Iron Rain

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Iron Rain

Iron Rain, acrylic on watercolor paper, 18″ X 24″, Lex Leonard

There is a planet faraway where the rain is made of iron…..

Helen placed her phone down on her lap. Her eyes were tired. The glow made them itch and when she read too long, especially when it was dark in the room, her eyes watered. 

Leaning her head back to rest against the wooden slats of her grandmother’s only remaining dining room chair, she let herself feel the water pool under her narrowed eyelids. And when there was no more room, she squeezed them tighter, shutting out all frivolous possibilities.

And tears ran down her cheeks, under her jaw, and dropped onto the screen of her phone. They puddled there. Not a lot but enough to catch the light of the moon through the attic window. 

Iron. Helen mused. As her eyes cleared she could see the moon glow in each drop, silvery, a bit like iron. And she wondered what iron raindrops sound like…

 

She never cried that hard before
sobs and snot ran down her blouse
she wiped, eyes, nose, blouse
in apology as if that would make a difference

The noise of each teardrop
full of anger, enraged, hot and molten
seized mid-air, became real
plunked onto her cheek then blouse
then to the ground

She shook,
she was cold in her raving madness,
the sound
the iron clinks
and clunks,
did anyone else hear

Why couldn’t anyone else hear

Bent to Earth she touched
each tear, each iron droplet

A memory 

She wanted to collect them
keep them safe
to remember
remember
remember

Why doesn’t anyone else remember

Her finger pressed,
a print
hers mixed with iron rain,
proof
of their existence
a mud, a plaster
a cast of what was 

Helen’s phone glowed at her. She blinked her eyes and wiped the screen on her skirt. The message was from Sarah. 

Want to have coffee.

Yes. Helen wanted coffee.

See you at Cassie’s in about an hour.

Yes. Helen wanted coffee, an iron brew to warm her from the inside.

She stood and walked by memory to the wall. She didn’t need a light to guide her to the switch. 

The light blinded her a bit. She made a note to change the bulb to something softer.  

Helen looked at herself in the mirror, straightened her hair, and noticed a delicate iron sheen on her cheeks.

 

Author’s Note:

I fell behind. Or should I say, I fell into the black hole. 

I’m finding this isolation and the bigger picture a time of many ups and downs.

I am learning not to deride myself for doing “nothing.” In the time of a pandemic simply surviving, taking a breath, opening my eyes, is the most important thing to do every day. 

I am learning to slow down. Pretty much everything is optional. There is not a big script that is my contract. Being is enough and if I chose to watch TV, fine. Cook. Fine. Meditate. Fine. Walk the dog. Fine. If I don’t do any of all that stuff I “should” be doing, ITS FREAKING FINE.

It was snowy and very cold these past two days and we didn’t get our twice a day doggo walks. That is part of the despair, I think.

But yesterday, our monthly writing group met over, wait for it, Zoom. I cancelled last month’s because it was at the very beginning of this pandemic and I just didn’t have a good feeling about bringing together my best friends in a public place to write. Many work in the schools, including myself. I just didn’t have a good feeling about it. I was right. Within the week, we were in self-isolation.

But seeing everyone and hearing their voices and listening to their writing was a joy.

Today I decided to play a bit and paint this to go along with my writing.

Our prompts were taken from headlines and five words. As always, we can use them however we wish. The rule is no rules. Some came from the Na/GloPoWriMo sight or gathered from the Internet:

Delicate. Spontaneous. Frivolous. Enraged. Narrowed.

  1. Hickory, Dickory, Dock, The Tortoise Played The….

  2. Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’  May Be Restoring Columbia’s Ecosystem

  3. Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where The Rain Is Made Of Iron

  4. Family Colors Each Brick Of Their House With Colorful Chalk

The Place Where I Stand

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The Place Where I Stand, acrylic, 40″ X 30″, Lex Leonard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agreement has rarely been the mandate for people who love each other.
Pádraig Ó Tuama

They were siblings. He, an innocent bystander between the two.

His leg was sore. When he sat, the hindquarter opened. Not his usual strict attention on a “good” sit. A deep puncture quickly healed over. Just a day ago open. Today, as if nothing happened, today he runs. My Bean, Benny the name he carried to us. I call him Bean, My Bean. He is smart and joyful, pulls me into his world. Me in hesitant agreement.We walk twice a day. He eats, gnaws a chew stick, plays ball, all on his own terms, of course. 

Together, in amalgam, we wander.

 

She is here this morning. Sun behind us.
She, just past full, bright white against light blue veil
rising above houses, trees, soon to exit in Sun’s arrival,
She leads us.

Do you notice, the lights in the sky,
or is your nose tethered to the ground,
scents and sniffs guiding your being?

I walk both above and upon.
Moon rise, Sun set.
Crows and clouds.
Leaves and roots.
Snowflakes drifting and
ice slicked by melt
then frozen through night’s chill.

