About Elea Lee

Former foster parent, adopting parent, writer, educator committed to child advocacy and providing safe places for children and abuse survivors.

An Array of symptoms

No clearly defined beginning of the problem, if it could be called that.  No clear point when normal stopped being normal and started to feel itchily different. Like so many rites of passages or chronic conditions, it became noticeable gradually, over time with bits and pieces of things, jigsaw symptoms, sleepiness, lethargy, increased appetite then decreased appetite, the aversion or preference for certain foods, moodiness, a nameless dread, flushed skin, a strange rash along certain bone lines, the strangest feeling of weightlessness.  She did not know what any of it signified nor did it ever occur to her to suppose that all the other humans her age were feeling a similar array of symptoms.

The Night Squeak

here is what is known:

  • The squeak sounds tinny, electronic
  • As though it came from the bottom of this
  • deep historic stairwell
  • Only heard at night
  • It pings the depths in either a randomly-assigned, diabolically-complicated algorithm of beep-short silence-beep-long silence
  • As though Morse code and a squeaky sneaker had a love child
  • Love child, not exactly a fact, but I can see myself rising like a cartoon effigy of Scrooge, antiquated nightcap and tallow candle in hand and
  • Searching the building for you, squeaky electronic ghost
  • Is your battery loose?  Why do you emit these little beeps
  • So like a telemetry monitor only 
  • In this case the patient is 
  • Wide awake, thoroughly alarmed by what has to be broken-
  • Monitor or heart

Gathering flotsam

The hallway fire extinguisher is named Badger

And the rounded effigies on the first floor vending machine lack 

The appropriate replica for diet coke

So someone hand-wrote the words on a piece of paper and stuck it there

In the rounded plastic

slot signifying all the real ones inside

While outside 

The wind beckons

So real, so deep, night-real, night-deep

The way you might pick up pieces

Of sand dollars along the beach as light falls beneath the western

Horizon

Counting each–a quarter, a dime, or half-dollar

Fraction of the living

Miracle of ocean, deep and full of

things bigger than us

Bigger than either diet coke or Badger or

The things that would keep a body awake

In the deep

Of night

While outside the wind still beckons

Singing lullabies in siren voices

To the sleepless 

Us

Dear Jason Rosenthal,

Don’t worry–I am not writing to-nor will ever attempt to–marry you.

I read your wife’s letter and I think I have something better than a prematurely offered new spouse.

Prayer.

I will be praying for you and Amy and your three beautiful children.  The ordeal you are all going through sounds scary and harrowing.

So…prayer…prayer to a Person who I believe to be real, eternal and prone to the miraculous.

Because…more?

Nothing is “more”  than the kind of love that…

Confronts death
So, prayer…in the hope that your love with your current wife will last forever.

And the understanding that whatever happens, no wife as wonderful as Amy can be easily replaced.

E.

Ordinary Seduction

By  some inexplicable quirk of middle-age

I see the couple clearly-

Silent in the breakfast nook except for

the clink of spoons on ceramic bowls 

a regular crunch of cereal

They two alone in a room filled with light

not meeting

the gaze of the other

Because of ordinary seduction,

The old-ass Latin kind,

Where there is no longer even the lingering whiff of sexual connotation 

Only the word itself in primal 

dark splendor-

Adrift, led astray, removed

These

Soldiers pointed down the wrong path 

or lovers lost at sea

Where the simplest accident of seduction

Could drive this tiny boat off course

In an endless and unforgiving 

Sea.