You are a special kind of summer day. The kind that doesn’t roll around ’til August when afternoons stretch longer and hotter. The buzz of bees is set to slow motion. The breeze has stopped. I find myself wishing for the brisk chill of fall and the vibrant sunset leaves, but then the warm rays of August sunshine hug me and I do not want to go. Pastel flowers quiver in the vibrations of a distant lulling lawn mower. My eyes blink in long pausing breaths. They will not light up until the sun goes down and the stars… Well, I don’t need to talk about the stars. We’ve all heard about sparkling constellations in the summer sky a thousand times. But you talk about them. You describe their twinkle as if you were the only one to have ever seen stars before, and the rest of us really ought to go check them out sometime. You reach your hands out in front of you and use your fingers to imitate how they glitter. I nod along.
I do not say what I am thinking.
They never could quite make sense of her. Rarely did her behavior warrant a reprimand and yet she wasn’t quite what they wanted her to be. She was strange. Her essence demanded attention, whether she meant it to or not. Just when they thought they had no use for her, they put her on the stage.
Crayola Crayon & Free Hand
They never could quite make sense of her. Rarely did her behavior warrant a reprimand and yet she wasn’t quite what they wanted her to be. She was strange. Her essence demanded attention, whether she meant it to or not.
Just when they thought they had no use for her, they put her on the stage. Suddenly they cheered for what had once befuddled them. The fire they had fought to extinguish was now a flame they clambered to take credit for igniting. It was a fury that gathered crowds, sold tickets, sparked talk all across town, and so the crowds grew and grew.
To be clear, they still hardly approved of her. How could they approve of what they did not understand? But that which they saw they admired. And they no longer asked her to change.
Even in the most joyous of times, the world can drain a soul. Confusion breeds confusion and I question my mind into tangles. With quiet intention, I scan my life, looking to each set of eyes, hoping for answers.
In the first I see only darkness. Faint circles hang beneath eyes that would be lovely were they not so hollow. They sit in a face of skin that has grown gray and gaunt wanting flesh to soften the harsh lines of cynicism. She is bitter. She is cold. I try to make sense of her words but she speaks only perversion so there is no sense to be made of it. Any comfort I try to offer is promptly rejected, so we sit in silence. I stare longer than I should as her brokenness brings me down. Finally she goes away. Still stung by her envy, I search for another pair of eyes.
With great determination, I move along.
The next eyes are blue, bright yet sad. They are hopeful but they are weary. Tiny pupils filled with fear wishing to be brave. Cheeks rosy, lashes long. A face much prettier than its owner knows. There are moments bright and beautiful
before her, smiles so shining and new, but to her they are
tainted by the clinging past and daunting future.
Loved ones gather around her table warmed by a meal she prepares, but she misses the joy in their laughter as she questions if she got the spices just right. I tell her the food is perfection; she tells me I am wrong. Her dearest calls her lovely but she does not hear him as she wonders what everyone in the room thinks of her. Another flicker of fear lights her eyes and I do not want to look anymore.
I welcome the next eyes for they are familiar and kind. Gray like the skies they were raised under and the sea they grew up beside. He talks while the rest of us listen, smoke in the air by a tree I used to climb. Wisdom walks boldly from a soul that has seen much more than mine. Still, he always speaks plainly, eyes growing humbler with the passing of time. For every betrayal, I see no bitterness. Both pupil and iris are steadfast and grateful, fully loving of life. For every hurt I’ve had, he’s hurt more and every sin I’ve forgiven, he’s forgiven double. When asked how he loves the hateful when they hurt without having the right, he says, “Hurt people hurt people, so be understanding and always be kind.”
My grace may wear thin to the hurtful, but I’ll heal in a matter of time, for as I watch him loving the hateful, he builds up the grace in my eyes.
He’s wiser and stronger than people know and not nearly as well behaved as they all seem to think, and for quite some time he’s said to me,
“I like that you know me the best and still love me the most.”
Eyeing the meat of life.
But savory goes sour when canned and candy coated,
And truth bears a scent far too rich when unfolded.
“Don’t write what you’re thinking. Don’t draw what I’ve said.”
Then have a blank page,
And blank canvas,
But you’ll find even that will offend.
If she likes you, she’ll tell you.
If she’s hungry, she’ll eat.
No sugar-coated words or fake smiles from her teeth.
When her body craves motion, she’s quick on the move.
You know she’ll be dancing; You hope it’s with you.
American sweetheart with some spice to her sweet.
Apple pie on a Sunday where the fallen saints meet.
I am the best student at that which is not in the classroom. If puddle jumping were graded, I’d never miss an assignment, although the best part about puddle jumping is that it isn’t graded at all.
If there were tests on how to adore another human, I’d already have my degree. If homework were kisses and laughter and love, I’d be a straight “A” student. My studies would be textbooks pushed off the table that we only use to entangle. Human anatomy learned by my own hands, eyes, lips, legs. Graded papers stacked only to be used as stands for coffee mugs, leaving circular stains as perfect picture frames.
Use your red pen to critique how I sing lullabies and never miss the sadness behind a fake smile. Give me a grade point average for diligence or dedication, patience or passion. Crunch the numbers. Put it on a transcript. Measure my worth if that is what you insist on doing.
But when you find it doesn’t fit on a transcript, that the numbers don’t add up, define me by my score in the classroom, because that is the way things are done.