Wednesday, January 21, 2004

mckee bridge

i was out there today -- mckee bridge -- place of so many memories... deep green water where i learned to swim when i was five, thrown in the water by my uncle alan. i didn't know until much later that he was nuts. schizophrenic, maybe. my mother said he got malaria in panama during some military occupation in the fifties or forties, but from what i hear, he probably had an early onset schizophrenic break at 19 or 20, and just happened to be in panama when it happened. he was a kind man. big and round. he grew red poppies in our front yard when we lived in portland after my father died. i remember him, standing in the yard, garden hose in hand, watering those poppies for hours on end... I remember the circus tents in the middles of those flowers, never knowing then that the juice secreted by those centers would become both sustinence and destruction for me. he wore overalls, and was known to the neighborhood kids as the fat man. i don't remember him seeming fat before i heard one of the neighbor kids call him names. later in life he kept cats, 74 feral cats at one count. he lived in the basement of an apartment building owned by his brother, a fanatical socialist back when it wasn't polically faschionable.... he entertained rats in the corner opposite the cats, so say the stories.... he watered the flowers on wallpaper, made his own dentures out of cement, rode his bicycle up and down the west coast, and believed he was asian. uncle alan died on christmas eve, alone on a boat in san francisco harbor. apparently there were young people who brought him bags of groceries from time to time. i wish i had known.

mckee bridge... my best friend lorretta just rented a house out there. we've known each other since our boys -- now men -- were babies and we lived on the banks of the applegate river and breathed the thin mountain air.


what it was like to be drunk in the country for years

it was like comin' home
beer bottles stacked on the porch
lolling around in the dust of a hot day
not a hundred yards from the river
sweating pure whiskey
too busy drinking to jump in the water
the cool sweet water
sleeping face down in brown grass
missing the fall
and the spring
and the summer
spending the winter
planning all those things
we're gonna do
when the sun comes out...

yale creek

i strung pressed leaves and snake grass
on sewing thread
and hung them in the windows
to rattle in the wind
transparent in the light
filtering through the pines
i decorated around the old blood
running down the hand-peeled log wall
just to the right, inside the front door.
i never thought to wash it off -- that little bit of history--
proof that things had happened
without my consent
beyond my control
in that beautiful cabin
of wood
and blood
and handmade lace.

the poems are all i have left.

No comments: