Mari's Wildwood

A Rabbit Hole-and-a-Half

Author: hummar20 (page 1 of 2)

Healthy Habits

From 4-4:30 I re-laced some shoes I adopted from a friend. Hardly any wear and just my size. They were the same color as the sky. It threatened rain, but with about the same authority of scoldings given by a substitute teacher fifteen minutes prior to the final bell. “Meh,” I shrugged bringing my bike down from its hook and slinging my pack over my shoulder. Steamboat Island was not far, but there was a lack of signs along the road. I came to a blue sign with white letters “STEERE” by some mailboxes and pulled over for a drink. My legs were shaking, I continued. The zenith of a bluff filled with pines and hemlocks. Gated communities and mansions. A dip that peeled back my lips and eyelids, then the road became a causeway over a marsh of reeds. Alders still bare but for yellow-green buds and last year’s cones. Up and down, gust of wind, lurch of force. Beat-up mobile homes and broken chairs slumped under moss. Gilded lampposts and wrought iron. Still no signal on my phone for a map. Then there was that same sign again. There was the same man, still weed-whacking his yard. My water was much lower this time, and I was wearing one less layer. I checked the time, and it had been 45 minutes, give or take a few. I laughed the slightly off-kilter “Huuhuhuhuuuh” that one does when they become tired and stupid. I twisted my handlebars 180 degrees, creaking along at a snail’s pace to a path lined with daffodils, finally finding the grocery store lot with my out-of-shape muscles visibly vibrating. I bought Oreos, Double Stuffed of course, (and also dinner). At home I collapsed on the bed, shriveled by the effort of what turned out to be 25 miles, asleep by 9:45.


White paper cups, red label, waxy surface

One pump, two pumps, three bubbles

Ethiopia, Brazil, Sumatra

Medium roast, French roast, hazelnut

Bean salad, risotto with asparagus, lemon cookies

Little fork, little spoon, “Please use tongs”

“How are you?” “Doing anything fun this weekend? “You changed your hair!”

Not every day, but enough times per week, evenings mostly

Cup gripped in my teeth, fumbling for my list, empty basket

Distracted again, swallow, locate a trash can

Hunting and gathering, moving like a shark, done.

Pet Names/Peeves

We were just finishing dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant on Friday night. Another couple walked in and were seated a table over from us. The couple consisted of a woman in a necklace and sweater set with deliberately groomed hair who looked to be in her 40s, and a man in cargo shorts with a greasy bun who looked at least 60. His face was sun-damaged, like two murky blue eyes peering out of the palm of an old catcher’s mitt. The man was seated facing opposite me, the woman back to back with my boyfriend. The same waitress who had helped us came to deliver them some menus and ice water. Before she could ask, “Anything to drink?” too loudly he blurted, “Do you guys serve alcohol here?” She pointed him to the beer and wine leaflet perched against the wall at the end of their table. “Thanks dear,” he said, proceeding to go back to talking at his dinner companion about something, using what resembled political words.


“I’ll be back in a minute, I’m just gonna run to the restroom,” said my boyfriend getting up. I picked up my knitting to pass the time until the check’s arrival. I wound the green cotton yarn around my left ring finger to hold the tension and lost myself in counting, so close to being finished with the back piece of the sweater I was making.

“Sweetheart!” A male voice boomed. “Hey, sweetheart!” Again. And again. And again. It was clear to whom the voice belonged. It was plausible he was talking to his dinner mate, or maybe the waitress. I kept knitting, watching the green loops climb over one another in little V shapes. “Sweetheart! Miss! MISS!” I finally angled my eyes upwards without tilting my head. Guess who. Beady blue eyes from sunken sockets.

“That thing you’re doing! Great! With the yarn?” he said to most of the restaurant.

“Knitting?” I offered.

“Yeah! Reminds me of my grandmother! She could never sit still, nervous, had to have something in her hands. She was always knitting, or crocheting or whatever. I never seen anybody do that in a long time! What you’re doing. It’s like a lost art!”

“Oh…ok,” I said. It didn’t seem like it warranted a “thank-you” exactly, as there was not a compliment but a series of observable statements.

“Yeah, I just wanted to say that! Good for you, keep up the good work, babe!”


