Structured Perspective

I want to look at old people
the way I look at old buildings
I want to remember
they weren’t made this way
Windows weren’t always dull and broken
Eyes not always vacant and cloudy
Walls weren’t always chipped and faded
Skin not always flaking and bent
Grounds weren’t always
littered, cracked and overgrown
Life not always wild and untidy

Maintenance takes time and effort
A newly painted surface requires little care
like the fresh, plump cheeks of childhood
With the passage of time
routine becomes major renovation
and likewise
Yet it doesn’t have to be

Old buildings and old people
aren’t what they once were
But why must they be viewed as ruin?
Broken windows frame playtime for birds
Peeling paint invites light
and awe of texture
Hooded, flecked eyes
twinkle in remembrance
and flash with insight
Wrinkled faces
declare the accumulation
of deep thoughts
and thousands of repeated smiles.

Time is an unmatched artist
Sculpting all structures
shifting perspective
For all life is meant to be
wild and untidy.

© S. Rinderle, May 2015, Cinque Terre, Italy

Shards

I don’t know how to be
among so much brokenness.
I have the hands of a healer,
the eyes of a fixer.
There are too many that need healing
too many that worship
the brokenness
obediently inhaling toxic fumes
they mistake for air.

I’m not accustomed
to lying down on broken glass.
I set about with my broom
and my glue
because I was born this way.
I still believe in wholeness,
still covet purpose
but the mob rolls their eyes
at what mine can see
waving away my glue and salve
calling them futility
even as they ask me
to heal and fix
their brokenness

while
they
keep
breaking things.

I know I should adapt.
It would be easier
if I could learn
to whirl and thrash
amidst the chaos
as they do.
It’s not my principles
it’s my programming
I simply cannot get comfortable
among these shards
and twisted metal.

I love softness and green.
I crave slow quiet
in my cells.
I’m convinced they are possible
and I am worthy.

I’ve given up
on finding the edge
of this rusting decay.
I suspect this crumbling
is the world now.
Dread and déjà vu
slow my steps,
for I know how
this movie ends.

But I still don’t know how to be
among so much brokenness.

Perhaps
if I can just
sweep a clear, smooth patch
to claim as my own
away from the mob
I’ll be able to lie down
rest
and survey the terrain.
Perhaps I’ll find others
truly weary of the brokenness
or a path leading out
of this shatter zone
where
my hands
and my eyes
can find a new home.

© S. Rinderle, October 2018

On Loss

It’s better to have loved and lost
they say
with pitying eyes.
They lie,
reciting flimsy greeting card verse
scrawled in cheap ink
that smears
at the slightest touch.

I am glass
The sound of their words
passes through me
they don’t see me
I might shatter
this corpse is a shell
I am mist
dissolving
and unstable
dissipating in the wake
of their breath.

They know nothing
of my love
or my loss.
It’s only better to have loved
and lost
if the loving was enough
and the loss
bearable.
The having mocks my life
for it is less betrayal
to believe there is no god
and disbelieve miracles
than to glimpse His face
and be forever denied
his Glory.

Do not lecture me
about patience and optimism
if you have not sat
on the chilled riverbank at dawn
watching the bodies wash ashore
with the incoming tide —
If instead you sip hot tea
standing in a warm kitchen
with your back to the window,
a picket fence you built
blocking your view
of the water.

I would trade those months of Joy
in an instant
to get back all the years
of pain and disfigurement.
I would rather float at the surface
than momentarily soar,
just to be plunged
into the drowning depths
to linger.

© S. Rinderle, 2018

Freedom and Regret

The price I pay
for clarity and conviction
is waking up alone
to breakfast in an empty kitchen
marveling at the loneliness
of the sunrise.

I paid the toll eagerly
at the turnpike
gaining entrance
to an unknown stretch
of road.
I would not rewrite history
even now
as I stand on the shoulder
wistfully watching my younger self
pull a coin from her purse
enthusiastically toss it
into the toll chute
saying yes to what’s next
blissfully cavalier
with her
power.
My eyes well with pride
and grief
at her tender ignorance.

