Breadcrumb #475


A maize maze of my own making,
I spend my days trying to decide
what my next day will be spent doing. 

Turn the corner,
it’s another year of wandering.  Turn
the next corner, and it’s a shrug. 

We just don’t know, Nobody
knows.  Where does the world fit now? 

Yes, we see you, they say, while
mispronouncing my every feature. 

There was a time I thought I knew.
At 20, I had all the answers.  The universe
was an easy series of yes/no, and complicated 

issues were reduced to a monochromatic
paint by number.  In the words of Jonah:

Oh, whale.   

Now, I’m just deciding the best
line of fit.  Not for prestige.  I just want
to do good work. 

A finger typing, a mouth speaking,
a lesson learned and teaching.  That’s okay. 

In the words of the 90s prophet:
We do what we do like we know
what we’re doing.

• • •

Breadcrumb #474


Once my husband remarked how the sky opens like a gift as you turn off Weaver onto Quaker Ridge. Now every time I make that turn I think of that. And about the farm that was once there, an actual working small farm with fields where a fancy market and Condos now stand. We'd go in summer in my mother's little red car to buy tomatoes still warm from the field, strawberries for shortcake, and corn that I never wanted to eat because sometimes while shucking I would find tiny little worms and my mother, a farm girl's daughter, would say nonsense and she'd just cut out the wormy parts and insist the corn was fine.  

Take a right off Quaker Ridge down a sloping curve past a wooded area where once I saw a wild turkey take flight into a stand of trees. I pulled the car over, something mythic and holy about the moment, cars hurtling past me rushing home as dusk began striping the sky in indigo, rose, and gold. Once my daughter was sad and I told her to get in the car and we drove random streets for nearly an hour as I played Nick Drake's song Pink Moon over and over because it was a pink moon that night. We saw a fox and I turned the car around to follow it up a dark road and we stopped when it stopped, staring at us from a tangle of bushes, rust colored fur, defiant eyes. We let it be and drove on under the pink moon.  

Once my daughter was sad and I told her to get in the car and we drove random streets for nearly an hour as I played Nick Drake’s song Pink Moon over and over because it was a pink moon that night.

Tonight the trees are black against a peach sky and I am rushing home because the dog does not like to be in the dark and no one remembered to leave a light on. Once my oldest son played in these woods using sticks for swords and their bikes for horses, coming back exhilarated, scraped and bruised, and deaf to my declaring someone would lose an eye. Once my daughter told me her friends claimed the woods were haunted, how none of them would go in them after dusk. I later joked to a friend that it must have been a rumor started by coyotes to keep the kids away.  

So many things have happened that my mind could turn to, keening times of despair, difficult times we stumbled through, fears about the unknown future, and yet driving I see the peach of the sky and think about my children and wild geese and pink moons, and how I am mostly like that, one who notices the color of the sky, and I am so grateful for it.

  Once by these woods I drive past, very late at night, I pulled my car over to the side and wrote a poem about magic, and hot soup, and keeping the wild things at bay. Even as I wrote it, I felt the press of something against the windows of my car and I kept glancing up, feeling both fearful and foolish. It's easy to believe in anything when you're sitting in a dark car by even darker woods writing a poem by the glow of a streetlight. So I wished peace to whatever might be there and kept on writing because words on paper are angels enough to guide a lost soul through whatever forest they might find themselves in, and lead them home.

• • •

Breadcrumb #473


When I saw her that day by the side of the road, I smelled lemons. It was the color of her hair that hung by her shoulders and held through the citrus freckles over the bridge of her nose. I'd gone walking that morning because of Laurel's baby whose sobs had been waking me before dawn all six weeks since she'd been born. We were crowded now in my mother's house. Mom, Laurel and her baby, mom's fat boyfriend Frank, our little brother Grady, and me and the dog. When you added my mother's awake-time hollering, Frank's night time snoring, and the baby's all-the-time wailing, it just seemed like too much.

That morning, I walked toward her standing there in the distance, all lemons and beautiful. Her name was Callie Anderson and she had been in my seventh period the year before. She was waiting for something. I tried to imagine what it was. It was still early, although the sun was completely out. The air had that rarified summer-morning smell where promises live until they get burned away by afternoon. I liked how long it took me to get to her. It gave me lots of time to wonder her up and down.

She smiled a few feet too soon. It took me off guard. She waved down by her waist with her wrist bent awkwardly. I nodded and she looked back passed me down the empty street. I still wasn't close enough to her to say her name. I glanced over my shoulder to see what was coming while Mal ran ahead to where she stood. I didn't see anything on the horizon except the dead gold of the hills and the pale blue of the sky. When I turned back around Callie was bent over the mutt, patting her over the eyes and making a sucking kissy-face with her lips. I stopped when I reached them.

"Hey Callie," I said.

  "Hi Adair," she answered. It sounded good to hear her call me that. No one ever called me Adair, except my mom or Laurel when they were about to yell at me. Everyone called me Sonny.

      I was quiet then while she finished up with Mal.

      "What's its name?" she asked.

      "Mal-o-mar Jackson," I answered.

       "Seems like too big a name for a not-so-big dog," she said, and I liked it that she said it.

       "We just call her Mal."

      "That's good. She seems like a Mal." Callie crossed her arms over her chest and looked down at the dog sitting, looking up at her.

       I watched her for a minute to see if she was going to say anything else. When she didn't, I cleared my throat.

       Then she shook out her hair like she'd been someplace else and said, "You going somewhere?"

       "Yes and no," I answered.

       She nodded and sort of shrugged.

       "You?" I asked.

       "Nah. Just waiting," she replied.

       "For what?"

       "Nothing," she said vaguely.

       "Want to walk for a bit?" I asked her.

       "Sure," she said. I saw her eyes scan the horizon again before she turned to me sighing and then smiling.

      "Unless you need to wait." I said.

     She shook her head. "Nah."

      We started to walk. We didn't say much. We went down by the docks at the lake and talked a little about fishing. Callie said that someone once caught a fish around here that no one had ever seen before. She said maybe around World War II and that they never caught another one. She said that there was a museum over in Dauberville where they had it mounted and everything. I told her we should go see it sometime and she smiled at me. It was the most whole-faced smile I'd ever seen, the kind that you can't help but smile back to.

      I liked her story about the fish and I told her. It made me look at the lake a little differently.

Callie said that someone once caught a fish around here that no one had ever seen before.

      We didn't say much else. Mostly we just walked and threw sticks and rocks into the water that Mal kept trying to catch.

      "I have to go home," Callie said when we got to the edge of the old Porter property where some kids went to smoke pot and others went to make out. I couldn't tell if she was afraid I was going to try to kiss her. It felt like the wrong time of day for kissing with so much sun everywhere.

      "Okay," I shrugged.

      She looked at me with squinted eyes. "You want to walk me?"

      I shook my head. "I think I'm gonna go for a swim," I told her.

      "Well," she said, "maybe I can come right back. I just have to run home for a minute."

      "Okay," I said.

      I watched her walk away. She took steps that seemed too close together, not very economical. I figured for a second it was because she probably knew I was watching her. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine seeing her without her knowing she was seen. Her body was long with steady legs, swaying her hips around. I'd seen her walking a million times. When I opened my eyes again she was almost to the warehouse where she'd turn out of my line of vision.

      I looked out over the water. The grass everywhere was white-lit and fiery. Mid-summer had already sucked all the green out. I sat down by the edge of the lake and tucked my knees up. I thought about what it would be like to kiss Callie Anderson.

     I'd never spoken much to Callie unless it was something about school. I liked her. She was mostly quiet but when she talked it was always full of ways to look at things I'd never thought about. Teachers often told her she was wrong and you could tell it really rattled her. Mrs. Dunlap even made her cry once when Callie said that the Robert Frost poem seemed more like it was about finding something bigger, even though it seemed like he meant everything was small. Mrs. Dunlap shook her head and said, "No, Callie. Look at it again."

      I always liked what she said. Usually I liked her answers better than the right ones.

      I laid down in the stiff grass and Mal came and licked my face. I half patted her while I pushed her away. She huffed down in a heap beside me and we stayed that way for a while.


It was the part of the day when the air has about sweat itself out and is ready to call it quits. I was standing up to leave when I heard her call, “Hey!”

     "Still feel like swimming?" she asked as she approached.

     "Sure," I said.

     I watched her pull her shirt over her head. She was wearing a red bikini top. I tried not to stare as she took off her pants, so I threw a stick for Mal.

     “Where’d you go?”

     “I had to pick up the kids for my stepmom,” she answered.

     "Oh," I said. "My parents split up too."

     "Let's not talk about that," Callie said flatly.

     "Okay," I agreed.

     She dove in. I followed. Callie splashed and kicked water at me. I chased her but she was slippery and kept getting away. She was laughing really hard and breathing deeply. I almost caught her but she ducked under and came up near shore. She walked out with her long limbs shining and her hair dripping water down her back.

     She turned to face me laughing.

     I wanted to watch her like that all night, dripping with lake water, laughing.

     "I want to dry off while there's still a little sun left," she called.

     I dove under and swam towards shore. I climbed out and laid down in the grass beside her. She was up on one elbow looking down at me.

     "Adair?" she said.


     "I like your name."

     "Why?" I asked.

     "It's strong."

     I raised my eyebrow. People usually said it sounded like a girl's name.

