A weekend gone too fast, of his parents and good food and wonderful stories and tall tales and laughter while we listened to old records. We all enjoyed the too-brief visit. Yesterday they travelled home again, and S & I spent time we have not had together. I have missed him. It was a delightful day, full of dancing and love and looks and smiles, full of books and naps and work in the garden in between rain showers. We harvested the new growth from our tea camellia, and roasted the small green leaves, brewed cups, and drank the delicate sencha green tea.

When the thorns are too soft to poke, new fleshy foliage just unfurled, when the ground is damp and gives beneath my feet in between April showers we picked blackberry leaves. Yesterday was an unexpected, a quiet and a bluster, we had some time warm sun and then some time fast cold gusty wind, and then torrential rain and hail. The big cumulo-nimbus built their sharp silver anvil shapes in the soft pale hazy blue and scudded pregnant and dark-bellied over the valley.

While the thorns are not hard enough to poke, yet, but still may snag and draw beads of blood, finger-pricks and caution, long vines tangling, we harvested berry leaves. The tender shoots, small ruffles an array of colors, pink, crimson, green, pale yellow, I tasted some just sprouted and there it was, the tang and berry taste of soon-comes-summer. We finger pruned the leaves of black berries, raspberries, strawberries, the logan and goose and blue berries, mixed them and roasted them in the oven and stored them for later tea times.

When the wind picked up her skirts and shook her hair at us and we felt the first droplets come flying sideways despite the sun, we headed back indoors with our colanders full of berry leaves. We ate artichokes and a baguette for lunch, and drank a bottle of red wine, and took a nap. I would spend all my days walking through wet grass while sunshine warmed the earth, steam rising from tree branches and every living thing awakening after winter's slumber, the light of the sky soft and sweet. I would spend all days beside him, with fingertips brushing the cool damp dark soil, watching the newly sprung plants reach for the sunlight, little seedlings that will grow big before fall. They will grow big and flower and set fruit. The world is vibrating with real energy, not falsely excited, uncontainable, uncontrollable; the plants care nothing for politics or economics or the petty secondary absorption of the cosmopolitan world. Consider the lilies of the field. I would live in the springtime always.


History started with yesterday, it walks marches stumbles runs backwards, the dreams of the past. Foucault pendulum oscillation on a vertical plane drawing a line with its steady swing, measuring the earth's rotation, an imagined scythe on the end sweeping slicing through time as it is measured by the earth's rotation. It cuts both ways. Gravity and inertia, bodies in motion and at rest.

He said he saw a whale in the deep water behind the waves as he flew in the little airplane, and I wonder what does behind the waves mean to the whale. Or is theirs a world without prepositions?

The hail came hard straight down from the low-bellied clouds full of thunder, a torrent of ice, I watched it pound and bounce and scatter in arcs after hitting the thick waxy green magnolia leaves. It drooped the laden lilacs, nodding their frilly flower heads to the ground paying homage to the earth.

The hail fell like certainty. Like certainty of death and taxes. With a bounce, and then it melts.

Dance class last night was a hard work delight, a long set, much sweat. The ladies watched me and followed and then they forget to watch, and this is the best part, when we work on a move for long enough that they stop looking at me and start looking at their own reflections. Swinging their own lines, finding their own balance and motion. I let them enjoy their reveries, and also work them hard, a solid two hours of isolations and drills and stepwork and spins, hip-intensive, good posture necessary, do not succumb to gravity.

We always have a good time, much laughter, and many jokes about what looks pretty and what does not look pretty. It is about structure and shapes. I love seeing them meet and talk, and communicate and ask help from me and one another. This class, so many ladies, has a definite sense of community. It pleases me.

After class with my gothy girly Shell, my long-time duet partner who I met in my very first dance class years ago, walking out of the dance studio, her in her all black with black hair piled rough on her head and with bare belly, silver jewelry and noisy chiming coins draped around her hips, long black skirt, and she closed her long black coat around her but not before she stunned an elderly gentleman passer-by into gibbering muteness.

She with her high cheekbones and green eyes stood there in the dusk, on the phone with her young son, she a lovely wild faerie stepped out of an hallucination. He looked at she and then at the dance studio's dark glass door and said with wonder, "Wha? uh, what?"
I raised my eyebrows at him, and said, "We just finished dance class."
He nodded and stammered, but no embarrassment. He asked, "What kind of dancing would... ah... she do?"
So I smiled and said, "Middle Eastern dance."
"Oh," said he, some mixture of relief and curiosity.
"Isn't she pretty?" I asked.
He smiled and said, "Yes," and then we went our separate directions. I walked her to her car and collected hugs and then she was gone, Wonder Woman and a pair of feathery handcuffs swinging from her rear view mirror.

Swing on, you bodies in motion.


