The King’s Fountain

Kings & Queens… of childhood

The Empty Nest Diary

(an excerpt from the upcoming memoir, which might be titled: Lila~the woman, the book, and the vagina; but probably not)

2664b05bc36988dada6eaf011c308888“Kelly Ann, close the door, you’re letting the air out.”

Did you ever wonder how you could let the air “out” when it was already…everywhere? It’s like giraffes in winter.

“Kelly Ann, close the door, you’re letting a giraffe in.”

Why does the door matter so much? Hadn’t you helped the King build the fountain, rock by rock, around a tiny pool, just outside the door? Why couldn’t you use that same door? And climb atop the rocks, and turn the fountain on?

He didn’t seem to mind.

True, he was rarely at the castle except at dinner time, and hardly much then. But he did make you silver dollar pancakes on Sundays and turned nickles into quarters from one side of your head to the other.

It was…

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The End… of everything.

This watershed piece came 3 years ago, during a winter writing week at the shore. Thousands and thousands words flowed afterward, but this is where the book began… outside

The Motherless Muse

McDonalsThe sun was strong. Just right for July. Summer’s peak. Like me, at 14.

We stopped at McDonalds along the way. I got my own fries. (Daddy wasn’t there to say, “Share.” )

I got a milkshake too. (Daddy wasn’t there to say, “Absolutely not.”)

I’d been living like this for a month. No parents. No little sisters. Just me and Linda and Larry who lived in the officer’s quarters attached to ours. (They even gave me my own room.)

Daddy finished up his commitment to the army in early June and packed up the house to join my grandfather’s practice at the shore. Mommy and my sisters went with him.

I stayed behind to face my first set of Regents exams. Three years earlier, we were transferred from Denver to West Point, and I was just beginning to find my stride, academically, when I had to leave the small…

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Prologue

The whole cosmos is a lila~the play of the Gods.
(Ancient Vedic Scripture)

There’s been an accident…

That simple phrase is so complete that it any telling renders it less so.  And yet, this telling stirs in me, like a miscarriage.

There’s been an accident…

These words shape a generation and re-shape the one before.

There’s been an accident…

If the loss had been a child, they would have softened into each other.  Instead, they scatter like water on a hot griddle, leaving the words behind for child’s play.

There’s been an accident…

For years, I imagine something else:

There’s been an accident, BUT… everyone survived.

There’s been an accident, BUT… she survived.

There’s been an accident,

But, no matter how I try, there is no way to soften the sharp and pointed ending of that verse:

There’s been an accident. Period.

Three decades pass and still those words define me. I want to rip them from my neck and let them scatter on the floor so that they never, EVER  find each other again.

But though I’ve fashioned thousands of words out of my life, I have not not been able to release this single strand. Until now.

Lila.

So soft on the tongue.

Lila.

Like rose petals.

Lila.

Surely death would have found her some day.  Why not at the height of her reign?

Lila Jane.

She–who spawned 14 granddaughters from her head, and another 5 posthumously–lives on in each of us. Abandons each of us.

There’s been an accident.

These are the words my father chokes on as he takes my crown.

 

Epilogue

Once upon a time, there was a young girl finding her way in a world which didn’t care to show her how.

But her father told her how it was. How to be just so. How to do it right. How to strive. How to win. How to be certain and sure.

Her mother didn’t say much at all; which was a relief amidst her father’s noise, but left her blind in navigating the confusion of her mind.

Thus, she followed in her father’s footsteps for a very long time…

Until she forgot her own feet,
her own heart,
her own beat;
And she grew very, very tired.

So tired, in fact, that she wanted to leap off a cliff;
no longer could she bare
a road
that didn’t lead…

To her.

In a final act of desperation, she turned off her father’s path, in the hope of finding her own.

There she found herself in deep, dark wood.
With loud noises,
And terrifying visions.

She turned back many times, thinking it better to be certain, like her father, than lost and alone; but each time she stepped back onto his path, she became ill, reminding her that His way wasn’t Her’s.

How did she ever find her own?

Little by little…
following the tiniest breadcrumbs
of that which brought her
joy &
energy &
contribution.

At first, she would leap ahead, like she had on her father’s path, letting her mind lead–with lists and plans and outcomes and designs.  But soon enough she’d trip and fall on her face, until she realized that His way came from the outside, while Hers came from… Within.

There would be no leaping ahead, no forcing, no winning, no shaming self into “just so.” There was only “what is” and witnessing and gentleness and so.

By and by her father’s rules no longer applied…
Would she win?
Was she right?
Was she just so?

He had His path, and she had Hers. No matter that he once directed the entire show.

Because even that wasn’t true. Which was something she learned on her grandmother’s lap many, many moons ago.

It was a night much like tonight when she couldn’t sleep for anticipation.

She tip-toed down the stairs, seeking comfort, and to her surprise wasn’t met with scolding or shooing, but with sweet understanding…

“Can’t sleep?” the Queen said. “Come into the kitchen and I’ll fix you some warm milk.”

And she did. She sat down on Queen’s lap and sipped… safe and held and known.

Until her father appeared.

A 6 foot 4 giant, bellowing from the doorway:

“Kelly ANN! WHAT are you doing out of bed!”

Her body jolted with familiar fear, but the Queen only pulled her closer, locking eyes with the giant, saying just as firmly:

“She’s with me, Bob.”

And so I am.
With me.
Now.
At midnight.
With warm milk.
Writing this story.
For you.

Introduction

Les vrais paradis sont les paradis qu’on a perdus.
The true paradises are those which we have lost.
~Marcel Proust

She was born beside the sea, delivered by the Sisters of Mercy, on the Feast of Immaculate Conception, of our Blessed Virgin Mary, and placed into the arms of a beautiful and overbearing Queen, her paternal grandmother, Lila, and brought to live with her in her castle on a barrier reef.

Rich, green ivy climbed the castle’s brick walls, and tall white columns ushered in honored guests. At the foot of the steps was a golden engraving, bearing the castle’s name: Sixty-Twelve.

Inside there was a staircase taller than any father, and a cherry bannister that curved its way from earth to sky.  Soft green stairs cushioned the descent of any who chose to ride.

There was music too. Piped into every room. A personal orchestra playing just for you.

Crisp, cool, mountain air, brushed your skin as you glided from room to room, no matter what the temperature outside.

Deep lush carpets and plush thrones lured you in forbidden rooms where children ought not go. An inner chamber beckoned you further–toward heavy drapes that hid the steamy world outside. If you were brave, and if you were strong, you could push one of these aside and hold it in place with your face pressed against the glass to spy the people passing by, leaving your mouth prints behind.

But better than the floor to window panes was the golden box built into a wall. If you could reach it, if you could drag a chair upon which to precariously stand, you might be able to touch the dials, and if so, your orchestra would grow hushed or suddenly BOOM.

The Queen would find you then.