I was convinced that it would be a better experience for me. I was wrong. I was wild and out of control. 13 years old in massive grief with a fuck-off attitude. Not much has changed.

While other girls were concerned about the brand of jeans they wore or their hair and make-up, I was trying to come to terms with my father’s death and the upheaval in my family. I couldn’t relate. I couldn’t see the value of the trivial concerns of others. I still can’t. But innocence was how I was supposed to be. That was stolen from me at too young an age.

That girl… she cried for van Gogh.

We make our choices and try to live with the consequences. Once I was in college, I worked my ass off. I never wanted to be financially dependent and vulnerable to anyone else. People hide how abusive they are… people die. So, as I watched other young people be young, while I held my face to the grindstone, time slipped away. Those years I was meant to be light and free, gone.

But twenty years later, I took up cycling.

That first summer ride along the bluff of the Mississippi River under the sparse clouds and impossible blue sky- that light made the leaves look silver; the heads of flowers, tiny lamps. The sun outlined every detail in the fabric of life. The endorphins rushing through me sucked all the color through my eyes and etched it into my brain.

Endless summer means peace, it means being fully present, it means being shocked into the now by the astonishing beauty of the natural world. It is being in harmony with the flow of life without distress. And on that day, it was OK for me to hope, OK for me to want love. I did not have to be embarrassed by my longing of dreams forgotten.

That endless summer day split my flaming heart.

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, June 2019

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Life Is

To explain to someone
Yes, I see you
Yes, grief has terrible power
Yes, the closing window of opportunity
That time inches shut is real
But maybe, just maybe
Our dreams and expectations
Of this life are not real
Not realistic
You have good reasons
But the complexity of their birth
More than a two-minute conversation can explain
So, you are left
With judgement from others

People will come
People will go
It’s OK
At the end of today and every day
It will all begin and end with you anyway
Giving the gift of freedom
Is an act of love
Giving the gift of a second chance
Is an act of love
Anger will always be
A close companion
But it can exist, then go away
Leave you in peace, to rest
To enjoy a little, laugh a little

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, June 2017

Bitter Fruit

The years pass
In two’s and three’s

You still are as you were
Softer, harder

Not bitter, so bitter that
No one calls or visits
Or wants to talk to you

You are given a choice everyday
Where you want to go
What you want to do

If it is to be enraged
Yet one more day
About what might have been
You are free to do so

But the years will pass
In two’s and three’s

Walking the treadmill
Money in, money out
Sex maybe, food always
Death upon death upon death

Pick the dandelions while you might
Blow them into the wind

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, April 2017

Young Love

This is after all, a love story
The dumbest people on the planet
Are 20-somethings in love
God bless them

Suck the marrow out of that
Because as the pain comes
And the disappointment comes
We grow to become

Ashamed of our longings
Afraid to express what it is
We really hope for from one another
You get to be free

Young and beautiful for now
You get to not worry
If your body will fail you
In the midst of passion

You don’t have the needs or the wants
The dreams of your little child
To worry about as you run long and hard
Headlong into your own

Go, be, live it.
There are decades of being practical ahead
Be precisely impractical
While you can

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, March 2016

Sands of Time

You do not have that kind of time
You do not have time to put it off
The writing, the painting, the music
Day to day has its demands
Takes its pound of flesh

No, your family doesn’t respect your art
Enough to leave you to it
But if you are compelled
If you write because you must write
You do not have that kind of time

The kind of time that keeps you stuck
In the moment twenty years ago
When your ‘big reveal’ blew up in your face
All the joy you hoped to get out of it
Turned into deep grinding shame

Coated your heart with enough anger
To shield the wound in it
But the hole that is there
Still sucks the sands of your life away
And you do not have that kind of time

Write it out
Ink it
Line it
Fill it with
Crumpled paper drafts

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, May 2016