Robin Hawke


Love Letter
February 8, 2012, 2:43 PM
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I am missing, but not from your thoughts. Or yours from mine: I polish each of our dreams, impatient as ever to rub them into existence.

Today is one of those winter days when the sun can’t break the clouds. The sky glows like moonstone. It wouldn’t you know, if the sun went AWOL. Think of me; think of the sun. Clouds will scuttle off—break like eggshells; hot rays will wake bulbs in the ground; surrounding arms will banish those sad thoughts of yours. All I wait for is a strong wind to blow me home.

I keep, if missing, missing you.

Do not fold my jeans away. Do not fold my letters with tears.

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A Door in a Tree
January 23, 2012, 5:03 PM
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Folks expect a door in a tree to be tiny—designed for elf and sprite homebodies—and that humans must bend double to pass from world to world. This door was tall; all right, I crooked my neck to cross the threshold of my kingdom.  Inside, there was plenty of frothy Guinness, friends and darts. After a round of golf, I’d order a shandy for my daughter and we’d replay our game. Stolen hours became ritual, our weekly outing, celebrations of  birdies and fifteen foot sinkers. Then, tourists found our niche, sat on our worn benches, and shared pictures of a castle in Paris and a tower in England.

I looked for a piece of land with its own aged baobab. Found one in another country, up the coast. I apologized to it before we began the work of hollowing. It’s a regret I keep: The interior lacked that oxidized, caramel color; my girl flew abroad for a degree; my knees betrayed me on the links. The next time there was a whisper in my ear, it was a nurse with a cup of pills. Another pint, another round.

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Fear
January 16, 2012, 2:44 PM
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I’ve sifted through possibilities. Every day, they become less probable. If wishes were dragons, I’ve nurtured leather-hard eggs. One by one, the eggs rot. My desperation grows. I fuss. I turn. I inspect.

Mythical creatures will play in my back yard. They will be freakish creatures of sweet mercy, if only wishes come true.

 

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A Summer Day
December 14, 2011, 9:00 PM
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This was life: salt water, my friend Ayres, and a large, green bottle of champagne. We waded, me in Spanish army boots with a suit hiking up my cheeks, her in a loose mens’ shirt. Low country waves smacked our knees on a day buttery with sunshine.

Our spirits drifted higher on each retold joke. She had the laugh to go with her goddess locks, the ones that went below her hips. Ayres loved a bargain, in humor and other departments. Today’s bargain: fresh crab.

I caught our dinner by throwing rotting chicken thighs out twelve feet to play mind games with blue crab. If I fiddled, pulled sideways when the crabs backed off, acted as if my poultry was distressed—I could tow the malcontents up my green boots. They’d hang on, sure of grip. She’d bend, wet strands of hair tangling with the crabs she netted.

Over frothing mouths, we drank our bubbly. We threw the females onto sand and watched them skitter back to water. I’d run beside them, feeling the sun burn my nose. When I ran back up the beach, we polished the champagne.

That night we enjoyed spicy boil and sweet crab with brown beer. We picked at shells, saving the claws for last. Turning to the television for the tides, we charted our next day’s venture as hunters.

Tandem divorces pulled at our friendship. When the bill collectors insisted on their due, she stopped answering phone calls, mine among them. Two years later, Ayres died of cancer. I lacked the green for a flight to see her put in the ground. The bargain—our good company—terminated in brine water.

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Help
December 2, 2011, 5:39 PM
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A ten minute wait turned into thirty. Finally, a banking representative approached Robert and motioned him to take a seat.

“How may I help you?”

The representative cocked her head as if listening intently.

“I used to have a coupon book. To pay my mortgage. On occasion, I would come inside, here, and pay Mary, the teller, with a deposit slip. All I required was my account number.”

The representative began to smile. “Yes?”

“Now, I receive a monthly statement. It’s four pages long—and I’m no longer allowed to use my coupon book or a teller. I have to wait for this statement in the mail.”

“As you know, our bank was purchased and with the purchase came different methodologies.”

“My complaint is not merely the inconvenience…”

“No?”

Robert felt as if he were talking to an answering machine.  “This new system is wasteful—four page statements, instead of narrow coupon slips. Three of those pages relay redundant information. Not to mention the extra postage your bank is paying to deliver four sheets of paper every month.”

“I understand. I apologize for the inconvenience.”

