Her name was Elizabeth, but it could have been anything. She could have had the name of your sister, your mother; she could have had your very own name. The sun had not quite risen; the waves were mostly still, and I stood at the end, or maybe the beginning of a path that can be followed on foot some ... Read More »
The first time my mother was diagnosed with cancer I was ten years old. I don’t remember the way she told me, but I do remember the way my entire world changed.
When you’re a little girl living alone with your mom and your mom gets cancer, you stop being a little girl. You stop watching the calendar ... Read More »
A judge in Montana, in handing down a meager 30 day sentence to a teacher who raped a 14 year old student who later committed suicide, saying the victim “seemed older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher. I do not have a daughter. I am not a mother. I ... Read More »
In LA, there are over 35,000 homeless youth enrolled in school. Imagine going to school without a shower because you don’t have one; waking in an unfamiliar place, a car, on the street, in a shelter or, if you’re lucky, in one of an endless trail of foster homes. Imagine no school at all.
Imagine none of it’s your fault.... Read More »
The leaves don’t change in Los Angeles. At least, the ones outside my window don’t. In three years they haven’t changed. Not once. The trees bear fruit, most of it falling to the ground—the gardeners have to move it before they can cut the grass. On Wednesdays, I try to wake before they arrive, the gardeners—their mowers and radio-static mariachi. ... Read More »
When I woke this morning, I heard my neighbor cigarette coughing as she came up the stairs. I was still sleepy-eyed, throwing my hair up, putting on the sweater I call my grown up shell and sitting down to write. It was four o’clock in the morning.
I love this time of day. When the world is quiet, we make ... Read More »
You want to tell her about it again, the day you fell in love with her in spring.
You don’t know why but you think that if you tell her about it, her bones might not feel so close to her skin; that she might not shiver when she closes her eyes.
You ask her to open them.
Why, she ... Read More »
“Yes, there is always tomorrow.” Last night, in the middle of the night between fits of sleep never allowing dreams, those were the last words I said to someone. What I wanted to say was “Yes, there is most always tomorrow.”
Tomorrow doesn’t always come.
When I was a child, and the boys were chasing kids around, tripping each other, ... Read More »
You wouldn’t have even noticed her.
She sat alone at a table for two in the center of a sunlit café, and yet, you would not have taken notice, for even a moment, that she was there. She smiled softly to herself.The smile of innocence one sees on the faces of children when they play and on women in ... Read More »
Morning has gone leaving sunshine warmed windows in its wake.
Chimes blow, making music he wishes he knew the words to.
Her eyes are tired. She says it sounds like a symphony, the music of the wind. Maybe that is why she keeps sleeping. The symphony makes her sleep, she says.
He tells her the wind has been blowing for ... Read More »
I no longer recall when he arrived, though, even had you asked me the first day I saw him, I may have told you he had always been here. I may have thought I had always heard his voice in the morning, just before the birds, talking to me about G-d and the way that there isn’t enough love in ... Read More »
After seven mornings, my body seems to have mostly acclimated itself to the hour in Georgia, despite my best efforts. In Los Angeles, I wake around six o’clock. Every morning. No matter what. There are no shades on my windows. I live on the second floor and since there are no apartments directly across the way, I don’t think about ... Read More »
Today I received an email from my father. He is not sure how much longer his mother has to live. My grandmother is dying. Not really the sort of thing most families share via email but that’s how we do things. My father wasn’t actually writing to make an announcement but to ask for help.
My grandmother lives alone ... Read More »
“Have you ever been in love”?
A strange question to ask a stranger.
“Not for a long time” she told him.
He asked her why. Asked if this, not loving, had been her choice.
For a moment, she wanted to tell him yes. But his eyes asked for truth and she had outgrown her need for lies.
Five years ago tonight, I cried myself to sleep knowing that the decision I made earlier in the day meant giving up the thing I loved more than anything else. I would cry myself to sleep every night for the next few months, not understanding how I was going to live my life or what would become of me, just ... Read More »
She sits, posed in a moment that never moves. Eyes still, red hair soft, one fallen strand touching her nose like an eskimo kiss from god or lover she has never met.
She is silent.
Eyes tangle with second hands chasing minutes. Watching time move, increments synchronized with the beat of her heart in hollows of her chest. Breathing between ... Read More »
When I was a little girl, I was sleeping over at my best friend’s house. In the middle of the night, I woke and walked, pyjamaed and sleepy-eyed down the hallway, following some distant sound that I heard, some song. It was dark and I felt my way along the hallway, turning left into the kitchen where the moonlight made ... Read More »
She watches the moon rise, sun sitting in the back of her throat.
Feet one next to the other, crossed at the ankles. Her dress, blue flower summertime covering knees like hands cover mouths whispering secrets.
The wind blows and she watches you move.
Feet carry you back and forth, rhythmic step across concrete right angled against stucco.
Waves crash ... Read More »
Morning has gone leaving sunshine warmed windows in its wake.
Chimes blow, making music you wish you knew the words to. Her eyes are tired and she says it sounds like a symphony, the music of the wind. Maybe that is why she keeps sleeping. The symphony makes her sleep, she says.
You tell her the wind has been blowing ... Read More »
The first time I ever made a gratitude list, I truly didn’t think I had anything to be grateful for. My life was falling apart. I had destroyed everything that meant anything to me and pushed everyone so far away that I had few people left to reach out to.
Something about the distance ... Read More »
My father and I sat talking for some hours. Hours passed quickly, the way years had.
I looked down at my hands and I remembered hers. They were always clasped, or her fingers were tapping…the sound of her fingernails was like music. I would tell her that her fingers looked like ballerinas. She would tell me ... Read More »
5:28am in Los Angeles. She sleeps quietly in the arms of her lover. Her breath passes across his chest, moves over the landscape of his body like warm breezes over still waters.
His breath is steady, it is even. It is strong, like him. Her head ascends, descends. Closer to the sky and then to the ground as ... Read More »
[originally published in Poetix. 11/08 http://poetix.net/greathouse_essay.htm]
I wrote my first book when I was six years old. It was published in a
limited edition of 1 on a small press run out of my playroom, between
Barbie’s motor home and my padded orange toy box. Today, my great authorial debut, Jean Likes Green, lives buried somewhere in my father’s house. ... Read More »