Under the formulaic trees,
one like another, repeated through the parking lot,
there are only crows
and a girl.
They both stand awkwardly
on legs or shoes
not meant for walking.
She doesn’t say it,
but she is waiting for someone.
They don’t say it,
but they are waiting for her to leave.
It will go on for hours like this,
but only the birds will complain.
There is a cat who lurks by the jungle that encloses the pool here. He is a silvery brown, and his stripes wind curled butterflies over his flanks. I see him sometimes when I go out to do the laundry. He will sit and regard me if I stand and regard him, but if either of us moves, the other vanishes.
I saw him today, my laundry basket in hand.
“Hello cat,” I called to him, and he watched attentively as I separated my zippered clothing from un.
“Did you know that the House passed CISPA today?”
He stares at me.
“Or that a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas exploded after a fire? Or that there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon?”
But he is a cat, and he blinks in that way that cats have, eyes scrinched, that we could anthropomorphize into annoyance. It’s more than likely contented.
“People keep talking at me about these things as if there’s something else I can do about this stuff,” I tell him, and he rolls over onto his side in a puddle of sunlight. I go on, “I don’t have any money. I called my congressmen. I live here, not there. I try to buy local organic food so they don’t need those chemical fertilizers.”
My wash is in and spinning. It is a task unrelated to the rest of the world. I don’t think Barnard’s Star gives a fuck if I have clean things to wear.
I sit down on one of the deck chairs not far from the cat, but not close either. I don’t offer to pet him, but he purrs anyway.
And that’s the thing. He purrs anyway.
It’s strange how placid you can be when bad things happen. And here’s the thing: bad things happen. It’s isn’t you. It’s not that you can’t catch a break. It’s that none of us do.
So my bad thing is that my computer died (this is why I am in love with libraries). I have only one, a little laptop I could only afford because of work related discounts. At first I thought it was the hard drive. It powered on, but would not boot. Simple? No. Upon deeper testing, it was discovered that in my tiny computer’s Byzantine depths of etched copper and stratified plastic a different sort of failure had occurred. The logic board was apparently bad.
Interesting. Except, fool that I am, there were two important files I had not backed up. One, a recent photo poem, and two… my novel. Tens of thousands of words gone like burnt paper. The image I can possibly recreate, taking a day’s labor. The novel, well, it’s an awful lot of words.
Everything else? Fine. Safely on cloud services and flash drives of candy colors. The computer itself is still under warranty.
But here’s the thing: my secret identity is Backup Girl, ensuring data everywhere is safe from those inevitable crashes, yet what had I done? I’d failed to preserve two pieces of the best work I’d produced to date. What kind of superhero was I?
One who out of shame blurts out Plath-like over-dramatics, that’s what. I don’t even like cooking with gas ovens.
The reality is this: we all fuck up like this. All of us. We make these mistakes once every few years and rebound, because what’s the alternative? It’s not even that other folk are suffering worse losses than I (and I assure you, they are), but that we’re all bound to have our crack at it (just you wait, I’ll lose everything I have to a fire the day I get my Alzheimer’s diagnosis). I can look at it as if life is persecuting me, or I can see myself in others and their similar problems.
And when it comes down to it, it’s like I’ve been saying since the weekend: at least the poetry is safe. Prose I can rewrite. It may even get better for it. But poetry only comes out that way once.
I also get to live with the teasing from my initial spasms of Plath. Well deserved.
I was on my way to visit Dylan, that lazy fuck who always has a beer in hand and Led Zeppelin blasting. Being a writer himself, we sit down, shoot the shit, and then words tend to come out. Occasionally, even good ones. But I had a couple to errands to run first. Some things that my little studio apartment needed. Mainly a surge protector, because hell if I want to risk my computer going up in flames considering the power dynamics in that place.
It took a minute or ten to find the surge protectors, and I had to fend off the flyer-bearers announcing sales. When I finally did, I was overwhelmed by the sheer glut of multi-plugged hydra-headed cable beasts to select from, everything from itty strips which looked like they might protect a flea from a stray arc of ESD and not much more, to behemoths priced at $200 guaranteed to keep your electrics from frying on the circuit even if the mother of all otherworldly lightning storms landed a direct hit on yer wires. I picked something reasonable, and proceeded out through the garden center.
I like garden centers. They are filled with plants. Not enough of the plants are edible, but that’s okay, there’s at least seed for such things, and after the glitz and flash of all the surge protectors, I needed something a little more peaceful.
That’s when I saw them. Little gardener that I am, I have an idea of what will and will not grow in Florida. The them that I saw belonged to more northern climes: blueberries. Blueberries who need cold winter kisses and a slow blush to spring, who need a good summer and a fair light fall to produce fruit. Blueberries in Broward County, Florida.
I asked the cashier about them.
“Oh yeah, the last batch we had all died. I thought I’d overwatered them. But we even had coffee trees a few months ago.”
Coffee. Which needs mountains. And less humidity.
Consumer glimmer, deck all your fruit trees and shrubs with your hundred styles of surge protector and let’s hire Britney Spears to sing their praises!
I had the brief notion of buying them out of blueberries and shipping them north, where they actually stood a chance— a desperate rescue for the poor doomed bushes. But my wallet’s not that fat and I can’t risk doing jail time on behalf of some Vacciniums.