     "I mean I always thought your name was just `Sonny.' But then in fifth grade, Mr. Kinley only ever called you Adair, remember?"

     "That's right," I said. "I think I took a lot of heat for that."

     "Well, I thought it was beautiful, and my stepmom had a baby name book around because she was trying to have a baby, so I looked it up. It means oak tree by a ford. Did you know that?"

     I shook my head.

     "See? It's a really strong name."

     I was staring up at her and she was looking down at me. I raised myself up onto my elbows. Her stomach made a noise and she looked down at the ground. When she looked back up she bent forward and kissed me quickly then she pulled back a little.

     "Is it okay?" she whispered.

     I nodded and swallowed.

     She came in close again and pressed her mouth against mine. I felt her tongue lick the space between my lips. I closed them together then opened them again and felt around a little for her tongue. Her arms wrapped around my shoulders. I dropped back down to the ground pulling her with me. I listened to the quiet sounds of her kissing noises. She kissed all around my mouth and then back on my lips. I rolled her onto her towel and held her head in one hand and touched her face with my fingers. The sunset light was purple and orange and she looked like she was made out of glass.

     She pulled me in so that my head rested just below her chin. I closed my eyes and felt one of her hands tangle itself up in my hair while she rubbed my shoulder with the other.

     She said softly, "I was waiting for my mother this morning."

     I moved my hand to her hip and squeezed her there.

     "She left when I was ten."

     We didn't move and suddenly our position felt awkward. I tried to listen closely to what she was saying and not think about it.

     "We were in her car and she pulled over, right there on that street where you found me." Callie's voice was steady and slow. "She told me to get out. She just said, `Get out.' And I didn't even say 'Why,' I just did."

     I ran my hand down her thigh and let it rest on her knee.

     "We were on our way to the grocery store. I thought she'd be there so I walked all the way to town, but I couldn't find her. So I went back to the place where she'd dropped me off and then went back the next day and everyday that whole summer and waited, like she'd just dropped me off but that she'd come back to get me."

     I turned my head so that my lips could touch the skin by the bone below her neck.

     She said softly, "I heard somewhere once that if you lose something, you should go back to where you last saw it."

     I picked up my head to look at her.

     Callie shook her head. "What else can we talk about?"

     I replied, "My sister's baby cries all the time."

     Callie grinned looking straight into my eyes. "I think it's funny that we all come out crying but it takes us some time to learn how to laugh."

     I leaned down and kissed her softly. I kissed her cheeks and her eyes. She let her head fall back and I kissed her neck. The sun had almost completely set. I picked Callie up in my arms and pulled her onto my lap. She draped her arms around my neck and leaned her head on my shoulder. I breathed the lemons in her hair.

We sat like that until the stars came out.

• • •. • • •

Breadcrumb #472


My mother was at her neurologist
being tested for dementia
and Alzheimer’s.

This is a poem in broken fragments.

My mother keeps leaving Styrofoam cups
of water lying around the house. Everywhere
you can find these white truncated cones
of tiny oceans waiting for her lips.

At the neurologist, they asked her
to draw a clock. She drew a cross.
Yes mother, we are all crucified
by time. You are a poet in picture,
you are a poet in rhyme. You were
my first clock.

Now you tell time
I am ready to go.

You don’t.

But I try to find you anyway.
You have left a map. A trail
of breadcrumbs shaped like
Styrofoam cups. All over.

“Make sure they don’t stop the Lorazepam,”
my mother says to the neurologist.

Lorazepam is used for the treatment of anxiety
but she gets that from her psychiatrist
not her neurologist. It also causes memory loss
and impairs judgment and coordination.

An estuary is
where a river’s current
meets the sea’s tide.

It connects the river to the sea.

The neurologist asked her,
“What’s today’s date?”

She says, “November 23rd, 1948.”

That is my mother’s birthday.

No estuary here.

This is a poem in broken fragments.

Her right hand shakes
more than her left
to keep her body

She remembers how to spell her name
but has trouble writing it down.

It’s that damned clock again.

My mother reminds the neurologist
of the Lorazepam again. She can’t wait
to bring that tiny ocean to her lips

where the river’s current
meets the seas’ tide.

That is where she wants to be now
amongst all this Styrofoam
floating down the river
into a sea of everything

but her.

• • •

Breadcrumb #471


The woman pushes the door open with one hand, holding her bag in the other, and enters the salon. She walks over to the reception where she's greeted cheerfully by a young girl dressed in a white shirt and black skirt. The girl says with a well-rehearsed smile, ‘How can I help you, ma’am?’