Robert wondered, Why is she smiling? “I’m bringing to your attention that the bank’s new policies are a waste of money and natural resources. I would hope this information gets passed up the chain to your superior.”

“Yes, sir. Is that all, sir? Do have a good day.”

Robert picked up his jacket. The representative called the next customer.

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Questions
November 17, 2011, 5:08 PM
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All week, the judge visited the contestants with questions. But when they answered, the marbles in their mouths took hold. It was too easy to spout the inanity of constant thanks and appreciation. Mr. Montoya looked for a flash of intelligence, betrayed by a word out of place. For he had no doubt these women were intelligent, though they chose the easiest of words during interviews.

They strutted through the hotel lobby in high heels, aware of watching eyes. Mrs. Montoya rode up in the elevator with three of the long legged beauties. Looking at their feet, she realized she would never wear those heels. Though her center of gravity was much lower, she’d look like a house on stilts, sway like a fallen leaf. Little could be gained by asking the polite question “Where are you from?”—that she knew from reading the sash each one wore. Instead she asked, “Are you enjoying your visit?”

The contestants nodded, flashed teeth, and told her how beautiful her city was, how friendly the people were, how interesting the history; they described her home with the same words used for Athens, Taiwan, New York. Her question appeared too easy. Like her husband, she didn’t know them well enough to trip them into betraying imagination.

At the end of the competition, Mr. Montoya took his wife in his arms. Her insecurity beached itself on his shoulder. They moved together to the beats of salsa.

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Cutting Edge
November 9, 2011, 3:39 PM
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His lust for the good life was evident in the luxury that surrounded him. His possessions were of the finest quality: touched with gold, they were made by the finest craftsmen, their beauty durable and precious. But old age nipped at his thoughts like the dust that silted his stash. He fumed that the advisers, doctors and scientists of his time were so ignorant. And they had the nerve to bill him for premium services. They padded themselves with learning, but they knew nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

He should know; he traveled the thin path between life and death.

The spark that kept him conscious neither weakened nor strengthened. The only thing he ever wanted, the wish that consumed his thoughts, was to die. He’d leave these possessions behind—without second thoughts. If only he could free himself of the linen bandages that confined him. Stretch. Move. Then he could take off, leave this perfumed world for one without sickly smells.

Now that he was being shuttled from place to place, his interest in life picked up. He welcomed his visitors, the ones that stared in return. He cheered when new doctors examined him, studying his DNA. Even that grew old. All things grow old.

Young Amen-tut-ankh made his daily prayer to Amun-Ra. “Please my god, find a way to free my soul.”

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In the Wings
November 2, 2011, 9:29 PM
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“Places.” The stage manager watched the three dancers approach to take the stage. When they hit their marks, he cued the atmospheric lighting. The familiar, strange vibration sprang through the air. The music, a siren’s snare, began softly, slowly. He gave the signal to lift the curtains. The one on the end, Lisa, she danced for him. Every minute on the stage, her attention was honed to capture his. It was one of the riddles in the dark how she shifted his attention from his job to her performance. How she knew he watched one dancer, one dancer, her.

Every night, Lisa enchanted the man in the wings.

Martin conducted the action, always pretending to look at his notes; he knew this dance by heart. His cues fed off her movements; the other dancers incidental to the drama that filtered under his skin, Lisa rode through his blood faster than cancer. He imagined pulling her off stage, swinging her into his arms, kissing her neck. By the end of the dance, he was in love, her mad trophy. His breath ragged, he gasped the final, “Curtain.”

“Stage lights.” She walked by. The clinging jersey outlined her long shapely thighs. Dancer’s legs. She had them. Yes. She did. They stirred his interest, but not his soul. The lights glared, lights that disintegrated her charms, ended her performance, even if they didn’t answer riddles. Just in case, he avoided the poorly lit cast party, preferring the arms of his wife.

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Homeless
October 27, 2011, 3:27 PM
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I carved the sign first, chiseled the letters HOMELESS in birch.

Something wonderful happened, word spread. People dropped by with blankets and food. They offered to lend a hand with labor. The local newspaper picked up the story, provided daily updates; the story went national. Before I knew it, an organization mushroomed, with schedules, volunteers and timelines. My comfortable abode was built in less than a month, moved by truck.

I entered the cage, prepared to live in protest. That’s when everything stalled. I could have my free speech, but lacked the permit to erect a structure on public property.

Cross-wired the rules, oops…discovered only 100 words after posting…

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