A past-midnight call, I was on my way to bed the phone rang and what? area code what? number, then dead air. That sense of dread came creeping, a curious worry, a why, a who, so star sixty-nine baby, you rang? Calling from Guam? I didn't even ask what time is it there, seven, eight, nine? Looking for a highschool sweetheart with no notice of the time. Yes the same name but no not the same, although I might not tell you true if it were and I know that's not very nice. Apologies for the disturbance? accepted. The air was chilled and I'm glad I didn't let it go caller unknown. What sense of desperation, an edge in the voice, how many other numbers?

The house is so quiet without him, he's gone 500 miles he's been gone 100 hours I can hear the wind brush against the roof I can hear the windchimes I can hear the creak and sigh of the house settling for the night. The little grey feral cat we nicknamed Griswald who comes to eat at our back door and sleeps in our woodshed is lame in a front leg. He hobbled away gimpy with his swollen leg, a blend of fear and distrust in his bright green eyes when I spoke softly to him. I put a blanket on the floor of the woodshed. It was a dark wet night.

The house is quiet and my heart is not, his absence distracts me, like a part of my self has wandered away. How many times did I intend to mention something? How many ideas did I want to share? The house is very quiet, I miss the hum of him, the electric crack and bustle, his bootheels on the floorboards. I miss the looks and smiles, the hands and conversations, the sound of his life and breath the presence of his width and breadth. He returns on Wednesday. When he left I did fine until he got in line at the air terminal, then I was beset with stupid little hiccoughs and couldn't see through silly tears. They blended with the rain as I walked back to the car. Phone calls are a poor compensation for walking side by side.

I enjoy solitude, and seek it often, but the house is too quiet without him.


Hear the hollow, the absence of sound? Sometimes you can't hear it until the noise stops and sometimes the noise never stops. And sometimes your thoughts are too loud you don't recognize the silence when the world is hushed.

Years ago one wet winter we lived in a shotgun shack with crooked doorways, a rice field on one side and a corn field on the other, down below the levee of the Sacramento River and within sight of Sacramento's skyscrapers. When the wind blew from the south we could hear the traffic at the monolithic crossroads, Interstate 5 and Interstate 80. This was years ago, before 20,000 new homes were built ticky tacky on the floodplains and let's pray the old levees hold the big river another 40 years.

We lived alongside a slough, let me tell you about mosquitoes and blackberries and spiders and skunks, and we saw thousands of migratory birds. Songbirds, water birds, upland birds, once I made a list of all the types of birds we identified and it covered a page and a half, typed. I loved the hawks, the mag-pies, and the bitterns with their strange calls.

I recall the little black and white phoebe, his face stuffed with a big hairy moth, perched atop the fence screeching a triumphant "phee-BE!"

We had a barn swallow family under the eaves of the front porch, and we would watch them sweep the yard on their long blue wings, gold bellies flashing in the dusk. They would hold little swallow conversations in raspy chirping voices and in the thick of evening we would sit and listen to their soft banter. They left when their baby fell out of the nest.

On one of our walks along the slough's dirt levee we surprised a gathering of white egrets, normally solitary creatures but we counted twenty of them in the cold fog, and they took slowly to the air with wide white wings beating hard and sounding prehistoric with deep calls, "Graaaak, graaaaaak!"

We had five big elm trees encircling the puny little house. Elms are uncommon, most either succumbed to the Dutch elm disease or were cut down in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease. They are lovely trees, and in winter without their leaves their shapes are revealed like champagne flutes, a graceful upswept reach to the sky, and long thin branches cascading back down. Oh little blackbirds, how uncountable, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds came flocking to the elms.

It was an early morning and damp cold, and we had only a small radiator heater in the middle of the room. He had left me with off-to-work coffee-flavored kisses, and I was alone in bed writing, waiting for the fog to burn off and the sun to warm the house. I did not hear them until they flew away, I did not recognize their small cacophanous continuous hundreds of "cheeeep-chereeep" bird conversations, but I heard the big rush when they all beat their wings and lifted away in a black cloud, off across the fields. And then there was silence. I could hear only silence. Out of curiosity I went outside and the whole world felt hushed, not simply muffled by the fog but hushed, silent, still.

Sometimes it takes the absence of noise to hear it.


Yesterday was a dreadful day, a dead robin day, a day of wakes and mourning and sorrow. It stormed quietly, no wind, just long sheets of rain mixed with hail mixed with the very last of the white cherry blossoms knocked from the branches, spent and brown around their edges. The petals on the wet ground had fallen with grace and now diminished, adhered to the black road and slick pavement in transparent decay.

