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anne cunningham

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Longing for the City, is the Country Mouse
by anne cunningham

Monday, July 17, 2006
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Longing for the City, Is the Country Mouse

This fall morning, turning on the tap,
there's a spasmodic wheeze
and then a violent gush,
water the color of weak coffee,
fizzing like champagne,
on the order of brushing my teeth,
 I make a mental note
to lay in more rock salt,
the still waters running,
deep and rusty,
beneath our country house,
all a part of rural living,
our natural well, no match for
the mere mortal Culligan man. 


The minerals are hard,
water needing to be subdued
before it reaches the shower nozzle
or rinsing hair and skin, day's end
will resemble sand-blasting,
versus body and soul renewel,
 skin and tresses set to shine
with store-bought cream soaps and rinses,
in liberal amounts, labels on a promise,
boasting sheen and curl and luster
to die for, all lost
under the cascading water,
falling like rocks
upon our head and hearts.


Blue heron, geese and kingfishers
fly overhead on clear days,
however, less and less so
as subdivisions split the marshlands
in two and three and four lot pieces,
filling in the bogs and sloughs
with quick-sand and Ready-Cement,
the highways playing a different tune,
the bump-thump-grind of teen base
pumping from sport's car trunks,
competing with the waterfowl
in an effort to break
the sound barrier of
the clear blue sky above.


Deer honk-holler in the woods
every morning in our world
if I could just sit still,
long enough to listen for them,
but relaxing on the back deck,
mosquitos search out my blood,
and Fall has brought with it
a swarm of flying ants clinging
to the side of the house,
fighting with the less than lady-like
lady bugs that permeate the walls,
lying in wait in every sill,
despite the fact that their
houses are afire, their children alone.


The odd insect behavior
brings with it the fear over
perhaps an unusually harsh winter,
or in this day and old planet age,
no winter at all, green in full effect,
the mutated frogs in the marshes
no longer singing praises, gone crazy instead,
I'm thinking, as I run to town on errands,
stopping at Kmart to kick off rubied slippers,
in search of all-weather soles and thick socks,
the car cough-sputtering the entire time,
reminding me it's time for the winter tune-up,
an auto pampering, next, at the Jiffy-Lube,
while I poof down quilts at the launderette.


I miss the city, at times,
will not deny it now, or ever,
the heated sidewalks, dressed in style.
the accident and design scheme
which brought me to this rural locale,
not completely calming the metro-ache,
teased by the city on the lakefront,
I decide to drive the finely tuned car
beyond kettles, kames and fallen barns
to a place where java is twice the price,
just because they call it java
and rural land is transformed
to the architecture of clock towers, stadiums
and tree-line walkways with leash laws. 


Odd-out days like this, I eat up the backroads
to get to the frontage roads and on-ramps
to a place where I can leap tall buildings,
bounding into restaurants with "real" seafood
or venues with live music, not Memorex,
conversations and poetry, or conversations
that sound like poetry,
depending on the fine-ness of the whine,
these rare escapes with good cause
refueling my soul, bolstering me
for what I've left behind,
the objects that appear oddly closer,
though in my rearview mirror;
escapes are only temporary.


Upon my return,
the water will have surely softened,
my absence giving way to  machine-time,
enough to pump and lurch and gurgle
stubborn well water through rock salt,
transforming the sharp edges
into something I can sorely use,
cascading waterfalls for tired bones,
the glad to be home kind,
unable to remember now
why I ran off in the first place,
when everything I have is here,
to hold and to hold stronger,
as Primo Levi once said,
"I live in my house as I live inside my skin."


These words hit me now,
in the warm spray as I adjust
bathroom hardware, from shower nozzle
to faucet flow, filling the tub,
sinking down, readying self
for the embrace of the water,
preparing for Calgon to take me away,
the still waters running deep,
calmer, beneath my house, knowing there is
no "ample, more sturdy picturesque skin,"
my world I would not miss for a world away;
"unnatural to exchange them for mine,"
lucky I am, ever the country mouse
who never stays too long in the city.


...gotta love Primo Levi, and gotta love Andrew Weyeth ... painting, above, "Around The Corner"




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Reviewed by Randall Barfield 9/4/2006
Your talent is great just as is your title and rhythm. It's a pleasure to see your new postings. Luck.
Reviewed by K Quills 8/7/2006
Vivid capture of time & place & sentiment, thank you for sharing this. Kathy.
Reviewed by Taylor Ryan 7/17/2006
Extraordinary have 'taken me away' and back to a slower time and a place I miss..
Reviewed by Sandie Angel 7/17/2006
Unlike the city, the country life has a slower pace and is more relaxing; so time-wise seems to be more for us to enjoy life.

Wonderful write!

Sandie May Angel a.k.a. Sandie Angel :o)
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