light keeper chicken hawk

When it rains, the drops clang against metal in the busted gas fireplace in my living room. I hardly think about the fact that it's busted until it gets cold or it rains. Someday when there's a hole in the budget, I'll fill it with new heat. In the meantime, I crank up the furnace and peeve over all the static and my dried out sinuses.


The night before last, I got all the way to the end of a novel before I realized it was the fourth and last in a series.

It was a good book. Gripping. And I never felt like there were holes in the narrative. I think what I missed were the Easter Eggs -- the inside references to the previous three books -- names and places that tied back to something else and tugged. I didn't even know there were loose ends. How unplugged am I?


I bought a Light Keeper from a consignment shop. Have you seen these? The Light Keeper is a small gun-shaped doo-hicky that reminds me of the gadget my Mammaw used to sew buttons or rip seams. The barrel of the gadget sniffs out voltage. When you run it along a live wire, it beeps. The beeping stops when you hit a break in the circuitry.

More or less.


At the break in the circuitry, you pry off the bulb, stick the bulb socket into the gadget, and pull the trigger - bang bang bang -- until the whole damn thing lights up again. Defibrillation. It worked on a string of white lights. Revived, I wound them around the Christmas tree.


I tried again on a string of multi-colored lights, but only the yellows gave way. I woke up this morning thinking about that string again, all those dark greens and blues and reds. I saw myself checking the whole string, bulb-by-bulb, until I found the one that lost its fizzle.


I don't understand electricity, but suddenly it's fascinating. I drag a cheep, plastic gadget along a dark wire, and it tells me there is something live inside. How strange is that? It says, "Don't toss! I'm in here!"


The heat is on, and the house is full of static. My sweaters cling to my socks, and my hair drifts and sticks and flies away. I don't have enough humidifiers. And doesn't everything everywhere feel charged? My schools do. Social media does. It's all enough for a crying jag and a nosebleed.


I haven't been writing, not here, not on the edits to the novel I drafted a year ago. Even my journal entries have turned into budgets and schedules sprinkled with self-admonition. The album is still on hold, because I can't seem to get my momentum going again. I can't quite figure out what I'm doing here. There's a break in the circuitry. A couple of weeks ago, I opened my journal and wrote, simply: "Where are you?"


Last night I dreamed a large bird came to visit. My waking mind says she was supposed to be a giant hawk, but my dream mind, her thick winter plumage, and probably my recent discovery of Useless Farm Instagram, turned her into a chicken. She nipped at my fingers and head-butted my shoulder. "What is it? What do you want from me?" I asked over and over. I had no answer before I woke up thinking about busted tree lights.


If the world and its sad dysfunction is a chicken-hawk, I get lost in that question from time to time (always). You, too?


Does Chicken Hawk need another novel? Because, there are shelves full of absolutely beautiful ones right now at the library. Does Chicken Hawk need another pretty song? Because my good friend, Sara Routh, just released a collection of stunners today (HERE). Or does Chicken Hawk need a really committed, equity-minded, school psychologist who knows how to navigate a charged hallway?


I don't know. For now, I'll settle for fixing the lights.

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