CS2 Stock

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I wake up to the hum of traffic from the freeways that loop and curve around everything in Southern California. It’s the way people here orient themselves – east of the 55, south of the 91, just off the 57 . . . sometimes it’s hard to remember that the mountains and hills define the boundaries of this place – not the asphalt. I get up because my mind hints at poetry - a spark of rhythm and pattern, the shadow of an image. I light a candle in the living room so I won’t wake up P and remember a time when I would have thought it romantic to write by candlelight – now my vision just strains.

I write lists of ideas, snips of one-liners, a stilted stanza – doodle along the edges of the paper until I drift into the sounds I used to wake to: a train making its way along the tracks spanning across the water at Bay St. Louis, the late night echoes of musicians jamming long after the party was over on Bourbon St. I usually snatch up those memories and pack them back into the suitcase of my psyche. But tonight I let myself know that all my points of orientation have been erased. No matter how far away I've lived, thoughts of home kept me grounded – held my identity. I don’t recognize myself in the gaping buildings, the miles of land turned into junkyards, the markings on houses left by those looking for the dead . . . To bring myself back I run my fingers over the tear in the corner of the couch, listen to the drip of the kitchen faucet, see my cat’s eyes shining in the dark from under the coffee table.

The repetition of a big rig’s horn snags the air but this time I listen past the traffic to the silence trapped in the folds of these hills and mountains. Maybe before long I will find the poetry in mourning.