Edges

by Rosemary King


I always knew this was inside, lurking 

like a gentle beast, who watches over you, but never wishes to be seen 

Concealed but felt 

and understood. 

Hovering around my edges

known best when drifting 

into dreams.


This knowledge

by Rosemary King


Now I understand what all that fuss was about

It pulses. Like a being inside me. This knowledge. 

My skin is hot to the touch. 

Someone pressed his palm to my forehead. 

"You're burning" he said

He is correct. 

To love is to burn. 

So said Marianne from Sense and Sensibility.

She nearly died of love. I wonder what will happen to me. 

 


Alive again

by Rosemary King


I don't know how to be alive anymore.

My steps feel like my first. I'm clumsy and unsure.  

Fussing, like a baby, I'm frustrated and unsettled. 

My body aching as it stretches outwards towards something it wants.

My eyes see it all again, for the first time. 

I am more alive. I am, in a way, reborn. 

The world once again new. A spectacle to behold. 

But I don't know how to live in it. 

 


Captured

by Rosemary King


Something blew into that moment, or perhaps the moment was waiting for us there,  as we stood unwittingly by. 

We walked towards each other and

stepped into the net as we clasped hands. 

Both of us unknowingly, irrevocably ensnared 

until we smiled and then we knew.

We acknowledged that we had met 

at last

with our simple hellos 

 


San Francisco

by Rosemary King


I put my sunglasses on

To try and block the glare

They do nothing to dim the day

Despite them you still feel that you aren't up to the brilliance of the sun

And you continue to see the stark and shocking

Difference

Between those 

That Have

And those

That Have Not 


A Memory

by Rosemary King


It was barely dawn

Pink light and grey

I woke to the lapping of water on boats

And climbed out of the bunk I shared with another child

Looking out the window

That just three years earlier I had grown high enough to see out of

Below me

Down the steps 

Through dry pines

To the lakes edge

A man getting into a canoe

Stealthy, paddling through

glasslike water

With tanned arms

In the distance the opaque starkness of a loon against an orange sky

It dove 

Barely disturbing the surface

Not to emerge again from the water 

Disappeared

To somewhere I could not see

His canoe made a V as he grew smaller

Years later 

I saw him at Granny's funeral

He was drawn, grey

Treatment isn't goin well

Someone whispered

A little less than a year later

He had passed


Never say goodbye to Gilda

by Rosemary King


My favorite stories are the ones that are happy and terribly sad at the same time. Little portraits of how humans can find a way to joy even when things are shit. I keep these stories in my pocket for times when it's night and I can't sleep. It's probably not a good idea to think of things that are beautifully sad when you're trying to fall asleep, but I have never claimed perfection.

The story I'm thinking of tonight I read in a book about Saturday Night Live.  The finer details are fuzzy. I believe it was the mid-80s. There was a party where a lot of the SNL cast, past and present, got together. Lots of the most famous cast members who went on to greater fame were there, Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, Martin Short, etc. Eventually, Gilda Radnor showed up. She had been ill with cancer for some time and was not often out. The word on the street was that her prognosis was not looking good. She stayed and chatted, and then started saying her goodbyes. 

 When Bill found out she was leaving, he started a schtick with her, where he picked her up and dragged her around the party, shouting Gilda's leaving, have you said good bye, have you said good bye?! He would drag her around the whole party, to the same people again and again, and when he got tired someone else did it for a while, and it went on for hours. Everyone there was a comic and they all did bits with Gilda, and made her cry with laughter.  On and on it went, no one ever really saying goodbye, but bombastic goodbyes being said by all. Bill said it was the last time he ever saw Gilda.  

I think that's probably the sweetest, kindest, happiest way to say you love someone. To never let them leave the party, while saying over and over again how nice it was to see them, in the funniest, most entertaining way possible. It makes me cry every time I think about.  


The Question of Where I'm From

by Rosemary King


The earliest memories of my life are probably similar to the memories that others have.  A hazy, ephemera of snippets disconnected from a clear sense of time. Walking around a dark wood kitchen, far below the tops of the counters. A wooded backyard that seemed very large.  I don't remember leaving that first place in the north.  I don't remember specifically moving south. I remember being down there. Wide empty roads that led aimlessly around loops of houses that all looked vaguely the same. Groups of children who biked around together and shouted things.  I remember sitting in a set of golden-silk Chinese pajamas on a circular bench that wrapped around a large tree in our front yard. It was dusk.  I remember vaguely that my father built that bench.  I don't remember the tree being cut down but eventually the front yard became treeless. 

