I never want the people
who are coming
to be here.
I want the ones who won’t be
an interruption to my life,
who won’t make it necessary
that I leave.

I want the ones who can
enter where I really live,
as though we have been
sitting by the fire together
for years.
In this life as it is,
breakfast dishes in the sink,
dirt from a lake snail
littered across my desk,
a cat curled upon
my papers and books,
I wait for the English Breakfast
to cool,
for the rain drops to loosen
from the bougainvillea leaves,
and try to feel my way
into my day.
The pages I will finish reading,
the cellophane I will slice
with my nail,
freeing my herb calendar
into the year we will share.
There are things to contemplate
at this time of year.
It will not do to have just anyone
about the place.
I am in the throes of ponderous decisions,
date books with a page per day
or two,
appointments to the left of page
or right,
what precisely distinguishes
goal from to do.
Trying to remember the phrase
my homeopath used,
that maintenance goals never
come before management ones,
which everyday in my life they have.
Always trying to complete the
uncompletable to do list,
before I get down to what is mine.
How can I live the life I mean to live
in all this disarray?

“Happiness is a by product
not a goal,”
my high school counselor said
in response to my reply.
What are your goals, she challenged
from the power side of the desk.
I did not know then to say,
“to get to the power side of the desk.”
I have never known exactly what
goals are,
and so have had a hard time acquiring any.
I have always been hunkered down
in needs, desires, wants.
As close as I could get to goals
was dreams,
but my dreams –
I have never been able to touch them.

It is hard to live life on your own terms,
by which I mean words,
my native language which allows me
the truth of a life which is my own.
I don’t have many appointments,
I don’t live a very time-specific life,
nor seem well-suited to one,
never owning or wearing a watch.
Maybe once a day I circle a time
in my date book,
which means a certain person
at a specific place.

I want the people in my life
who can come at any time of day,
the ones with consciousness of
the infinite To Do,
who pick up their own plate
and wash it and put it away,
who say, “Thank you,” when I cook,
the ones who can penetrate
the veils of my life,
not observe and judge it
like a painting on the wall.
I want the people to come
who require no appointment,
who can pick up the paints
and say “green, of course,
is very good on you.”

A rainy day at the end of the year
in which I became 50,
there are things to think about,
last minute chores to do,
preparations and plans
for the balance
of my time.

Every year, since I discovered them,
I buy the same herb calendar.
This is the first year someone
has thought to give it as a gift.
Once, years before they hit the market,
I tried to create an organizer.
This year I am back to that,
because the manufactured ones
get farther and farther from
my non-executive life.

I choose the font which most
resembles my handwriting,
loose and round like my life,
too easily entered perhaps,
too readily let go of because
someone wanted to come.
I experiment with the numbers
until they are the size I can see.
I give Goals an entire page
and shrink To Do,
in an effort to make my life
respond to my intentions,
not just what is required.
As always there is not as much
freedom of creation as I would wish.
I cannot have To Do without its
subcategory: Priority.
I cannot have Goals without Due Date.
I want to be happy by Wednesday, the first.
From my desk chair a note to myself urges:
“Preserve continuity. Combat resistances.”
I have always had trouble
with both of these,
living a discontinuous life,
an old beau said.
On the 4th we will go to a party
we attend every year.
I will not write it on my calendar
because I do not want to soil it,
as my friend does to have full
documentation of her life.
I will enter it in my date book,
if it is ready by then.
Some years the date book
is late to come,
not until Chinese New Year,
a more generous New Year, if you ask me.
Next December I will wonder
whether to keep it or throw it away.
I know from experience
it will not survive the decade.

When I am gone there will be no record
of what I did,
though if I’m not careful too many pages
will track my emotional states
like cross continental turnpikes.

It seems important at last
to get my date book just right,
to organize myself toward
what I mean to do.
Rainy day. End of the year.
50. I hunker down
into a reflective mood
and try to remember the year,
one of apparent failures.
What is apparent is not always
Closing the lid on the trash
I say out loud
The decisions I’ve made
have all been good,
only difficult.
So I am trying to make it easier,
like having people in my life
who don’t feel like company,
and date books that don’t
make me lie.