Finishing Well

Gina Marselle

Gina Marselle | January 21, 2022

“My face carries all of my memories. Why would I erase them?”
by fashion designer, Diane Von Furstenberg

Mother Earth rotates endlessly
like Time has hours to spare.
The sun’s rays effortlessly shine
as seasons beautify for change.

One year turns to many
as our children grow. Echoes of laughter
race down the hall. Dust settles and ivory paint
fades amber, yet our home is still warm.

Autumn gathers brilliant leaves, as tail-wagging dogs crash through
scattering mountain-high piles into disarray.
Once, we made leaf angels alongside a path lined with ancient cottonwoods.
Bright yellow leaves rained down on us in slow motion–one leaf at a time.

Aging isn’t about growing old, it’s about finishing well–
with joy and little regret.
Embrace all that has
shaped who we are.

Listen. Time beats like heartache and love.
It’s sweet smelling like apple pie.
Then one day, lines etch your face, and you’re finally an enlightened woman
sitting atop the Sandia Mountains sharing aphorisms about growing wise.

Reading of Finishing Well by Gina Marselle

Avocado

“Every object and being in the universe is a jar overflowing with wisdom and beauty, a drop of the Tigris that cannot be contained by any skin. Every jarful spills and makes the earth more shining, as though covered in satin… Make peace with the universe. Take joy in it. It will turn to gold. Resurrection will be now. Every moment, a new beauty.”

~ Rumi

The Hass Avocados at the grocer
are sad looking fellows.
But, in January,
during a pandemic,
lucky there’s even a selection.

The avocados are little soldiers,
leaning against each other in the quiet bin
that someone haphazardly dumped them into.
Overflowing with this versatile fruit.

Throughout the day
people have eyed, touched, tossed the wonderful loot—
searching for that one, impossibly dark green, ripe ‘cado
that’s ready to devour. Biting into its soft, succulent meat
is a tongue’s treasure.

Finding that one
that’s creamiest
for salads, wraps, dips.

It’s a goldmine. $1.79 each. Joy.
Not too high a price to taste divine.
The nutrients are much: potassium, vitamins E, B6, C,
magnesium, folate, and it’s what I love the most—
healthy fats.

My turn to search. Looking through the pile—
This one has sagging skin, that one full of dents and bruises. It’s a no.
O, there is one, a little beauty. It has a little give when I touch it,
It’s soft near the stem, the stem pops off with a slight touch.
I imagine the vibrant, green flesh beneath. The sound seed
hidden inside, protected.

I love to root the seed
and watch it grow.
I make my purchase and head home.
Ready for the creamy, nutty taste of this buttery avocado.

Gina Marselle © January 15, 2022

listen to my poem on my SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/gina-marselle/avocado

follow me on instagram @gigirebel

Until the Sun and Stars Meet in Glory

Note: please listen to the poem here: https://soundcloud.com/gina-marselle/glory/s-RBmKOssZVEB

I.

There was a time before I loved horses.
I was so little then,
I probably had a made up name for horse.
By the time I was 7 or 8, that is all I talked about.
Soon, my soul transformed into a horse.
I had a best friend horse, a soulmate before I turned 10.
Santa brought her, and we were inseparable for 16 years. 
Her hoofbeats summoned my dreams,
we galloped into a love not of this earth.
Ancient like the desert sands.
Horses became a mantra for breath.
Then, I only dreamed for 20 some years.

Now, a daughter raised, a son who is 9,
I have this rescue horse that
isn’t a dream, he breathes fire
into my heart.
He’s desert bound with the clear, blue sky as his kingdom. 

II.

This afternoon, I felt most lost to myself.
When I get like this, when my anxiety is about to break me,
I drive to Edgewood. As soon as I pull into the stable, 
I see the horses.
When I close my car door, I can already hear my horse
nickering his greeting. Shaking his head. Trotting in his paddock.
His tail raised high telling everyone that he is an Arabian horse.

The color of midnight. 
His nicker makes his body quiver. His hello is for me—or for carrots.
Today, he gets a giant Honeycrisp apple
and leftover, bruised pears my son didn’t eat during the week.

III.