The house was large, as many houses there were. Spacious boxes with places for everything.  There was space for large indoor trees. A room for the laundry and big dogs.  Space to walk around inside.  A room with a fire to sit close to when it was cold. A bright studio with window walls and skylights to sit in when it was hot.  Places to put all the pantry food, and drawers for the vegetables.  Walls that could hold dozens and dozens of framed pictures. Space enough for Christmas trees twice the size of my father. Spots for large looms and ping-pong tables and huge cardboard forts, all which were constantly draped with multiple children.  There was space for everything, a place for everything.  My friends' houses were the same.  It was in this material uniformity that it became apparent that the family of which I was a part did not fit there. 

People there belonged on teams and in church and down the shore.  I became conscious that neither I, nor any of my immediate family took part in those things.  I became aware that people belonged to that place.  Their father's father had been born near there, or their grandparents lived around the corner or in their houses. I knew the place I seemingly belonged was very far away.  My mother's family had always been from the north country where winters were real.  My father came from England and his accent garnered a lot of attention from friends of mine.  Seeing our extended families required trips in the car or on airplanes.  It felt difficult to get to them. 

As I continued to grow up in that spot to the south, I grew up differently from any place of belonging. It followed that I grew away from it.  In growing up, the sense of where I came from began to fade until it settled into a supra-terrestrial twilight that could only be seen or felt from time to time. 

If, like Joan Didion says, we are formed by the landscape we grew up in, then my landscape is simply a question. How does a question form who you are, other than to make you a perpetual question asker?

Not knowing the place of your belonging creates a sense that you could belong anywhere.  An atom hanging in time.  You begin to carry the things that you need with you on your back and the world becomes the space that you inhabit.  Soon the flow of your life rubs against the grain of most people around you, who follow the law of physics and eventually come to rest.  Rather, perpetual motion becomes the rule. 

What is less understood is the trajectory for this slice of humanity.  It is here that nature versus nurture comes into play, but which is which?   It may be that transience is a state of rest and the intermediate is the destination. Does motion continue until final rest is forced by natural law and one rejoins that faded twilight of belonging?  Or is it the natural instinct to build one's kingdom and plant a flag? Can a location or a circumstance come to inhabit that place inside you that has until then been dark matter, known only by what is unknown?

These questions occur while you are, paradoxically, inhabiting a place, often with no outward intention of indulging the rule of perpetual motion, having forgotten that you are always in it.  But every once in a while, when you're alone, you sit and watch the light dim and the faded understanding rolls to the front of your mind like a fog.  You remember what you have to do and know that eventually it will happen.  It stays with you for a while until you start putting away the groceries and then it fades again, until it's just another vague memory rejoining all the others in a far off collection of neurons that fire faintly, every once in a while. 


Oh Captain, My Captain

by Rosemary King


I'm not much of a sports fan.  I really like tennis and I really love the Brooklyn Nets, but I was never a baseball fanatic.  That said I have always admired the romance of the game and am still a huge fan of Ken Burn's Baseball documentary.  From across an ocean, I became quite misty-eyes as I watched New York's own Derek Jeter say good-bye to Yankee Stadium and a crowd of adoring New Yorkers by doing the thing that only New Yorkers could DEMAND from him, play like a champion. 

Being a sports star on a New York City team is a cruel fate.   There is really no good side. If you play poorly or let New Yorkers down, there is no mercy, you are torn limb from limb, game-in and game-out.  "YOU FUCKING SUCK A-ROD!"  I was at a game where A-Rod was booed by a whole stadium for every single at bat.  It could have burned the skin off of his back.  In New York, you deliver or you get the fuck out.  

If you're playing well, you're a God but the city OWNS you, as it has owned Jeter for the past 20 seasons.  Your success isn't yours, it's ours and we hate second place.  Jeter rose to that, he brought the city five championships.  Off the field, he projected control and poise, we all knew that he knew what was expected of him.  We also all knew that he would never let us down. 

Jeter deserves this golden moment.  He played his heart out for us.  He led his team and his fans with a grace and a composure that is rarely seen.  My favorite part of Yankees games that I attended was seeing him stand at attention for every hit, for every play, clapping and cheering his teammates, accepting defeat with grace, but always, always, always driving towards victory.

New York's Captain will be missed.