The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
The Secret of the Dragonfly: A Diary of Love at the Beach
Today, I have thoughts of separation and losses on my mind; the 10th year anniversary of my father’s death, and my youngest son leaving home. They are in the mirror when I put makeup on, and on my shopping list for skim milk and blueberries.
They are in the walls of my house where I remember them both on special days – silhouettes of their heads follow me. Their faces are blanked out. I can’t see what is really going on; the memories whirlpool me to go back and to look at their faces. It always seems as if I need to attach and detach in life. Get close – bond – lose someone and then remember them. The idea of the question rolls across me. I sit on the arm of my beach chair: A plastic form of temporary comfort that aims to make sweetness out of the sands. I watch the clouds knowing that they are collections of water and vapor that look different depending on the coolness or the heat from the season.
The dragonfly is a witness to my stomach when it pains to the unquestionable emptiness -- the internal ship wreck of separation that grows and grows in the middle of my body – I look up toward the possibilities of the world outside of me. Then, beyond the dead below my beach chair and screeching to a pre-cloud boundary before I crash into my next life, I pose the questions to the dragonfly on the roof of the swale: “Where do we go when we leave each other? And why do we separate?
As the cluster of dragonflies hover upon my thoughts and my words of mental force, even though I say it out loud – and into the sand and the water that now appears to be deaf, they flap their wings 15 times a minute instead of the usual 30. There’s a sound of low motors in water that emanates from them: A humming that lasts a minute and then a draw from their minds in unison from the natural mind of one world. Then, as I watch them leave one at a time, they show me that the separation from the group gives each one her own life - a life that needs to be different from the others if it is to be of any use to the group. Acknowledging a separate purpose is needed if they are to fly, eat other insects, and drop their eggs into the water.
The sky is turning purple. I remember that a solar eclipse is going to happen soon. The leaves and clouds darken. It makes me happy to see the control of nature around us; the moon to pass in front of the sun. The dragonflies have disappeared. They fly away from the darkness confused by the fast change of light to dark.
When the dragonfly first appeared it was familiar to me. As it flew overhead I stiffened up and waved it away thinking I would be attacked by the slim insect like a bomber plane from WWII. I wanted to take cover on the beach where it takes the sky hostage. The see-through colors of their wings make them appear as if they are tiny fairies; their fragility is not to be confused with what I have come to understand about them; that they are messengers of inspiration.
There are no bones in their bodies that can break. Their eyes see 360 degrees around the world, from the wasps that compete for food, to the wind that dangles softly on the tip of their flight. Their wings are their worldly icon. They flutter hundreds of times less than other insects to stay airborne during the same time span. Within days I went from fear of the dragonfly, to looking for them. My dragonfly heals and leads. I am now a student to the life of an insect – he is a sage to my world.
Somewhere we met.
It could have been when a cloud passed overhead during a December day in 2009. What the world was thinking, as it busied itself in its direction of survival and rejuvenation, is not what I can remember. Within moments Bill and I were gathering our lives together across two counties; sharing red wine, dark chocolate, and flowers that he would bring to me on Sundays. Soon after, we took trips to the beach on Staten Island during the winter days watching grimacing gulls cling to fence posts.
This afternoon, the rain joined us over the new blades of grass. We entered the deluge in small pieces. The umbrella was the roof with good intent as it beat with different rhythms from the rain. The wind wrapped around our conversation – our objective to live alone for a few hours was shared out of our destiny. I swallowed a view of the dragonfly, not so gently, at the 3 pm hour as the umbrella was tightly held onto and pushed further into the softened ground; indeed a white pole with a blue cover over us.
With Bill I find a fortune. It beckons in the light at the dirty shore lining up along his hair line as the sea gulls take the fried potatoes from our breakfast. “Sometimes you can throw them up and they catch them,” he yells out. I see him in a way that he will never be able to see himself. From behind with a white plastic bag that holds the food from his French-toast plate, he is finished now and roams back to me. He is looking at me. I am on the chaise lounge – the water is a low humming train and the breeze from the wing of a gull comes toward us. The heat of the day is strong. Square type logs are cross-sectioned in different spots. A barge stacked with different colored logs from a deck tubes along in the water.
It’s the simple beauty here that he loves. The water, weathered in a small storm that wanted to eat our day with small bites. “The drops,” he says, “I feel them.” Then I am laughing more than usual. He likes it. Then he is numb and in the air and I can see his green eyes on top of mine. In the light of the found sands that blast into me I think; ‘If I tell you how much I need you, will you still love me? If I tingle the nuances of your mental vibrations over a single strum of your guitar will you still want me?’