I try to remember life is lovely. Days are blessings. 
On days that I forget, 
I take a drive to Edgewood.
to find that little girl I use to be.
She was brave, courageous. She had a loud laugh. 
She rode bareback and galloped over the hillsides. 
I don’t ride my rescue horse. 
I don’t have that courage anymore.  
Instead, I dream we are running wild across the desert landscape. 
We are one as we chase the wind, leaving plumes of dust 
in our wake. The sun sits warm on our backs. 
My mother died last September. I have been a little lost. 
My husband moved out last October. 
I became a little more lost. 
COVID-19 never left. I became a little more lost. 
My horse doesn’t understand his job, 
but his therapy keeps my heart beating. 
In my dreams, we gallop until the suns and stars meet in glory. 

IV. 

This says to the world more than any poem, 
that I am before all else a lover of horses.
In my soul, my bloodstream. My very heart beat. 
Fascinating is that a human heart and a horse’s heart 
can begin to synchronize within 35 feet of each other. 
The only thing closer, I think, 
is when the mother is pregnant with her child. 
God knew before I was born, 
that my spirit belonged to the horse. 
My mother loved horses. 
My mother’s mother loved horses. 
I love horses. 
I'm a protector of them. 

V. 

I believe this love will be the last memory of mine,
as my final breath leaves my body. 
I hope that as I enter into the next light, I am granted 
a steed to ride the stars wildly and happily. 
If a shooting star you see, call me Joy as my hands
merge into one with the fire mane of my horse’s light. 
My laugh will be loud. My smile wide. 
I will send light. 
And my loved ones will know joy. 

© Gina Marselle, January 8, 2022

Note: This poem was inspired by a writing prompt shared by Liza Wolf Frances (https://saturdays-sirens.com/liza-wolff-francis/). We read a poem by Lisa Fay Coutley called: Letter to the Aftermath. We created a word bank to use in a poem we wrote. My word bank from Coutley’s poem was as follows: heart shape, fall, leaves, 73 °, sunny, plumes of white clouds, desert, mountain, chickens, dirt, son, leaves, tomatoes, horse snort, sun and stars, warm air, peaches, bruised pears, apples and dust. To learn more about the poet, visit here: https://lisafaycoutley.com/poems/.  
Self Portrait (Inside Horse’s Eye) with My Rescue Horse, Rafiq | Gina Marselle | Taken 12/30/2020

Abecedarian for Abrazos

Abrazo is the word for hug in Spanish. Brazos is the word for arms. Carrying arms, calm arms, crazy arms wrapping around you. Daring to love you. Even just for a moment’s greeting. Fleeting and quick, or perhaps, at times, enduring. Grab you out of your own space and world, no, that’s not the type of hug I’m talking about. Hopeful, held, healing, those are the embraces I speak of. In this pandemic, I miss casual abrazos from acquaintances. Jolly. Kindhearted. Lovely, put you at ease, hugs. Make you feel like you know each other, trust each other, at least a little. Not awkward, a simple greeting. Or hugs of friends that might linger, like you’re holding onto something precious. Perhaps love, a caring, an importance. Quiet, unspoken, the work of brazos. Reaching arms, reaching for you, for me, reaching love, reaching. Sacrament, sacred. Trust. Under the sky we have all been hurt beneath, same sun, same moon. Volumes of possibility. Where we all feel closer, safer, stronger. Xerox copies of hugs seem like all I have. Yearn, I yearn for that closeness I never knew I would miss. Zero hugs from friends now, zero from acquaintances, zero is too few and yes, I miss them without having known I would have.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Dear loved one

who finds my writings after I die,

This is a confession. I want you to see me 

through my words. In life, 

I wanted someone to see me, 

perhaps we all do in some way 

or another. See how tortured I was 

about the future of our planet, 

of our children, about their promised 

adventures to famous rainforests 

and sunsets of gold that might hold them 

in a light that makes this life endurable, 

even incredible. I want you to see 

how I fell in love with art and writing,

with the way artists create 

with pieces of their soul they can’t part with, 

but in the end, let the pieces go, the way 

colors fade in and out of being each hour. 

Tibetan sand artists create the most 

intricate designs in chalk, leave them 

to rain, wind, time. I tried 

to create beauty like that. Nothing 

is permanent, I know, but I worried 

about why our world didn’t change 

for better. In the end, maybe 

it doesn’t matter. I hoped to form 

some truth between flight patterns 

of butterflies and buzzards. I imagined

something different, but in all of it,

I just lived day to day, being human.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Scent Memory

by Emily Bjustrom

Diving past the general mills factory
A sweet scent wafts into the car
It reaches deep past my guts and through my spine
into the backseat of my dad’s car.

