The sun melted like marmalade over the hill, early dark ushered in on crow’s wings, and she settled on the porch boards in the light of a jack-o-lantern who’d seen better days, with the new kitty perched at her side. Handsome, tuxedoed fellow sporting delicate, white toes – he murmured encouragement in a raspy purr, and she sipped a hot toddy before turning the cards on the Black Cat Deck.
“Ah, Kitty darling, your past.” Of course, of course, the bold, ever-impetuous Knight of Swords. “Unafraid, pugnacious, eager for challenge. This is a young kitty, a kitty who has not, in fact, seen the elephant. (And might spit at him if he did.) Here is a gypsy kitty, a traveler, a jack-of-all trades.”
Kitty blinked in the firelight, his eyes the color of sage, nose twitching at the distant scent of burning leaves, ears full of the owl’s hoot - reflecting upon his six autumns and marveling at his several remaining lives.
“The middle card is your present.” She stabbed with a finger. “See the artist kitty-cat? The Ace of Wands speaks to your creative side. Are you feeling inspired?”
Oh indeed! Inspiration had come in the form of midnight mouse hunts, basement exploration, the emptying of the bathroom cupboard. He’d created a nest of quilt batting beneath the boy’s bed and a launching pad from the girl’s windowsill. This, his latest home, was a simple place, but also marvelous. One might say magical.
“At last, Kitty Dear, your future.” She flipped the card and steepled her fingertips, leaning close in the candlelight. “Ah, how lovely, how auspicious! You’re well on your way to achieving mighty deeds. The Nine of Cups is the wish card! If you remembered to make a wish before we began, it’s sure to come true now.”
Kitties are more doers than wishers, but he had indeed considered . . . perhaps, he’d thought, a tin of sardines might go over well.
And so, he tolerated the kiss she planted atop his head and washed his whiskers rather more quickly than normal, leaving behind the moon and the burnt pumpkin scent with the aplomb of one who knows his escape route.
“The wish card has a powerful magic.” Inside, she set sardines on bone white china. “Sim sala bim! Here you are, Prince Kitty!”
He might, he reflected, keep this human
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
I'm not a poetry reader, isn't that a shame? That's a bit like saying “I don't listen to music”, which would be unthinkable. So I'm setting out, this summer, to remedy that situation, and when Mary Oliver crossed my facebook page – the way so many poets, authors, and artists do, just in the random act of a friend hitting the “share” button – I decided the time is now. I've ordered her “A Thousand Mornings” and may even give it precedence over my annual reading of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Summer has bruised me, this year, with too many stresses, ill tempers, unfinished projects and unanticipated bills. The drawn-out decline and final, horrid death of my beloved dog, Boo. Heat that clings like a viscid second skin. Poison ivy on my shins.
I've created a quiet spot in the woods near my house – arranged two sky-blue Adirondack chairs around the roots of a giant maple, hung wind chimes and bird feeders, strung fairy lights where the overhead branches dip down almost to the ground. The effect is something like a child's secret hideaway, walls and ceiling of jeweled green, dirt floor soft and cool. In the evening, when the sky is plum-colored and the bats cutting capers above the house roof, I can feel my soul unwind. I can almost believe in magic.
Ah Lord, life would be better, wouldn't it, if we could all subscribe to that simple ideology?
October came on gilded wings in the night, and by morning the air was clear and sweet as champagne, another summer laid to dusty death.
A year gone by, then, since last the witches danced on Samhain. New growth spurts, new loves, new wrinkles, but, look – while all has changed, it yet remains the same, and that is the gift of the season. October’s ghosts are the sweetest; they beckon us forward and call us backward all at once. Rush outside and the air will lift you up - carry you like a scarlet tumble of leaves – and on it you will hear the echo of every self you’ve ever been, and every self you will be.
Who could deny magic in October?
Remember small tennis shoes pounding the pavement on Halloween night? Glo sticks bracketing wrists, ghoul faces grinning – the wind caught their capes, and they flew, didn’t they? Up and up on the new, sharp wind, right into forever.
Remember nineteen? What is was like to be poised, sure-footed on the cliff of adulthood? God, what a flight, from the railroad bridge to the water below with the moon cutting the sky and the stars chasing each other in the current. That love, that year, was the sweetest love – kisses tasted like candy apples; every breath was dizzying.
Look back, look back – first real football game, so small! The cat costume that every sibling wore, the orange forever candle, bonfires and cemetery walks, baby’s first costume – all in colors that swirl and riot and escape the memory before the painter’s brush slaps the canvas.
But here – today, the wind smells like apples and the sky is hard and blue as bone china. October beckons like a siren song. Magic is ours for the taking – hold it in your palm and blow it into flame; it won’t burn you. The wind scatters the leaves off the hill into a bright, tumbling wave, and the ghost voices are calling you to fly.
Oh, jump into that current. Love like a child, run like your feet have wings – wine is the sweetest this time of year, love spells last forever, and tomorrow is poised on tip-toe right around the corner.
Hello, sweet October! We love you!
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