Fury and small laughter are in the edges of the poison ivy. We avoid the brush of the triangle leaf plant. We avoid other issues. We skate on the pond of sand - yards away from the forefront of crashing into the waves. It changes on its own. Everything does. We walk onto a path that has no poison ivy or oak.
Into the eyes of the path two butterflies swirl and kick their heads in unison. A shadow of a man, behind the bushes, stares into our chairs. It’s a day to be lifted in nature.
“The trees bash and make a symbolic sound in a tempered way,” Bill says.
We are reminiscent of past lives. I still see my father who died 10-years ago. He slipped into the vein of a tree as he left his house in February. He grabbed the frame of his door and said, “Cancel the ambulance,” as I dialed 911 to take him out of his room to the fold of assisted oxygen. To be lifted into the permanent memory of his children, I whispered, “Has mother asked for permission to journey yet?”
The trees answer to the wind. Here on the beach where I swear that I will love Bill forever, dark trees silhouette with monster outlines giving definition to the reincarnated sky. We lend our space to the passing of plant life. Delving into the past swirling suns, I reach into the theme of my life and mirror it into my future.
Hello, is anyone there?
The trees are the family where breaches of commitments are challenged. They don’t change the way they look; they just don’t. It is the music, it is the beach. Music that stays the same – everything else has changed. We change – the grass and weeds grow, turn brown, die and squash down into the earth. I am reminded that what I talk about is “minutia.” He cannot follow me. It is not that he is not interested in hearing about my life – but he can’t sort it out right now. It is my father unavailable again. All over – not now - later I can’t focus. Later he talks about life from the point of view of experience. I listen. I want to. Even the small stories give big insights. Tell me! I long to hear about the events, and the pictures, that you have that I cannot see no matter how hard I try I can only see you.
The layers are before me in greens that I have never seen quite this way. When I look to my right it gets so dark turning black in the center of a cluster of vines and trees and bushes – one white butterfly wipes it wings close to us. It has to know that it is beautiful. The leaves test the sun and dare it to dry them out. They give shade to the branches below for the future buds. They turn yellow in surrender. I am pink. I am tan. Bill turns brown in the days of sand and bites of beer. He throws bread to a lone gull that soars in the dust of watery clouds so close then all turns grey. Triplet twigs compete with each other for sky room in the swale. Can you kiss me now? Are we connected in the voice of the leaves that are drunk with love?
“I never tire of coming here – it’s like the Staten Island Ferry,” he says. Bill sees a Monarch butterfly. Quick, I want it to slow down. I go to speak, catching myself – don’t tell – don’t talk. I stop from wanting to share.
Within light leaves I squander tears. Softened yellow-green that sprouted only hours ago; I can conquer myself into the fence where plants live as a side line to my applause, but do not take a bow yet. When light hits the trees all the colors change. They aren’t asked or consoled. But the stage is set and they are the stars. We waited for the rain. It never came. It was swallowed up in the dry drops of sun that reared a lovely head of a long full nature.
I desire. I crave. I glean into the stars. One spot of light from the bushes sparks out toward us. Bill talks but the light stares me in the eye – branches like racks with leaves of clothes line up and allow me to think about organization.
Above my chair branches hold tiny leaves that look like pennies. Is it me or could it have been anybody? Do we pick the nature of a person or the person of a nature? The onenesses with cells that are fragmented and broken into form leave me when I need them the most. Lines of branches in uniform from the earth are right in front of me and they stand alone.
Into the wild of vegetation that inch toward the waist line of lone surfers, I find the life of a cluster of weeds. They grope in line of ropes on a fisherman’s net. Too many suns have brushed the hairs on my finely tuned toes into Bach Sonatas – melodies embrace and long for the answer. Bring the grass that we step on into to the truth. Where did our love go? Where did we find this love? Life is my glorious dance with you. And the weeds speak … straight through the thoroughfare of bounty on the watery land of Staten Island. Scratchy and lamenting music from speakers from a Zune, that zoomed into the day; with a small breeze so antique I can’t count the years. Loud and uplifting! Abigail Lopez with green eyes turned inside out – where are you?
We fall asleep in the din of bird wings and their screams to each other. Help and life come along when we don’t think that it will.