We can only regret
futures that died on the vine
unviable embryos
never brought to term.
We can only know
what we chose.

I must trust in the kindness
of the Divine,
believe in her wisdom –
all else is futility
and dank regret.

But would that there were
a way to enjoy such
unprecedented choice
without the persistent gnaw
of loneliness.

Alas, I am born
too soon.

© S. Rinderle, 2018

Grief (the second movement)

Ending things
before hatred sets in
requires releasing hope
those things will improve
which requires relinquishing
another piece of that relentless optimism
that makes you
you

I believe anything is possible
What stands in the way
is their will
Since I can’t control their choice
I control mine
and choose to stay
patient
longer than reasonable

I’m not a gambler
except in this
each losing hand proof
the big win hides in the next
I’ve lost years at this table
feasting on scraps
as years grow scarce
like bargaining chips
I finally fold

Better to end things
before hatred sets in
before too much is lost
like faith and stamina
sometimes optimism thrives better
at a distance
than under constant vigilance

Life is too brief
my wiser heart finally knows
I can bear the grief
as well as I stomach the rage
and grief
is quicker in passing.

© S. Rinderle, 2016

Muertos

This year
I have built no
altar to the dead.
For the first time
in half my life
I’ve gathered no
keepsakes nor mementos
of those already gone
lit no candles
holding vigil for the death rattle
in what I hasten
to pass.

This year
my life is my altar:
Lost sense of place,
of belonging
and any striving
to make it so.
Lost friends
lost foes
both still beckon
my attention like ghosts.
Lost illusions that people
are anything other than they are
or chose.
Lost hope that I am anything
other than I am –
unrelenting, broken,
tender
and bold.
Lost desire to pretend otherwise.
Lost faith
in my role in progress
my power to
change anything
other than my
self loathing.

This year
my body is my altar:
207 years of legacy ending
my mother will have
no heirs
I only regret
I never wanted them
enough
never trusted
never felt a tribe
of sturdy shoulders around me
knew
it was only up to me
and it was the one thing
I couldn’t do alone.

It is Samhain.
I fling my belongings to the winds
burn letters to ash
under a full moon
merciless and unforgiving
remembrances now hollow and thin
like abandoned trees.
I lay waste to the past
cauterizing
my rotted flesh.
I must be buoyant and
aerodynamic.

I weep
only because of the smoke.

I urge the months on quickly
seasons to pass expeditiously.
I’ve had enough of deaths.
This year
I lay my barren womb
and stubborn ghosts to rest.

Next year
I will have come back to life
my essence revived
resurrected from ash
by the sun.

Next year
I will be
phoenix.

© S. Rinderle, 11/1/15

 

Intolerance

I have become allergic to my life
habitual thoughts now blur my mind
cover my eyes with sticky film
convert my zest to lethargy
coerce focus into distracted myopia

habitual tropes and memes
invade my throat and nostrils
tender mucous membranes
mount an attack to expel
offending foreigners
mundane reports of murder
meanness, bigotry
celebrated stupidity
provoke nausea
my deepest bowels
roil in toxic discomfort
unable to digest the daily feed
of meaninglessness

habitual people
poison my skin
I break out in boils at their touch
sleep-less for the obsessive itching
this thin barrier
between me and you
crawls with tiny parasites
I want to run
so the wind resistance
knocks their stabbing, sucking mouthparts
away from my blood

habitual places
enter my lungs like noxious smoke
obnoxious smog
polluting where grief resides
once pure fresh
and cobalt blue
memories follow me like clouds
loss and regret
I can’t see through
can’t breathe true
despite my coughing

I have become allergic to my life
What was habitual is now intolerable
the accumulation overwhelms
I have become antibody to my own flesh
all passageways to the outside world
clogged, constricted
sore, irritated
depleted

Perhaps I need a thorough cleanse
stronger meds
stricter rules
further tests

Maybe I need to migrate
to a more suitable climate
like thousands of misunderstood infirm
misfit fledglings
midlife metamorphing
heeding an internal beacon
navigating the uncharted
before me.

© S. Rinderle, 2015