Proposal — A Dream

The apartment is on the topmost floor of an old brownstone. If I stand on the landing and look over the railing’s edge, I can see the banister march its way down the stairs — at each landing, it curves sharply back on itself and creates a vertical, oblong tunnel all the way to ground level far below.

Having accepted his invitation to visit, I find myself in a large, open room that takes up the majority of this space — it must be fifty feet in length and twenty feet wide; the ceiling flies away into shadow overhead. Large drop cloths almost entirely cover the chipped but shiny black-planked floor. One long wall is painted a pale gray, and the room’s smaller, far wall is candy-apple red and inset with huge cobalt blue-framed windows that look out over the street below. There is no need for curtains so high up. Sunlight streams unobstructed through the great, wide panes of open glass. The dark wood banister defines the room’s other length, its railing all but obscured by random shelves thrust up against it. Shelf after shelf, filled with art supplies — single sheets of watercolor papers and great, thick pads in various weights and sizes; pencils, pens, paints, pastels; brushes; clay, plaster, canvasses.

I could be very happy here but am a little uneasy about becoming involved. He tells me he wouldn’t have invited me if he were in another relationship — he wants to commit. Silently, I study him — his face is mostly hidden by sleek, straight, dark hair fringing his cheeks and brow; but he is trim and lithe with smooth, tan skin, and a chin and sweep of jawline that suggest sensitivity. As I consider, my gaze moving over him, over this living space, he busily preps a canvass, stretching and securing it to a sturdy frame. There is utterly no tension in his body as he bends over his work, his movements graceful, assured. Without glancing from his task, he tells me the decision is entirely mine — to accept his proposal or decline. Completing the frame, he says he’ll give me a moment to consider, and rises, descends the staircase. I hear his feet pad softly down the steps.

Again, I look at this great, open, airy room, with its abundance of natural light and opportunity. Behind me, there is another closed room to the right of the wide landing. I open this smaller door to peer inside — it is an unfinished, small, and cozy space that would make a perfect bedroom. Stepping out again, my hand still resting on the door handle, I see another apartment opens directly off the top of the landing, occupied by a quiet, scholarly type who keeps mostly to himself. I catch a glimpse of him, his back turned toward me. He has short red hair and neatly trimmed beard and mustache; wears dark-rimmed glasses, blue plaid shirt and khakis.

When the artist returns, my little dog rushes happily to greet him. I realize I’ve made my decision. I will stay. I’ll accept his offer. Though he receives this news placidly, he is elated. Together, we sit on the floor in the large room. When he takes up a handful of brushes, chooses paints, collects his canvass, I lie down on my side to watch, my arm crooked beneath my head. I tell him I don’t like my picture taken — I don’t like my crooked tooth, my round-tipped nose. Quietly, he sets all his tools in his lap and says, gently but with challenge: “You don’t see what I see. You don’t know what I’ll paint.” I’m a little embarrassed. He’s right.

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“Artist’s Room” — C.Birde, 11/15



Morning Walk — Images

We walked this morning. Two bipeds, one quadruped, together breathing in a mild mid-morning.

Rattlesnake Meadow

“Rattlesnake Meadow” — C.Birde, 11/27/15

Rattlesnake Meadow flickered with a wind’s breath that slipped between blown cattails. Snowbirds tittered and darted with sparrows too quick, too subtle for my eye to name.

Blown Cattails

“Blown Cattails” — C.Birde, 11/27/15

A Red-tailed Hawk skimmed the meadow’s reed-sawn edge to roost in a slow-decaying tree. Patient, he surveyed the landscape. So much hidden within those pale grassy blades — I missed the Snowy Egret; I’m certain he did not.


“Totem” — C.Birde, 11/27/15

At our walk’s end, a white-tailed deer wove ahead across our path, unconcerned by our intrusion. A fortunate start to a late-November day.

Myth — A Poem


grounded —

the sea stretched and foaming before us,

slope-shouldered dunes whispering

at our backs —

We stood side by side,

sand tugging toes,

necks craning

to lift squinting vision up,

to see —

To witness

myth and fancy

spread over the wide blue expanse of sky,

riding subtle, fingering breezes

at the ends of tethered lines.

— C.Birde


“Pegasus” — C.Birde, 11/15



Leak — A Dream

Water presses from all sides, a constant squeeze upon my dive suit. As old and worn as the suit is, the fish-bowl helmet affords unobstructed visibility in all directions. The ocean piled atop me is beautiful — serene, quiet, teaming with life. Craning my neck within the helmet, I watch minute bubbles spiraling up alongside my oxygen tube. Each snakes independently toward the surface through blue and green layers of sea.