It was raining when we first got here today. We took a walk to the boardwalk to consider sitting under it to keep out of the rain. Sly blocks with tar smell provide a ceiling that I don’t want – we lose interest in the under-the-board walk setting. We want to swale in the rain to find ourselves again. It swears to us that we belong here – branches that grow like living room shelves; earth soft to absorb the water and ice we leave behind at the end of the day. The rain came and the Monarch had showed its expanse of orange wings over the green tipped grass – then we knew: Better to take a chance and be happy than to be restricted in a dull experience. In the swale we are aware that the dragonfly has disappeared and found death as the rain pummels the roof of the umbrella; then we find life all over again. We live in the nature of our decisions. In the absolute of our minds we let the rain wash our toes open and free.
Beaten wood lined the entrance to our path. We had worn it down from weeks and weeks of walking and making it flat. “The Monarch left,” I said. It had been sitting watching us as we sat under the white umbrella. Then we started to talk about Joni Mitchell. Shortly after, the Monarch had left its post on the top of the tall grass we realized that the dragonfly had eaten it. Reaching the spin on the delicate branch of a leaf collected entity. In the field where the flies swipe along the sweetness in between our toes we keep finding love.
The greens – the trees – they know we are here. They watch from the broad strokes that were in the droplets that tap on the leaves. The ocean is behind us and waves flag for our attention. In the mass of a green that is before us we understand the universe one droplet to the next.
We arrive and the insects have to adjust to our presence. The nature matches our words and lives. I am in love with my husband. I push my life of desire in moments deep with light from the charming sun and the quiet moon. I am in the lush of the desert. Hush – don’t speak – keep the yellow leaves where they belong: Keep my heart racing next to the tunnels of sand where the ants deliver their truth in tiny bites.
Let the massive bumble bee swat me and land on our runway – after all, we have become the invaders, the aliens who don’t co-exist but exist for our egos. Good bye to the weight of your wings that flew past my face in the darkness of the 90 degree sun.
Into the ground:
“So how did Noriko come to stay at your house?”
“I’ve had too many beers,” he says. Now I am curious. When he alludes I have suspicions. I need to know so I can either throw her wedding gifts to us into the garbage or send them back to the French airport.
In the throws of a tree hidden from the sun it reaches in branches toward the light – dripping with hundreds of years of idealized and commercialized identification. In nature I will find me. I will find my thunder in the mix. How dare I reach into the light of the sun on a summer day?
I see shadows of day that set the light apart from the dark. Time in its wisdom lets me look back and plan for my new life – and then I cry. Chords of dissonance are strummed behind my head. Reaching into the chorus of trees that move so slowly one cannot see. Don’t let me be blind now.
Over the water at Southbeach new layers of clouds want to stay. I say the word entrepreneur wrong and I am told. That has become my minutia after the wonderful wine has sent me into the canyons of just living for the moment.
The flies surround us. My arms and ankles are tapped by cellophane wings. Bill says, “We can never teach them a lesson – we can only cope with them.” Sometimes he minimizes my ideas.
I walk into the spot of sun. It’s a beam that opens to show me ideas but thoughts surface of weaving winds and the chimes of grass that hit into each other. Give me the criteria. Tell me all the boundaries that exist before I enter the game. A breeze contains the humidity. Why have I come back here where my mood gets lost?
The air and the citron candle flame along the bottom of the cooler on the outside. I watch the flies in the sand and I remember the words of someone else-she wanted more soap in the words – she declared that I not be a free thinker but that I be clean.
I am swept into the ocean, rowing over the tide and waves, and then I float into the river across the way. My younger son is crying into his pillow. It sobs along with him until the sun arrives and washes it away. Come into the new world my fine son where the beat of the rays in your life say welcome aboard. He asks about the dragonflies that interrupted his daydream on the weekend in upstate New York. He is terrified. I am envious. I wait for them to come to Bill and I before the hurricane. They stay away. They have actually died. They live for only 2 months once they are released from their infant stage. It is now my son’s moment to get the answers from the feared dragon that flies around the world delivering a message without ever biting.
Kareena Maxwell’s novel, Stanley, about President Obama’s mother, published May, 2011 by Jo-an Pictures, Ltd., distributor, Ingram Atlas books; Manville, a story regarding a murder, published in Knock, an Amherst Univ., press, 2009; and she has been published in many literary magazines. Former journalist for the Upper Eastside Informer, and Health & Diet Times, many moons ago in NYC; Maxwell finds herself still in New York City and soon to relocate in the mountains of Arizona. She has written poetry and about life before she even existed. Currently, she is writing 12 Days in Manipur – a love story from India.
Incognito on Memorial Day by Kareena Maxwell
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