I See You

I’m on my lunch hour. The sun peaks between the holes in the clouds. A small rain shower, enough to cool and clean the air. Enough to make a little muddy patch of dirt beneath my feet, where I sit on this cement bench beneath the caterpillar tree. Not mud really- wet earth. Roots of the tree are visible in places, some as thick as the smaller limbs overhead. Trees grow roots wide, not deep. Some grow in groves, so they do not fall over in high winds.

***

I arrive in the ICU after work. She is awake. It’s hard to watch her silently scream with the respirator tube in her mouth. Her lungs are not in good shape. She will go under the knife again, get a tracheotomy to attach the respirator to her neck. Increase her comfort levels. She is not out of the woods yet. Her abdomen is split open for access and won’t be sewn shut for months.

She almost died. I can’t talk about it. I always push this stuff off until a later time when I have the space and distance to deal with my grief. For now, someone needs to be present and hold their shit together. There are too many factors pulling me in multiple directions. Time is precious. Writing is painful. It stirs up every sort of horror that my eyes have seen, and my heart has registered, but my face left blank. I have friends and cats and bars. It will have to be enough.

***

It’s evening downtown on a Thursday. The youth are loud, full of anger and angst. School is out for summer and maybe forever for some of them. It is July in the 60’s and there is mist hanging over the fractured energy. The volume makes me tense. An old man says to me as I pass, “Smile, it’s not that bad.” I am transparent, my stress clearly on my face. I look at him kindly and say, “So says you.” I stand in the bus shelter to escape the cold. A teenage girl weeps on the bench and explains to the boy that has come to fetch her, “I’m OK; I was thinking about grandma.”

I wait for the #4 bus. In front of me is a five-story mural of Bob Dylan: three faces, three ages, staring off in kaleidoscope color. I try to find the associations in the schema but I can’t tease it out. The details of his wild curling hair, the wrinkle folded flesh, the wide red stripe splitting his guitar in half- where does the inspiration come from? I am lulled into meditation by the sound of a jazz saxophone street musician. His timbre is calm, and the kids grow quieter and move on.

When the bus stops, I line up but think better of it. Two dollars pulled from my wallet and placed inside his case. I do not look at him. I am worried about the bus and run to board it. As we pull away, I watch him: black man, bright sax, waning sunlight, mirrored glasses, reflected blue light. He looks like jazz- cool, peaceful, vibrating. I smile as we pass him. He plays on. I wonder if his eyes are closed.

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, July 2016

Across Water

Currents move you
When you don’t know
Where to move yourself

In childhood,
Moments of crisis,
At the end of one chapter,
Beginning of the next

Familiar in their pain
Longing that returns
Over and over
Like waves, the tide

Trying to ‘be good’
Meet expectations
Of your parents
You can never meet them

They are the shore
Currents constantly
Pull you away from,
Where you started

These people
Began your life
They are not the end

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, May 2016

Paris With You

It is privacy
Neutral territory
Away from
Day to day

At once fun
Exciting, other person
But not how
One behaves

When bills, are hungry
Tired, after work
Lack of sleep
Headache

Still, to travel well
With someone new
Reveals what
You crave

Adventure
Shared experience,
Rendezvous
Next May

Neither fall in love
Nor divorce
Your boring,
Sexless marriage

Good trip
Good fuck
Does not equate
Happiness for ages

Think of the children
Consider your wallet
You’ll always have
Paris

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, February 2018

High Water

When the flood comes into the house it leaves mud and mold. You try to clean up. It’s a bad day when you must throw the refrigerator and the flooring out- but what can you do? You have your life with you, the stuff of what remains- your mind, your experience, your willingness to move on or not.

Maybe that’s the real tragedy of it all. That the tragedy derails you for years. That passersby look on at the unfinished roof and are annoyed at your laziness. They don’t know that dad fell off the ladder, hit his head, and died trying to fix it.

And you can’t face it.

You can’t face the pain. Bills must still be paid and the collector doesn’t give a shit that your heart is in pieces. That you can’t think clearly enough not to pour spoiled milk on the last of the cereal in the box.

No one remembers your trauma and you are never over it fast enough for their taste. They’ve moved on to the next episode, the next season. As if life is a television series and they are sick of watching you.

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, January 2018

Blue Sheet of Sky

Huge blue sheet of sky
Largest picture window
Spread a blanket
Watch a meteor shower

Us in romance
A little wine
Hands clasped
Dreaming

It will get chilly
It will feel suspended
At least I hope it will

Day to day creeps in
It disturbs my happiness
In this moment

With a friend
With a lover

I will want to know
How it ends
Stop
Be here now

Fish jump in nearby lake water
Frogs call out in the night
Seek their own lovers

Let us be lovers
At least this one night

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, October 2017

Small

To take small evidence
Explode it into full betrayal
This is the marker of an
Abused and bruised heart

Why did you say that?
What do you mean by that?

It confuses people
Who have never been
Conditioned to endure

Persistent disappointment
Persistent pressure
Persistent backhanded
Remarks and insults
Veiled as compliments

It germinates paranoia
You think
All people are this way
But they are not

There are kind people
There are loving people
They make innocent observations

It is your mind that translates
Words into hooks and swords
But you cannot help it
You are a patchwork of scars

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, January 2018

Boil

It starts out okay
Nice

Until the dissatisfaction
Creeps in
The boredom
The blame

You love so you try to fix it
There is no fixing it
They came broken

Only they can make
An unbroken self
Only personal healing

That takes time
Hard work
It is quicker,
Easier to blame others

So, the water felt fine
You got in
Not noticing the fire
Lit underneath

And slowly, slowly
What is abnormal
Becomes normal

Your definition of abuse
Becomes extreme
To support your denial
Denial of the abuse

You cannot face it
You cannot look
Look into the mirror

There is shame in
Tolerating it
Receiving it
Admitting it

So, as the world boils
Around you
When an old friend asks
“How are you?”

You respond
“I’m fine.”

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, October 2017