Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Key

I don't usually write in verse, but after spending a week at the Peninsula Writers Summer Retreat on Glen Lake, I felt inspired:

The key is on the table
When I arrive at cabin 5
The large green plastic tag
Is a remnant of the motel era
Before magnetic passcards frustrated entry
Until swiped just right
for a green light.

Shoil is already there unloading her red gas hog,
Claiming the cushy chair in the corner,
Rearranging the furniture to her liking.
Trish comes next with a printer the size of a baby grand
Then little Wendy who flits around like a glowing Tinkerbell
Except when she disappears into her den.

Shoil must have turned on the light over the sink
and for seven days and nights it watches us
Fixing ribs, tacos, soup and spaghetti
And boxes and bottles and more boxes of wine
WaRshing dishes with a capital R
Setting a buffet to share with friends
And the key is still on the table.

When the sun sets behind the gator
The sink light remains on
Inspiring the tapping of keys
Listening to the secrets of Cabin 5 shared in a circle
Waiting for the smokers who sneak outside
Guiding the late night potty run
And sending off the early morning walker

Trish who talks with her hands
Decides midweek to move the table
Squeak, screech, hobble, hobble
In front of the couch
As a home for her computer and creating
While watching the lake
But the key remains on the table

She adds a green light to the deck
In case Gatsby comes to call
And swims and shivers her way to a raft in the sun
The tower of TP on the back of the stool
Only dwindles by two --amazing
Until Wendy confesses she’s been holding in

Shoil packs first, plotting a course from
Glen Arbor to TC to Lansing and beyond
Then Trish takes one last drive around the lake,
Tells Carol’s poem with her fingers,
 and fades into the night.
The final day finds Wendy and Sue
Using the table as packing central
Dividing up celery and cashews
Praying for pitched recyclables
Drinking the last of the wine.

Time to find the switch
to turn off the light over the sink
Wheel the suitcases, haul the printer
And cooler and boxes and bags
There’s a new green light on the deck,
To remind Gatsby and the literary world
We were here
But as we close the door
The key is still on the table

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Remember how Hansel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs when they went into the woods so they would be able to find their way home?
   Well, I just returned from a whirlwind visit to Colorado and I felt like I was leaving a trail of bits and pieces of myself for some yet-to-be-determined purpose.
    Some of the leavings were intentional, such as the book I was reading. I enjoyed Boone's Lick by Larry McMurty of Lonesome Dove fame. I'm familiar with the Boone's Lick trail in Missouri which attracted me to the book in the first place. But the story is told from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy, so I gave it to Steve's 14-year-old grandson, Trevor, a lanky lacrosse player in Steamboat Springs.
    But most of the crumbs I left behind were a combination of debris and dementia. Like the water bottle left at the security checkpoint at Denver International Airport. It joined overflowing bins of toothpaste, soda bottles and toothpaste that violated the 3-ounce limit. Or the swimsuit I forgot hanging to dry in a condo bathroom in Winter Park. Or the breath mints I left on the kitchen table at Steve's son's home in Conifer. The hand lotion on a coffee table in Winter Park. The reams of notes I brought along for a long-distance phone conference on Michigan's upcoming Wilde Awards, no longer needed and pitched in a Colorado wastebasket.A business card handed to a woman who asked about my books at a Steamboat party.
    I gathered a few crumbs as well, mostly hugs and kisses and laughs with relatives and friends. A few pictures. Memories.
     But will the trail grow cold, the bread crumbs disappear, before I head that way again?