just enough for farewells

bethlehem

at 6:23, i hear the neighbor’s alarm begin its buzzing as i tie back my hair with rubber and pins.
it’s longer now than the first time i stood here,
peering out the third-floor window, feet to cracking tile.
one yard over: they’ve put in a patio, added three puppies,
put hammer, nail, and sweat to countless home improvements.
i, too, feel renovated.
i wonder at the mystery of knowing two years of backyard business and not your neighbor’s name.

as i pack another box, i long to live on less,
to find the tootsie-roll center of just exactly enough.
i’m learning there’s always more blush on the brush,
peanut butter in the jar if you scrape at the sides,
change in the cupholders,
rice in the corner of the pantry with the spider web.

but time is a different story.
the clock is a cruel mistress and she gives no extra.
enough, in her book, is now just 10 days more.

i answer my sudden urge to memorize this town,
to put sneaker to every inch of sticky street,
to build a map for recollecting when the distance feels like metaphor.
i long to skip ahead to hindsight’s perch,
to send myself a paper airplane and tell you what this place means to me,
what it all means, what it’s all worth.

this feels different than the last goodbye,
leaving the circle of college on a tidal wave of hurrahs.
this time i want to sneak out the back door, like i’ll be back in a minute,
just grabbing something from the kitchen,
hold that thought, friend . . .

on my way out, i hold close a handful of farewells.
i won’t say them. i don’t want to. i’ll pack them away for now.
this place and her people are just exactly enough.

cracks and crumbles and windows and walls

for two years, i’ve stared at the crack in this ceiling on the rare nights insomnia fidgets into my sheets.
this crooked old house,
once lifted high in the air and dropped down all off kilter a spit’s distance away,
this crows nest perch with crumbling walls.
i put off packing the pictures, convinced they’re all that’s keeping the roof on, the rain out, the house standing.

but this month, i will pack them.
i can’t leave them here.
the map of 1926 manhattan – the wondrous isle it says,
the cross-stitched nashville skyline,
the slate tiles of charleston’s history, painted bright by the pony-tailed man with the labrador at his feet . . .

these pieces of past and the whole world just hanging, precarious.

. . . the window he saved from the lonely leave-it heap,
and hauled atop piles of clothes on our last cross-country move,
for me,
because i love it.

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