THE RED LIGHT
Driving amid the traffic
I catch a glimpse of you.
You don’t see me.
Perhaps it is best.
You have aged.
There are lines across your brow.
Gray has peppered your hair.
You have the same nose.
Broad, cartoonish, and dominant.
Funny how some things never change.
The tie is just your style.
You always had a thing for purple.
I never figured you for a truck.
Is there a need for the extra space?
Somehow that does not fit.
We all change across the decades.
I’ll give you some grace.
I like the hula girl doll dancing on the dash.
She is a sparkle of fun despite the truck.
I notice you tap your fingers on the steering wheel.
You always did that.
I think it was a habit of boredom.
I realize I am staring.
The present has entered the past.
I don’t know what the future holds.
The light changes.
It’s green now.
Time to move on.
We kneeled behind the tool shed in her yard. On a hot, August day our freckles gleamed with the sweat of summer. Our knees were skinned from the branches of trees we climbed like squirrels searching for treats. We held our breath becoming statues of curiosity as she emerged from her house. My friend, Bethany, signaled with a long, bony finger to her lips. If we got caught, we were dead. No questions asked.
We heard about her in school. The Moore brothers, all six of them, claimed she could look at you with her green eyes and your entire body would go feeble. Once, Dean, the eldest of the Moore clan claimed she spoke his name and he went completely deaf for a week. Bethany and I wanted a glimpse, but we knew we were flirting with danger as we had ignored the "No Trespassing" sign clearly mounted on her property.
On her porch a gigantic black cat kept watch next to her front door bedazzled by spider webs. Many mice had succumbed to the treachery of his jaws. An old broom propped itself against a dusty window that was clearly a mirror into the unknown. Hearing the creaky door open caused my heart to leap like a grasshopper chasing his prey. Bethany put her hand on my shoulder silently reminding me to be brave.
Gingerly she emerged from her tiny house wearing an old bathrobe sprinkled with pink and yellow flowers. Her purple, fluffy house slippers reminded me of the clouds before a thunderstorm. Her thick white braid snaked lazily down her back. The skin on her face was etched with wrinkles as she bent to stroke the guard cat by her door. An old wooden pipe emerged from her lips as the tobacco smell wafted our way.
I inched closer to Bethany noticing her green and gold specked eyes were wide as saucers. We held our breath as she picked up the broom and began to sweep her porch. From between her pipe and teeth she hummed a familiar tune. It took a few seconds but soon I recognized it as the porch song my Mama sang to me, "You are my sunshine." Bethany knew it too. It was a favorite tune about joy, happiness, and love.
She walked slowly down her four rickety steps. I could feel my temples pounding. Removing her pipe, she stopped singing and called out, "I know somebody is hiding out here. Come on out. I got some oatmeal cookies." Terrified we dared not move. We gazed as she slowly entered her home. Moments later she reappeared with a heaping plate of fresh baked cookies. She set them on the top step and went inside again.
Those cookies smelled divine. Sheer heaven. Next, she appeared with two tall glasses of lemonade. She set the glasses next to the cookies. Her protective cat awoke and stood next to her as she reached down again to pet him. Bethany and I stood up and bravely walked out into the open. She clapped her hands and removed her pipe revealing beautiful pearl white teeth. Her smile was the sun capturing the essence of kindness.
"Well, ladies. You are welcome to a cookie and some drink. Just made both this morning." Bethany and I held hands and walked toward the house. We set on the bottom step as she handed us both a glass and a cookie. Nothing in the world could have tasted better as she began to tell us about her garden, her cat Dale, and her four grown daughters who had all moved to the city.
We knew we best be getting home. Our Mamas would be calling for us. We bid thank you to Mrs. Ledford, our new friend, promising to visit on Thursday when she always made blackberry cobbler and fresh ice cream. We skipped all the way home not uttering a word. We didn't need to say anything. It was obvious the Moore boys were wrong. Mrs. Ledford was not a Cattywampus Monster. She was our new friend.
I'm blowing kisses to the wind
and it doesn't seem to mind.
The wind has no fear of germs
or social distancing. It comes
and goes like a steady friend.
I'm kissing the mirror as a
reminder I'll be okay in a world
of uncertainty and disappointment.
My lipstick affection screams we all
need a little affirmation.
I'm kissing my plants so they will
grow green, leafy, and healthy in
rooms filled with worries and thoughts.
Thrive, thrive, thrive even when the odds
scream for defeat.
I'm very likely to blow a kiss from the
window of my car, across the hallway,
or walking down the street. After all,
what this world really needs is a lot
more love and continual kisses.
There's a pencil on my back
and it takes continuous notes.
It etches words, phrases, and
sentiments into my muscles.
My muscles feel sore from
all the suggestions. I am weighted
down with why, when, how and
a million other questions.
Where is the eraser? Can I scratch
out the past? I'd like a fresh start.
One that is simple, unobtrusive
I feel the heaviness of lead as it
enters my bloodstream. Toxins I
must absorb as part of the decades
passing me by.
It's drawing a picture across my
shoulders. An idea is taking place
in spite of my lack of motivation
to change and grow.
Creativity must emerge. I can't store
it on my back. And so I write and I
write and I write. My pencil is now
my tool rather than my burden.