What do you know?
Who was here…who came and left.
Their essence. Invisible now. You know.

Do you hear ravens?
I know you hear airships.
Rumbling trucks take away
that which no longer serves.
Barks and howls, near and far.

Together we divine our world,
pace ourselves through days of
grizzled knee and tender hindquarter,
innocent bystanders…

mo sheasamh ort lá na choise tinne
You are the place where I stand on the day when my feet are sore.

 

. . . . .

Author’s Note:

There is magic in community. There is an understanding,  agreement not always necessary.

Our Afternoon Writers met this morning. Our prompt from an On Being with Krista Tippett interview with Pádraig Ó Tuama, Belonging Creates and Undoes Us. In an attempt to widen our scope of what and how we write, I’ve been searching for new types of prompts to inspire us. Some of us, myself at the top of the list, kept falling into what we have always written – same style, same characters, same storylines. 

Change is difficult.

Today I brought a paragraph from Tippett’s interview:

Pádraig Ó Tuama: Agreement has rarely been the mandate for people who love each other. Maybe on some things, but, actually, when you look at some people who are lovers and friends, you go, actually, they might disagree really deeply on things, but they’re somehow — I like the phrase “the argument of being alive.” Or in Irish, when you talk about trust, there’s a beautiful phrase from West Kerry where you say, “mo sheasamh ort lá na choise tinne” — “You are the place where I stand on the day when my feet are sore.” That is soft and kind language, but it is so robust. That is what we can have with each other.

What surprised me is that several writers wanted the opening sentence. I was aiming for the quote on place.

It worked.

Our writing stretched us, gave us room to explore something new.

And if you are a poet or simply love poetry, here is a new podcast that will begin soon. Take a look. I’m excited. Poetry Unbound. And while you’re at it take a peek at Tuama’s Corrymeela Community.

The Woods

The Woods

The Woods, image by Lex

She had perfect feet. Not too big. Not too small that she would totter. Her toes were long, long enough to grasp her pencil when it rolled off the table to escape as she set it down to take a sip of coffee. The kitchen table tilted ever so slightly missing one pad underneath one leg. That made just enough difference for her toes to be engaged in the process of writing her daily laundry list.

The first thing on her list called for a bus ride. This was easier said than done.

She lived past the far edge of town. Not all the way to the woods, but almost. She always wanted to live in the woods. She asked her mom if they could and her mom always answered no. It wasn’t an angry no. Just a simple no to end the discussion.

But what if mom said YES?

Many a night she would lay out near the edge of the woods looking up at the sky drawing pictures in her mind of what it would be like living the woods. Gossamer clouds erased each adventure to create a blank slate for new ones to be imagined.

But that was long ago and wasn’t for right now.

She was older now, much older, and she was so far from anywhere that she would have to take a bus to catch the bus to get to her appointment.

Now she carried a responsibility bigger than she was. She knew she had to be on time, if not early. She had to be ready.

She counted her coins to be certain there were enough for a round trip just in case there was no one to bring her home. She was wrapped in her warm scarf and coat, held an umbrella in case it did rain as was promised, packed an apple to eat on the second bus, and slipped her perfect feet into her perfect comfortable shoes.

The box was prepared earlier in the day. She didn’t want to forget anything. And even though the box held all she needed for the meeting, it seemed weightless. When something is important – no vital – it could almost float by itself. Which she was sure it did at times, but she never told anyone of this.

“Alright, then!”

She said to no one in particular, but to anyone who happened to be listening.

“I think I’m ready.”

She listened for an objection. None was had. All was magnanimous. She was ready and that was that.

She arrived at the exact second the first bus did and was promptly whisked away.

Maybe it was the wind coming through the crack of open window where she sat in the last seat of the bus, but she thought she heard a great sigh of someone or something bidding her a farewell.

She smiled.

She, too, loved her house near the woods and felt a bit of a loss each time she left to town. But she was needed this eve along with the all the other wise ones. It was her time to be there.

And she could hear her mother’s words that were the words she heard from her mother who heard them from her mother and so on and so on and so on…

What the elders see sitting, others can’t see while standing on their toes.

Author’s Note:

Our lovely Afternoon Writers met this past Tuesday. We missed a few dear friends this month. Much love and many hugs to them.

We now each bring a sentence and a word as our prompts. We choose how we use them, or even not use them at all. We write for a half an hour. Then we share. What a wonderful time of community we have here listening to each others voices come through words that enchant and humor us and bring a tear.

I am gathering small shots of place and character and events to work into a larger piece of work. I love this process. Someday…
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Here are our prompts for the afternoon. Joins us! We would love to read what you wrote.

What the elders see sitting, others can’t see while standing on their toes.

The town of Gros Ventre was so far from anywhere that you had to take a bus to catch the bus. I carried a responsibility bigger than I was. From Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

They arrive over the wise distances on perfect feet. From If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie

What if mom said, “Yes?”

Gossamer
Escape
Magnanimous
Weightless