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2012 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States
Worldly goods
I wonder if there’s going to be room on my shelves for all my books. I found the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, read it through last night. Gorgeous and creepy. No wonder, according to family legend, I memorized forty quatrains of it and recited them to myself standing up against the slats of my crib after my nap. But if the door opened just a crack, I went silent as a clam. I’m looking forward to more and more reminders of my wonderful life in the near future, as I touch every book I own.
The heart of the matter
Love isn't wisdom, that's for sure.

2011 Phsar Dey Hoy, Siem Reap, Cambodia
There is a tok-kai - Khmer for the larger of the two local geckoes, it says its name - nearby. I’ve heard it four times now, and the first time it could have been on my balcony. Then it moved further away, and now it is moving closer again. They get around.
Unfortunately, there is a mosquito even nearer by. I heard the little vector whirring in my ear as I was drifting off to sleep last night, so I turned the fan on and slept crossways at the bottom of the enormous bed directly under the fan, in a whirlwind no mosquito would brave.
I talked with a friend about my discovery that the baby next door I was sure was a little girl is in fact a little boy, and how that changes our relationship - well, my relationship anyway - creating more distance between us. My friend related a similar, thankfully brief, experience with a baby she gave birth to.
One of my neighbors had a hammock strung up on my balcony yesterday when I left to dangle in my own hammock at a restaurant outside of town, but the neighbor's hammock was gone upon my return, so apparently no claims are being staked. A month from now - God willing and the creek don't rise - I too will be gone from here.
Vanished and misplaced
This is the current working title for the piece a friend suggested I write on all the mysterious disappearances I have experienced. I’ve hit pay dirt. I thought of the cameo yesterday, one of my very few family heirlooms, that I briefly lost, and that was found, first by someone I think of as the wrong person, who also lost it, then by someone I think of as the right person, who returned it to me. I also remembered my friend's cat with the unpronounceable name - rumored to have been born in New York City on September 10, 2001 - who disappeared while I was visiting and was never seen again.
The heart of the matter
I like getting flowers and chocolate, but not on a day when such things are expected. Valentine’s Day leaves a lot of people out, though I am at the moment recalling the sweet inclusivity of grade-school celebrations, with those inedible chalky pastel hearts stamped with romantic sentiments, when everyone was everybody else's Valentine.

2009 Tarnow, Poland
The poetry of snow
The wind is up now, stirring the trees piled higher than I could have imagined with heaps of snow. When I go exploring later today, free from all cares and responsibilities on this marvelous Saturday, I suppose I can expect a heap of snow to fall on me. It will make me giggle, even as it sneaks inside my scarf and runs down my back in icy rivulets.
Ferocious kind of love
It’s February 14th and all those stylized symmetrical hearts remind me of my friend who’s going to have valve-replacement surgery in a couple of days. We’re nine time zones apart, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference. We’ve always talked on the phone, even when I could bicycle to his house.
When I called him yesterday, he said, “It’s a pig valve.” It wasn’t a statement I was expecting to hear, perhaps not a statement anyone is ever expecting to hear.
“A what?”
I may have been a little sluggish on the uptake, but he wasn’t. He said “pig” again in English, then repeated “pig” in Russian. I knew he was going to ask me how to say pig in Polish. I remembered how to say “pork,” but not pig. My students get the English mixed up, too, they assured me when I asked them later.
When my dear friend and Polish teacher told me that “free as a wild pig” is the Polish equivalent of the English “free as a bird,” I pictured the emancipated swine flapping unlikely wings and getting effectively, if perhaps not gracefully, airborne, waving goodbye to whatever ties pigs down. “When pigs fly,” cynics may say, but I’m rooting for these piggy angels.
The wild pig mentioned in connection with liberation is only one of Poland’s porcine inhabitants; another is known as dzik, which loosely translates as “wild thing,” and is known to taxonomists as Sus scrofa. Everyone I’ve spoken to in Poland can recite a children’s rhyme about the dzik’s bad disposition and sharp tusks, and the strategy of climbing a tree should one have the misfortune to encounter the beast on an otherwise pleasant outing in the forest.
I renamed Valentine’s Day “Javelina Day” a while back. The words aren’t quite anagrams, but they’re sneaking up on it. I doubted that the creature also known as a peccary had ever appeared on a greeting card associated with affection, which made it seem like the perfect antidote to Valentine’s Day. But the nearsighted, diffident javelina may be winding up its stint.
Lately, I’m picturing a dzik with little lacy hearts impaled on its fearsome tusks as it rampages through displays of chocolates and champagne. It must be a ferocious kind of love I’m looking for.

all rights reserved Josephine Bridges ©2012-2013