In the driver’s seat he takes an exaggerated sniff says what do you think? I think coco puffs, No! Froot Loops.

There are places in my childhood I can touch without flinching

But here is something swollen and heavy

It’s the sense of safety
Sleepy but happy in the back of the car
Head against the window

I can’t reach it without the scent of baking cereal drifting in through the open window.

It floors me again and again.

I am weeping on the highway
For the child was
And the woman I am.

Invention of Heartbreak

by Emily Bjustrom

I feel I invented heartbreak-
Tinkering over a magnifying glass with tiny sharp tools- I made of my pain
A delicate and soft pocket watch!
That I open and close
On the way home from work
Or while I wash my hair or stir the soup on the stove
The clasp whispers open and shut
Miss you
Miss you
Miss you

I try over and again
To jam the pocket watch into the empty socket you left in my gums
I tongue it over and over
Miss you

The watch won’t fit
Heartbreak can’t fill the space where love has been
Yet it ticks and turns
I pet it and wait

For your mood to change.

Letters

Katrina Kaye

He was never articulate,
educated yet unimaginative.
He knows this.
He knows I know this.

It is not that I expect poetry
over prose. I am the writer
between the two.
It is an old anxiety
only recently resurfaced.

He does not write to me.
Instead he sends me sketches.

One of coffee in a paper cup,
planes in the background through large
thick windows.
One of the rails of a balcony with a
river rushing below.
One of me, lip bite and eyes shining
as I watched him go.

His words are simple,
“I miss you” and “thank you.”

In my letters,
I ask him about the weather,
he sketches the rain on the window.
I ask him if he is keeping busy,
he sketches a sketch of him sketching
within a sketch of him sketching.

I ask him if he’s lonely,
he sketches my face among the rumpled
blankets of morning, sun streaking
from the windows behind me.
He sketches two children playing
invisible violins and reading each other’s palms.

Her ghost does not haunt these pictures,
and I wonder where he keeps her now.

If her wrapped body still
hangs heavy in his hands,
if the slideshow in his mind
still flashes on her crumpled body.
If he still blames himself
for being moments too late.

I know he does.

I ask him if he had forgiven himself,
he sketches houses rebuilt and clear skies.
In a moment of weakness,
I ask him if I will ever see him again.
To this he replies with words,
hand scrawled and sloppy,
“I count the days, my dearest friend.”

 

Bound for Great Things

Katrina Kaye

Chicago wants your hands,
the creases of your knuckles,
the calluses on fingers.
New York is hungry for your history,
a collection of the photographs
your mind took and formed into line
and oil. Boston knows too well
the way you weave your words
onto a canvas.

I am just a girl in New Mexico
sitting by window sill,
bandaging the blisters,
filling journal with words
that belong to the last picture
left on the
your palms.

I am too soaked to continue
to sponge the pain that leaks
over your rim.

You are wasting time among desert,
choking on the dry memories of youth,
attempting to rebuild the house
you burnt to the ground ten years ago.

You have not built a home in my bed,
you are merely hiding there,
tracing eternity on my sheets
pretending to be the boy who left me
at the train station.

They call to reclaim their wayward son,
posing pretty, waiting for your hands
to reclaim their essence.

Down the River

after Mary Oliver’s “Crossing the Swamp”

Here is the bend:
in the whispering trees
in the babbling water
where cattails cackle
with secrets
untold.

Here is the river:
where oar
breaks water
makes a stir
of ripples
sharing gossip with geese
busy-ness of beaver dam
carries on
and on.

Here is life:
undisturbed
and always disturbed
by growing
and going
moving against current
where river
is never
the same
letting the current
take me away
where I am
apart–

a part
of something always changing
always moving
rising
falling
ebbing
flowing
freezing
thawing

going–

around the bend again
where dead tree
finds life
dried reed
is resuscitated
wet
and glistening
and the cat-tails yowl
and tortoise sneers
and water sings
with its breathing chorus.

Here I am;
around the
river
bend.

© Maxine L. Peseke