The Jungle Next Door

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I took this photograph less than a mile from my front door, having discovered the local park was more than just a swing set and fishing dock. It looks so peaceful, but having taken the family-friendly pontoon cruise down the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, I can attest that there are a boatload of alligators, snakes, and other poisonous critters in and around these waters.

The ocean is hardly any safer. About two months ago, a helicopter pilot took a photo of hundreds of sharks twenty yards off the shore in Martin County. So far, the pool is my best bet.

A Poem, Written in the Eighth Century

“Donal Óg”
by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (1852-1932)
translated from an anonymous eighth-century Irish poem

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith’s forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

Song for My Sister

The beach

I’m getting up early tomorrow morning to re-record the song I wrote for Maeve a few months ago. I’ve been somewhat hesitant about laying it out for the world to see — in fact, the three people who listened to the scratch track all cried – a reaction that leaves me feeling like I’ve thrown a rock and hit the person in the heart.

We didn’t have a perfect relationship, in fact, I am quite sure that my sister did not like me at all, until the last two years of her life, when she suddenly stopped making fun of me. She initiated phone contact and became pleasant to talk to. I began to call her several times a week just to chat. And just when our relationship was healed, she died in her sleep at age 54. Just in time for me to miss her terribly, and wander in the mental landscape of what I could have done better, to ease her way in this world.

Here are the lyrics for Song for my Sister:

1.  I live now by the sea – to the sound of waves upon the shore,   So many times I want to take your hand, but now you’ve gone to the Promised Land.

Chorus: I’m gonna dig my heels into the sand, as it shifts beneath my feet. I still don’t know how I’ll ever let you go; I’m trapped by sand the way that you were trapped by snow.

2.  I swim to the surface of my troubled sleep, a starfish falls from my hand, Was there anything I could have said or done, to keep you from colliding with the sun.

Bridge:  For every unkind word I said, for every time I turned away, All the hurts I would mend, just to have you hear again.

3.  January clouds gather, black as a murder of crows, New Jersey is frozen over, and I’m still in my summer clothes.

I have a feeling like I have to cast my net upon the waters, and say the words most people don’t have the courage to present – they can own  my words if it helps them move forward. As for my sister, I miss her. If she’d died two years earlier, I would have always wondered if she loved me. I know that I still love her.

Confusion Among the Seasons

It’s tricky telling the seasons in South Florida. I’ll give you an example. Today, April 12, 2011 (the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War) it was 85F, however, outside the building where I work, the leaves were dropping off the trees, reminding me of how the leaves scuttle across the lawns and walks in Central Park.

It made me lonesome for the northeast.