In the next ten minutes that passed, my boyfriend returned and our check came. He downed the last two sips of his chai and I finished the last row of my piece. “Let’s go.” I brushed past the tables, stopping to once again smile and thank the servers. To the cool evening in the parking lot I growled with almost an aneurism-provoking force. I ranted like I was speaking in tongues the whole way home, riding the upper meniscus of the legal speed limit most of the way. Maybe it he’s just a good guy, or maybe it was due to the weed chocolate he ate before the restaurant, but my boyfriend never told me to calm down, to not get upset, that I’m “overreacting,” that the man “didn’t mean it like that.” Any example of one man defending the behavior of another. Instead I saw his face pinken as he shook his head side to side. “I bet he wouldn’t have said that to me if I was knitting.” I squeezed his arm, common code for “I love you/thanks for understanding.”

Left and Right

She hands me two plastic capsules. One per hand. They are a squashed almond-shape, wider than they are long, slightly flat, about the size of a baby’s palm. Charcoal gray but see-through. A textured arrow on each, directing the user to the trapdoor where, I assume, the batteries go. Each dangles from a separate cord, gradually uniting in a Y-shape. It connects to a box with dials and buttons she places on top of the clipboard and yellow legal pad she’s holding. Amber lights flash from LEDs inside the capsules as I hold them. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. “How does this feel?” she asks me. I see the lights. What is to be felt? Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Like silent turn signals, but I am not being directed anywhere physical. The destination is her office, on the couch upholstered in chenille printed with leaves that are slightly raised. Autumnal golds, blues and grays. Pleasing to anyone. Brown chair. Beanie Babies stacked in the windowsill, and beyond are the boats yawing in the marina punctuated with raindrops. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Everything begins to sync in rhythm.


Power Loop by Chloe Marina, “The stomach that I fight with to this day.”


Hyper vigilance is a bitch. A gut instinct that reacts to everything, or nothing. It makes enemies out of friends, because one friend turned out to be an enemy, a bad example.

Are you scanning with binoculars from a silent lighthouse, or pointing a rifle from a siren-blaring guard tower?

You fight yourself again. Even hair is triggered to run.

If a tower falls but no one is around to hear it because you wouldn’t let them, does it make a sound?

It’s hard to fight when you can’t find your arms. It’s hard to flee when you can’t find your legs.

But see, you can always find the ground, be it sense of smell or magnetic fields, like salmon finding their way home. Maybe it’s just gravity, but there is always a place to lie down and wait for it to pass.


Questions by Bridgette, “Where is the violence living in you?”

To get through the day, we make things up.

Where is the line between lying and speculating?

We are sure we aren’t “that kind” of person.

We treat everyone equally.

We care about everyone.

“Sorry, I don’t carry change” we say or

“Sorry, I’m late for somewhere.”

We are empathetic,  we “know just how you feel”.

“I would have given him a piece of my mind” or

“I would have fought back” we love to kid ourselves.

Nothing terrible will ever happen to us.

We will never be victimized.

We love love love apologies

“I’m sorry for hurting your feelings, but to be fair–”

“I’m sorry you’re suffering, but at least–”

Others are our world

“You don’t look fat” we tell them

“I’d run into a burning building for you”

“I would never hurt you”

“I’ll love you no matter what.”

I wonder how many times we’ve said these things

And wanted to mean them,

Not because we’re deceptive or sneaky, but

Because we needed to at the time.




A Year and A Day

As Heartbeat As If by Teresa “The kind of sharing a soda can at the end of the driveway, or even just sitting close enough not to touch but to feel another skin”


The other side of a year can be alarming, if you realize it doesn’t come with significant new understanding.

It’s easier to remember Before. To drag our feet in the wood chips and get off the swing,

Run back to our mothers and friends.

Before, there were always tangible markers of grade levels and milestones

Handed to us like Science Fair Participation ribbons,

“Everyone’s a winner!”

I think I know why I found such comfort in the fact my clothes didn’t grow with me.

I didn’t recognize it as Age.

It’s that one, pesky little loop of sweater caught in the swing chain,

Unexpectedly choking us backwards.

It makes dismount impossible without taking off the garment.

It requires untangling,

Nonchalantly flipping off the giggling friends while chuckling right along,

“Shut up, you guys!”

Sometimes it’s easier to leave it.

At some point Time seems to move on a different track, spasming and lurching irregularly,

Pain pinched into the years of saying


No matter who, or what is leaving.

But it’s relieving to stop expecting Time to do the work,

That simply being in the Future will cure us of immaturity,

That After will be better because it just has to be.

How could it not?

Sometimes more happens by the other side of a day, if you realize it doesn’t have to bring anything at all.

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