My partner and I work together to examine a large pylon-like structure that thrusts from the ocean floor. Its antiquity is evident in the thick layer of barnacles crusting the object. Generations of anemones have settled upon it and wave opaque tentacles in the ceaseless current, while crabs scuttle expertly over its uneven surface. But the pylon needs attention and repairs. We’re uncertain what’s wrong with it and how we’ll manage restoration.

My more immediate concern, however, is the water leaking into my helmet — the Scotch tape seal has lifted and a slow rise of sea water climbs within the glass, lapping against my neck, my chin, my jaw. Ineffectually, I attempt to mash the tape back down, by my movements are slow and awkward. My hands, encased in heavy gloves, are poor instruments for such delicate work.


“Leak” — C.Birde, 11/15


Persistence — A Poem


I see the cracks,

the chips and fissures.

Tattered edges, fraying seams.

I hear the noise,

the thrum and tumult

near-constant as sea tide.

It breaks my heart.

It compels me to clear my eyes

and strengthen my resolve

to magnify those signs,

however small,

of persistent

hope and


— C.Birde




Choices — A Dream

The gray sea stretches out toward the horizon beneath a vast, gray sky. Hovering over white-capped wavelets is a blue telephone box (yes, excruciatingly similar to the Tardis). Hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, a dark-clad man steps from the box and walks away across the sea without dampening the soles of his shoes. The phone box’s door gapes, moving back and forth with the wind and groaning against its hinges. And we, gathered on the shore and disheartened by his apparent failure, watch silently as he leaves us behind. Then, the sea begins to boil…

Two objects rise from the tossing, gray waters — one resembles a cross-section of large, white pvc pipe; the other, a rat’s nest of steel wool. These should be inanimate, harmless, simple detritus thrown up onto the shore; but they are some how alive and very, very hostile. They give chase, and we flee, stumbling over the sand in our panic.

Beyond a wind-whipped dune I see a Gothic, brownstone mansion pressed against the dull and flattened sky. I press forward, push open the double coffin doors and find myself in a large entry chamber — dark, carved wooden staircase and paneled wainscoting; rich burgundy area rug and stair-runner; William Morris-style wallpaper. At the hall’s far end, a doorway blushes with light. Upon entering, I find a throng of people in an impatient, disorderly line. Standing on a makeshift dais, a man exhorts those on line to “choose well”. He continues, saying that those with a pure heart, who are gentle and kind and good, will pick the correct elixir; whereas those whose hearts and wicked and harbor ill intent and greed will choose wrongly. Apparently, either life or death will result. At the foot of the dais are two cherubic children, each holding a small, clear plastic cup. One child offers a red elixir, the other blue (this time, excruciatingly similar to “The Matrix”). Beyond them, is another room, and I step out of line to peek and find a heavily-curtained, semi-dark room. Candlelight flickers over small groups of people gathered together in plush armchairs and couches, talking quietly. Little empty cups lay scattered about low tables, across the floor. Nervously, they await the results of their choice.

Leaving this scene, I return to take my place at the back of the line. This room has altered radically and now resembles a pharmacy, all sterile white aisles, floors, walls, shelves. As the line slowly inches forward, I have a sudden insight — it doesn’t matter which cup one chooses, that the liquid’s color, red or blue, is insignificant. Rather, the liquid itself holds the life-or-death-granting qualities and is merely colored afterward. The good will survive the drink; the wicked will not. As an individual awaits their outcome, the results are mistakenly ascribed to the liquid’s color by those witnessing.

Regardless, I determine that when my time comes, I shall choose red.

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“Choices” — C.Birde, 11/15

Hickory — An Image

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“Hickory” — C.Birde, 10/15

Arrow-tall Hickory pelts the earth with its potential offspring. In childhood, I spent many a day beneath just such a tree as  squirrel or chipmunk or blue jay; peeling back thick, green, four-petaled husks till my fingernails were tarnished; cracking open the small taupe-brown orbs within; picking out and eating the sweet nutflesh.

Concurrences — A Poem

The air is sweet with toasted leaves

and glass-cool breeze against

my cheek.

While time unspools in eddying pools

and restless heaps about

my feet,

I walk through snapshots,

unsorted frames

of pasts and presents, overlaid —

Autumn picnics,

lone, caged bears,

peaked and slender monuments;

Alter-egos handed

candy, cider,

popcorn balls;

Raking seas of leaves

in mountainous heaps,

and leaping;

Hikes through mazes,

tall and golden;

Small hands growing,

letting go;

A hundred knocks and more

upon our door

in a single night —

My aging, ageless self sees

each image simultaneous;

Concurrent moments captured

amid the blaze of Autumn-colored



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“Autumn Leaves” — C.Birde, 11/1/15