11,041 vagabonds plus:
the whole wide world
You kiss the departing, hug them tight, they break your grasp, escaping with small bundles of leftovers, or perhaps a borrowed book. They pause at the open car door, squinting back at you, hand shielding piercing sunlight, seemingly wondering if your eccentricity is real, and you wave vigorously to prove it. They honk the horn twice, spinning gravel. Two honks must mean good bye, you deduce.
Your best friend in the whole wide world, Tatyana, is the last to leave. She dried the dishes happily despite her shattered left wrist in a white cast. She smiled at your jokes, and prepared a pot of coffee for you before bidding adieu, riding away on a bicycle. Holding the cup in both hands, the stinging warmth reminds you of bitter January days coming out of the cold into a inviting fragrant hot biscuit kitchen.
There's the ringing silence in the quiet homestead now, leaving you alone to converse with the echoing haunted voices of tenants from long ago. They are so easy to get along with (no whispering allowed), but you dare not tell a soul.
Anticipating; the time is now, the orange setting sun ignites the pilot light and engulfs the chair, warmed to touch like an alluring over-sized favorite blanket, in the only room without a fireplace. An open book and hot coffee. The lightened heart races, the yellowed lamplight makes the uneven gray walls cozy, and you read lines twice, sometimes three times. It's useless, your quickening pulse is deafening. You close your eyes and fall asleep in the comforting chair, just like your old Uncle, smelling of cigar smoke, used to do when you were a child, as he perused old photos protected in clear plastic.
Curled up awkward in the deep frigid chair, you awaken in twilight. A dog is barking. Bare tree limbs shamed by their nakedness brush against the hollowed-out house in a wind storm, and a draft snakes through the crevices ringing glass bells, rattling Depression Glass in the hallway curio cabinet, and you have no idea where you are in that fleeting moment until Tatyana appears in an ankle-length white dress above you holding a solitary candle. You're still blinking as the flame turns to a wisp of smoke, and in the dark she asks, her voice breaking, if it's all right to stay the night.
Henry Perlman had little time to lose, ominous squall clouds rolling above, barometer skin shivering. The shortwave radio static reminded him of a wall of rushing water, heightening his excitement, causing the yanking of the splayed-wired microphone from its roots, the radio useless. The chain on the bicycle was broken. A woolen sweater pulled over flannel, galoshes on sideways, a shuffle off to help.
There was the glimmer of something on the water, the outline of a human being against sky, sea-sick bobbing on water, a white sail flapping, all witnessed from spyglasses tight against his eyeballs, the need for a good neighbor, Man! He tripped on the jagged edge of the cracked stone path, cracking his head, and goodnight, Marie. Screams of white birds overhead awakened the huge man at dusk, watery eyes set deep in a leathery, well-tanned skin, blinking alive. He managed a rise to his feet in time to see the floating survivor on the carcass of a stern fifty feet from shore. He rushed towards the wreckage, head throbbing with each step, walking into the waves, forgetting his natural calling in life to swim.
Late at night, in the calm after-storm silence of his old captain's chair beside the scorched fireplace, he softly closed his black cardboard-cover bible, questions unanswered, watching the rise of pipe smoke, vanishing before it reached the eggshell-colored low ceiling of his lodging, and thought it was all like a movie he'd seen once, the leading man talking in a thick Scottish accent, confident in manhood. And how he first saw her up close as he tugged the shattered plank. The girl, perhaps thirty years younger than he, sprawled out, clutching a dry bed pillow and empty water bottle, wearing the thinnest yacht club t-shirt, cream-colored short pants with large pockets, her waist-length golden hair matted and twisted horribly.
She was no burden as he lowered the unconscious lass onto his single musky bed. Henry thought he could carry her for a long chivalrous distance if there would be an entire island of puddles at the end of the earth for her small feet to avoid. He could not believe how white her thighs were in the candle light, her calender-girl breasts blushing pink after the peeling of wet garments was complete, or maybe he was in a startled, blushing mind, as he snapped the quilt and let it float on her delicate lovliness, safe and secure. Henry felt warm again around the eyes as he exhaled slowly, shifting in his chair, thinking about taking up the bible again. He did not touch the book.
Waking at three from a dreamless sleep in his neck-stiffening chair, Henry entered the sleep chamber, saw her hips shift slightly, and holding the candle closer was comforted by the normal calm breathing rise and fall of her chest. At one point, with his back turned and stooping slightly at the door-less hinges, he thought he heard the girl call his name in a breathless, forsaken sigh.
In the morning, a hard, pelting rain awakened her, and she saw the man standing at the doorway, two hands balancing a silver tray. After proper introductions - her name was Tatyana, no last name - she already knew his name, his heart stopping - she sat up with knees and blanket tucked under her chin. Henry set the tray on the cherry table next to her without making eye contact, leaving to fetch forgotten cream.
She lifted the warm porcelain oatmeal bowl and began to weep silently. Across the room she heard the stove spark to life and she dried her eyes thinking of the good, kind, gentleman. The room smelled of Carolina pine after a rain shower and it reminded her of childhood autumn days when her father tended mounds of burning leaves she helped him gather with a rake too big for her to handle.
Moments later, as Henry stood by the window looking up at the fading morning star in a sliver of pale green sky, Tatyana gulped heaping bites of steaming oatmeal, using a silver engraved spit-shined spoon, with an occasional suspicious side-glance, first at Henry, then at her drying clothes on display at the far end of the room. Henry turned, their eyes met. She looked down quickly, smiling, Henry gathered. And he decided he would ask for her hand after she was done drinking her milk.
by Andrew Wyeth
Snow melts upon autumn dreams
Vanished by palm's touch
Illuminating haikus await you where
footprints in the first snow lead to
recuerda mi corazon,
exclusive home of
Haiku My Heart
Bare boned silent guns
Eloquent last letter home
Time buffed crosses etched
by Felix Vallotton
Faux pursuit of happiness
Heart grip traveler
await you across town at
recuerda mi corazon,
exclusive home of
Haiku My Heart
take the bloody photo
photo: Charis, Lake Ediza, California(1937)
She was impatient as it appeared he was taking his sweet old worldly time setting up. The uneven black tripod, huge mirrors to bend light, blowing dust off lenses, wiping them on his sleeve like snot, making it all seem unreal and surrealistic. Plus it was frigid, and Varvara could see two cold angry eyes stare her down in hatred from a burning face. Especially when she constantly retied the scarf hiding her priceless coiffure. For her part, Varvara's eyelashes were frosted from the wind, and she dabbed her runny eyes, the sun's reflection offering no relief.
She posed with an arched back that he did not request, and they argued heatedly.
"I am the artist", he screamed. She tauntingly laughed into a relaxed heap, and with both arms extended, he pleaded with her to follow his direction.
She defiantly replied, "I must go to a real artist now, Georgia O'Keeffe, where I can survive in her naked pastels, my skin not coarsened by devils like you."
"And how will you pose?", he asked slowly, in quiet, red-faced furry, fingering the keys to the jeep in his pocket for an imagined, quick, abandonment.
Her voice lowered, resembling cold wind through a rocky crevice in uncharted country. She straightened slightly, blooming into vibrant womanhood.
"Like this!, you fool".
He twitched the shutter starting a rock slide.
by Edward Weston
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