Yesterday three light bulbs burned out in our home and we spent the evening quietly, walking softly, eggshells and uneasiness, something unsettled in the world. Our dinner with a friend was cancelled for a wake he had to attend, and a young local boy ran into the waiting arms of death in the disguise of a truck. It felt like earthquake weather, it felt like the mountain thunderstorms that cause wildfires. Yesterday felt like standing next to railroad tracks while a long laden train rolled and squeezed and clattered and roared past on anywhere tracks, time counted in the heavy steel wheels crushing and gliding, the ground vibrating and the train engine's whistle far gone in the distance.

Yesterday morning in the rain, with white tree flower petals plastered to the black wet street and chunks of icy hail dropping and bouncing, the white a high contrast against the slick pavement, there perched a spring robin on the side of the road. The bird's dapper grey overcoat was dark with rain water and the bright crimson breast caught my attention, as did the lilted tilt of the bird's head. It was looking at a small bundle of feathery fluff, grey and crimson, in the middle of the road.

It is a dead robin day. That is the thought I had, and it brought me a sense of impending dread.

I think somewhere I read that robins, like many other migratory birds, mate for life, or at least for multiple breeding seasons. Perhaps they would mate for life except that life often ends untimely.

People, like wolves, like swans, mate for life out of necessity for survival. Survival of the species depends on reproduction, and it is truly a great tragedy when a life ends only three hours past birth. A baby died yesterday morning.

Such an unforseen, unexpected, unhappy death shocks those who watched a healthy baby born only two weeks prematurely into the world. They all had the rush of hope in their hearts, small secret heart wishes, smiling hopes that all their dreams and desires for the future might become manifest. Parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles waited and expected to see the change of growth, and wanted to watch the child grow, and maybe even to see a piece of themselves in the child's face or mannerisms. Nine months of hoping, preparing, considering, wishing, and wanting. Three hours of life. Three short hours. They wished for the child to develop strength and intelligence and kindness and virtue and sensibility and learn about love. They wanted the whole world for this baby who was born and then died with its tie to the womb still attached. It is a pitiable, unhappy and sorrowful thing, this loss of life too soon, too soon.

The death came quiet and internal when the lungs and heart simply stopped their pulsating rhythm of life. The lungs are one of the last things to develop in an unborn baby. Two weeks does not seem like a long time, but it is the incubation time for a robin, the time between laying and hatching of those bright blue eggs. It is also the amount of time between robin chicks hatching and learning to fly from the nest, and it is the difference between healthy baby lungs that can breathe, and the end of a dream.

The robins fly over the mountains each year. There lies a small feathery body on the side of the road, and soon its mate will leave, but testament to the importance of even the simplest life has been given by the surviving bird's vigil. The loss is felt; the loss of the baby is felt. The setting of the sun was somber and the sky turned a bruised purple with red veins streaked on clouds. Yesterday was an ill-fated day.


On the floor in my office this morning I found a scrap of some paper packaging with a blue background and white lettering that says Ham and Cheese. I have no knowledge of this. It is not something with which I have any association. How it came to the floor of my office is a mystery, since I have not had anything packaged with a label that says Ham and Cheese in a week, a month, a year. This is a foreign body, an intrusion, a mystery. Such things end up decaying over a period of a hundred years in some garbage dump. I feel sorry for this little scrap. It's not exactly a baby found in the reed along a riverbank, but it is truly an orphan, of unknown origin, and now it is destined for obscurity. Or, the janitor has been eating microwave dinners at my desk.
It's raining outside and my black umbrella is hanging like a bat in the corner, and I wonder why the word haiku always makes me think of the rain and cherry blossoms.

This week starts a new class session, and I'm now teaching two classes, the Saturday monrning beginning bellydance and a Thursday night beginning level 2 class. For the level 2, I think I need to review the basic isolation moves (maya, taqsim, camel, hip circles, horizontal 8s) that I teach in the beginning class, and then add to them, with level changes and traveling steps etc. Last night was the first class, and three of the students had expected the previous teacher to still be there, but they hid their disappointment, and by the end they seemed to truly enjoy the class. I saw smiles on everyone's faces by the time we left. I also asked if there were things the previous instructor did that they really enjoyed doing, and the two things mentioned will be easy enough to incorporate into the lessons. After class, S & I went out for dinner in celebration that he was accepted to the master's program in historic preservation at the U of O. He starts in the fall.

I've been busy and a dancing fool lately. My parents came for a whole week and it was such a whirlwind of activity I don't feel like I saw them enough. I know S, who was home all day for three days with them, doesn't share the sentiment, but he's wonderfully tolerant and does genuinely like his in-laws (although the morning they left, he revelled in the quietness of the house and the absence of busy-ness, along with my cat, who tends to hide while the parents visit).

