Within Close Range: Anita

Anita was one of those agile girls

whose limber and daring I envied.

Her front flips and back flips,

backbends and full splits.

I couldn’t even cartwheel.

I did a competent somersault,

but it garnered little praise.

So, I spent a good deal of time

just laying in the grass.

Observing.

Awed by long, lanky, bendy bodies –

especially Anita’s –

twisting, turning, and taking flight.

Wondering why and how

she could do such things so skillfully,

when those skills so skillfully eluded me.

Or was it the passion to try?

But Anita’s dexterity

defied the norms of stretchability

because Anita added double-jointed

to her impressive athletic ability.

She’d often demonstrate her loose-jointed trait

by bending her willowy hand the wrong way;

masterfully mis-shaping her long, freckled arm,

as if made of soft, moist, modeling clay.

She could do the same with her shoulders and knees

until her bowed silhouette looked strange indeed:

a favorite umbrella blown inside out

by a rib-bending gust in a strong, spring shower.

Illogical and ludicrous.

Almost cartoonish.

Watching her move I felt ever defeated,

disjointed,

dysfunctional.

A dyed-in-the-wool, tried and failed tumbler.

Forever to watch from the shade of a tree,

where I marveled at my elastic friend,

who could bend,

and bend,

and bend,

and bend.

The Wind and the Woods

The highland winds howl through the valley,
rattling the windows of our house on the hill,
shaking and bending the world at their will,
as the Midwestern in me braces for a storm.

Intense and unforgiving. Possibly spinning.
I feel my body – tense and taut –
preparing for the worst with each swollen gust.
But this is just spring in the southwest.

Pacing through the house, anxious to move,
or for everything to stop,
the dogs and I head out for our walk.
Prepared for a fight against the wind’s tough talk.

Outside I find more bark than bite
the winds are strong, but warmed by the high desert’s light
Layers are shed as we head to where the pronghorn graze
and the sweeping winds blow songs across the tall grass.

Downwind of us and warned,
the herd has up and gone,
prompting me to turn against the unrelenting gusts
and start the journey home again.

Past fuzzy Cholla and Prickly Pear lurking in the grass,
nipping at the paws of distracted dogs
drunk with newly moistened worlds in their noses.
Noses lifting and twirling with the breezes.

But oh the smells, rebirthed by frugal spring rains;
appearing and disappearing, for the cloudless air is always shifting,
enlivening everything, including my spirits,
with its transient sweetness.

Wandering up the hill toward home into the dark of the grey-green pines,
a Great Horned Owl lifts off a nearby branch.
One grand flap of her powerful wings, and then, a silent shadow
moving up the hill to a low limbed Juniper, heavy with slate blue berries.

I follow quietly, passing the fallen remains of a pine long dead,
which looks like an old skeleton without a head.
Hidden in the shadows of the boughs, the owl waits.
Only taking flight again when she is in my sight.

It’s then I start to wonder, who’s taking more delight
in this hide and seek game in the wind and the woods.

I can feel her watching us move up the hill.
And in the still, our eyes finally meet, albeit brief,
before she spreads her broad, stealth wings
and disappears above the trees and tailings of an old pit mine.

We hear a raucous raven at the top of the tree
where I hoped the Great Horned Owl would be.
But the owl is already on the go, into the blow, and out of sight.
Though I very much doubt we’re out of hers.

Unleashing the dogs as home comes in view
Nellie’s off in a flash on her reptile pursuit.
Zigging and zagging, but never succeeding.
(I think she’s just teasing.)

I shout her name, but it’s squandered in the gusts.
so I lose myself in the wind’s white-noise
and pressing my self against its hilltop strength,
find my peace and place in it again.