Looking Up

I'm looking out our front door, through the screen, to the green ivy ground cover. I see my parents' bedroom. The wallpaper, off-white with dark green ivy clusters and vines. I am lying in my mother's twin bed with her, and then alone after she died, finding faces, people in the ivy leaves and stems. There are families and scary-looking old men. Frowning babies and dancers. No one else knows who lives here. I look back through the screen. The volunteer dog walkers are passing by. My neighbor Richard is carrying his laundry in. The door is only open a foot so I can see out without being seen. I'm looking at the saturated green. I'm looking for my own aliveness, my own rich color to offset the soul-deadening forces in the world. I'm letting in the green, while cars zip by further on, on Sepulveda. The light at the street is harsh, a white glare of sun. Here, closer to me, there's shade. It's cool. From this view, I have an ivy moat, ivy lawn. Ivy hearts. I see all the places I've drawn them. In margins, in telephone books, painted on bowls and platters. Ivy hearts. I've drawn them without noticing, without recalling the smell of my mother's foam mattress, the warmth of her flannel-covered body, the faces that remained on the wall after she was gone. Ivy hearts. First love. Sustenance, just outside my door.