My parents were able to see me perform, finally, and my new costume has been broken-in. It's a dark burgundy two-piece cabaret-style slinky thing encrusted with white and black jewels and black sequins and beads. It is heavy and adds a refined element of elegance. It exaggerates my shape, and fits like a glove, and I do mean tight in all the right places. With Mom's last-minute help I fixed the top and the little gauntlet gloves. I've done two big shows this past week, both of them were standing-room only, with wonderful crowds. The show on Saturday I was the evening's featured performer in a line-up of five other dancers. The whole show was amazing. I got compliments on my "mean shimmy" from two other dancers I respect very much. I even pulled off my first drum solo, which is not easy because the drummer is, um, well, shall I be tactful and say "unpredictable"? But I did it and it worked great! Boom boom! Hooray! I liked it a lot. I also liked it that Shell & I nailed our duet-- it was a lot of fun & ended too fast-- we finished, and ran away to the little dressing room, and people started stomping and pounding on the tables. They yelled and whistled and called us back out for an encore, so we went out & worked our way around the tables. That is FUN! I was nervous about dancing around the tables at first but people really dig it when dancers pay attention to them. I'm so glad my folks finally got a chance to see me dance-- it made a difference to me to have them there.

Wednesday I danced with a different band in a different venue. There were a lot of people that came right at 9 o'clock, when the band started playing. My folks & S & I got there early & found a table up front, & Shell & I swept the cement floor in front of the stage (oops-- no rug! But that's okay, I'm always afraid of catching my foot on the edge. The tablah player said forgetting the rug was a hazard of not having a dancer in the band. Neither R, the other dancer, nor I did any floorwork, so it was no big deal at all). And while I don't mind the dim lights, the complaint a few people had was the lighting in the place-- there's no light on the dancer, & since only the people right up front have a full-body view, it's hard to see. I asked them to turn on the disco ball, yeah baby.

I am very happy with my performance; the traditional song Zeina was a crowd-pleaser. The slow Traveling song was curious... I went into it resigning myself to lose the crowd's attention, so I did some veil work halfway through, but I think I could have gone without the veil. I didn't lose their attention, and I surprised myself. Wow what a change in the crowd's emotion I could feel; Zeina makes people smile and clap, and Traveling makes them sit still and just watch. While I was dancing I thought I had lost their focus, but no, all eyes were still on me. I looked at the sea of faces and their souls were in their eyes, very reflective, lost in thoughts and listening to the somber, sensual rhythm of the oud. It took me a minute to realize, and I felt doubt until I realized, that people weren't smiling simply because it's not a smiley kind of song, and it's okay they weren't smiling because they truly enjoyed the fluidity and graceful slowness of it, and they weren't bored, and only the people far in the back of the room at the bar were talking. I haven't ever danced with music like that except playing around at home-- I liked it a lot. The band played Firedance last, and I went once around the tables, back to the front, blew kisses, and ran away! Wheee! JJ helped me out of my sweaty costume-- we wrestled with the gauntlets, which were almost adhered to my skin from the sweat. She hugged me and then disappeared for the evening.

The place was crawling with friends I haven't seen in a while and lots of bachelors-- what a great crowd! Very respectful, and I heard many kind & thoughtful compliments. At the end of the night I had one fellow (well into his cups of beer) take my hand, call me lady, and tell me, "Your beautiful dancing transcends your soul," and then he kissed the back of my hand. He had scratchy whiskers. Momma gave me flowers, two dozen purple irises. I think I need to make a costume that purple color with gold. The best reward was from my S, who always knows how to look at me and shows his love for me in his eyes.

R had a fantastic performance, too. She threw her silk veil at me, which tickled me! She then did a neat little improv with an Algerian man and the crowd loved it. They shook the house, and he danced dressed in a black leather vest & big billowing heavy black pants and black boots, twirling tassels and a knife and doing great stomping rhythmic stepwork and shoulder-shimmies. They played a sweet coquettish little chase-me kind of game and took turns doing center-stage stuff. It was neat to see a man dance (and not wearing sequins and purple spandex leggings, if you know what I mean). R finished her set with that wonderful timing and clarity of motions that make her so much fun to watch. She was hot on the drum solo and then wowed us with a dramatic ending. I hope she does well in her dance work up in Canada-- she's a neat performer and I think she has so much potential.

My parents enjoyed it, and Dad commented on how there seem to be two types of performance (we saw two dancers on Saturday who he said were wonderful dancers, but to him it seemed more like bar-room dancing, and he didn't mean that as an insult at all, I think it was his way of saying they vamped it up and were overtly seductive in their motions). He thought my dancing, and R's on Wednesday night, all fall under his category of "artistic," and that made me happy. I think it is a beautiful art form, I don't intend to seduce anyone except S, and I don't want my father to feel uncomfortable watching me dance. It is always interesting hearing people's observations.

Tomorrow starts the new session for beginning students, and I hope to see some familiar faces plus some new smiles. I have butterflies of happy hope.