‘I have an appointment at 6:30 pm for a haircut.’ She glances at her watch. The time is 6:27 pm. She's never late for an appointment. The girl at the reception checks her system and asks the woman to wait for two minutes. The woman's usual stylist is on leave today so she has opted for another stylist. She needs the haircut today. It can't wait till tomorrow. Because she has made up her mind. The woman likes the casual and friendly ambience of the salon. The huge glass walls are covered by the trees outside. Her usual stylist has come to know her hair too well. At times, she doesn't even have to say a word and he does what she needs. She hasn't changed her hairstyle in seven years.

Today is different. She wants a change. She needs a change.


She has prepared for this moment all night. She had her coffee in the morning like a silent prayer. After reading for an hour, she watered the plants, made eggs and laid the breakfast on the table with the coffee. They ate breakfast in silence, the woman and her husband, she read her book and he flipped through the news on his tablet.

While leaving for office, he said, ‘I will be late today. How does your day look like?’

‘I have to do some shopping for my trip’.

‘I envy you. I wish I could take a sabbatical too’. He failed to hide the cheerfulness in his tone.

‘I will be done by dinner time though. So let's go out for dinner today. I will see you only after two weeks then’. He planted a kiss on her lips.

It tasted bitter.

‘Hi, ma’am’, the stylist says, ‘Please come this way’.


Seven years ago, the woman’s father tried to kill himself. After he was discharged from the hospital, she left her home. She cut her hair short for the first time in years. So short that she didn’t have any to tuck behind her ears. The world was not so round as she imagined it to be.


‘You have beautiful hair’, the stylist says.

‘Thank you’.

‘So what do you have on your mind?’

‘I want them short’.

He shows her a few pictures on his phone and she picks up one.

‘Let’s go for a wash, ma’am’.

He gently massages her hair. He has soft hands. Unlike her husband’s. Her husband has firm hands with a strong grip. Does the other woman feel the same when he touches her? Does he hold the other woman the way he embraces her? Does he fuck the other woman the way he fucks her? She is surprised at her own thoughts. She chuckles at the word ‘fuck’. She likes this change. Since she found out about the other woman, she hasn’t made love to her husband. She has been fucked by him though. She has watched herself being fucked by him. This word is so detached and dirty - fuck fuck fuck.

‘Please get up, ma’am’, the stylist says.

He wraps a towel around her head and shows her the way.

Snip. The hair begins to slip down from her shoulders to the ground.


She comes home from work and is surprised to see her husband home early. He looks up from his laptop and tells her that he has to go out for dinner. She lays out his clothes while he takes a shower. A message appears on his phone. She walks out of the room and fixes a sandwich for herself. He leaves. She follows. He comes out of the building after 77 minutes. The woman thinks if she should confront him or ram her car into him. But this corner of the world is turning flat.


Her head feels light. Most of her hair is gone. Scattered on the floor around her.

Have they been acting with each other since the beginning or they didn’t realize when they turned into strangers?

Confrontation never helps. They would argue, her husband would feed her stories in the name of the truth, she would believe him because he’s nice. Without her notice, his guilt would seep into her and fill that void of lies.

She is sitting in the middle of a dark cloud. Her thick, luscious dark brown hair surrounding her on all the sides. The stylist grazes the hair on her neck with a razor.


‘Since you are born, we haven’t been happy. You are a curse’, her mother used to say when the woman was a young girl. She could never understand the reason but she felt guilty. She was impregnated with the guilt. She felt guilty for her father losing his job. She felt guilty for her being groped by her music teacher. She felt guilty for her father’s suicide attempt. She felt guilty for the world not being round.

Without her notice, his guilt would seep into her and fill that void of lies.

She remembers the first time she cut her hair. She felt light and liberated. She felt free. The guilt was in her hair she thought.

Her husband wanted her to grow her hair. He loved to pull on her hair during sex. Sometimes he slept with his face buried in her locks.  

Does he pull the other woman’s hair the same way? She is sure he does.


A gush of hot air makes her shut her eyes tight.

She opens her eyes and smiles at her reflection in the mirror.

‘What do you think about it, ma’am?’ the stylist says.



The woman wonders if her husband has come to this restaurant with the other woman. She waits for him at the table he has booked for them.

‘Oh’, her husband says as he pulls the chair and sits. ‘Why did you cut your hair so short?’

‘There were just too many patterns. My head was getting heavier.’

‘I don’t understand. Why didn’t you tell me about it in the morning?’

‘I didn’t feel the need to.’

‘How can you be so reckless?’

‘I am hungry.’

His attention is caught by his buzzing phone. He picks it up and reads the message. The woman sees the glimmer of a smile in his eyes. His world is round.

He keeps the phone aside and places the order. The message has his mood lifted again.

‘Is the hairlessness the part of the preparation for your trip?’

‘Yes. This is where it begins’, the woman says.

Her world is flat.

• • •. • • •