As the crow flies, the path that wanders through the enchanting tangle of the garden is only as long as a sip, and then a second sip, of coffee. Dark roast and pumpkin spice, in a blue pottery mug. Chrysanthemums spilling over crushed stone, brushing against your bare legs with the welcoming bloom of this is what you longed for all along. Old lace curtains fashion a screen door. Air laced with autumn leaves. This longing. To pack up the empty space. The absence in what you’ve come to know and travel the shortest distance to yourself. As the crow flies.
I’d gotten flowers for the first time one February. Roses, in a crystal vase. It was very much still winter, and that, I was certain, accounted for the bits of white Styrofoam added to the water. Sticking to the thornless stems. Not melting. My wild heart ached for the roses. Forced blooms and fake snow. An utterly unnatural charade. The only thing genuine about the roses was their color. Screaming red. Intense and urgent. A warning to me, not to settle. Not to sacrifice my truth. Of summer roses. Thriving in soil. Haven for bees and butterflies and wild hearts.
Yesterday I sat outside in velvet dusk, my wooden front step bleacher seats front row to summer’s nightly show and I was grieved to find that the fireflies were gone. Nearby, an old dead tree rejoiced though. Autumn can’t come soon enough. Stark skeleton, sticking out like a sore thumb among the limber loose limbed flourishing green leaves. But not for much longer and no more waiting, for the season of leafless. No more waiting to blend in with the still living. Lights out for lightning bugs, yes. But as summer ends, life begins again for old dead trees.
I’d been landlocked for a while now. More than long enough that my creativity was dry to the touch, despite the humid heavy summer air. Greedy for more moisture, the air stole the last of the ocean from my memory, as distant waves and swirling sea spray sentences evaporated. I had forgotten my process. Step behind the waterfall into the center of myself, to where I always found them. One word. Two. I could feel the rain coming. Crystalline drops of brackish materializing in the haze. Less humid, and more salt. Words wrapped in water eddying around my feet.
The geese do ballet. A kind of arabesque, same-side wing and leg outstretched behind their bodies in a graceful lengthening of muscle and tendon. They are sitting ducks, someone quips, as the geese prefer to hang out in the middle of the road that loops around the clutch of tiny houses gathered here. The ducks, on the other hand, choose to sit in the grass. The geese. Feathered duck pins arranged not so much for a game of bowling, but more for a round of Russian roulette.
Someone hit a goose a few days ago. One of three siblings hatched just a small number of months ago. Mortally wounded, she wandered to a patch of grass near the tiny house of a friend of mine, and there she died-my friend then making sure that the little goose would final rest peacefully in the wilderness. Heaven, on earth.
The geese, innocently oblivious to death and danger, continue to do ballet in the road, while from the sky, yet out of nowhere, a message written in drifting soft goose down. The littlest ballerina letting us know she is in a better place.
This piece is based on what happened here where I live just a few days ago. Sad, to be sure, but mysteriously magical too. ❤
It wasn’t her imagination. It really did seem to be raining inside her century old and then some Victorian. Her first thought was that the ceiling-a painted inky indigo sky with golden moon and stars, plaster cracked in jagged streaks of lightening lines-was leaking. Summer thunder afternoon, and she was sitting on her couch in what had been, back in the day when her house was built, the parlor. A word that these days made her think of tattoos and pizza. She’d been amid her own personal storm, crying so much that she felt like she had no more tears left, and looking up at the heavenly depiction overhead, she was startled to see drops of water falling from on high. Not falling from her ceiling though but appearing to materialize out of thin air.
I was, at the moment, seated near her on her sofa, which was covered in a softly worn sapphire velvet, the singular curve of the arms and back surrounding all who sat on it in a warm Chesterfield hug. Watching her, face in her hands, I wondered what had caused her so much heartache. I’d spent many hours in this parlor. Overstuffed with memories, favorable and not so much, that made me reminisce. What my life had been, now that it was no more, and I felt myself floating. I was able to do that now. I let myself drift up to where I could hover alone with my remembering, just below the ceiling covered with the mural that I had painted on a similarly leaden day a century and then some ago. An inky indigo sky with golden moon and stars. Tears then. Tears now.
I knew Christmas would come again. I knew it. It was just the idea of all of that time between Decembers. So far away, one to the next. So much stuff, so much life, to get through in the meanwhile, before the magic could happen again. As a child, always my day after Christmas thoughts.
My mom kept Christmas packed up in several sturdy brown moving boxes. On basement shelves in places where we had a basement, on shelves in the garage where we didn’t. I remember many times as a little kid, looking at the boxes. Longing for Christmas. Feeling sad, but also feeling excited. Because the boxes were like a promise. I couldn’t see inside them, but I was certain, without even needing to look, that there were wonderful things within. Wonderful things that were coming, just not yet.
Then somewhere, in between years, Christmas lost that magic. Life left me lost as well, longing, for so much more.
I’ve been in a season of uncertainty for almost two years. And I think about those boxes from time to time. How Christmas was inside, even though I couldn’t see it. Two years, this place of my own between Decembers. Stuff, and life. Dark days. Lots of dark days, but in the midst of the darkness, I remind myself of this promise. That God has a beautiful purpose for me. A perfect plan for my life. I know this time of waiting is necessary as He prepares me for what is to come. I know that some days it requires of me, to the point of exhaustion, incredible faith and trust, and oh there are days when I am tested almost to beyond what I can bear.
Those boxes and longing. And coming light. The true promise of what Christmas is. The greatest gift. The birth of Jesus Christ, and I am filled with excitement, anticipation. Yes, those boxes. Of mine. To remind me-a new season.
My Christmas is coming.
Her very often, “where I wish I was right now,” how it’s been a while, way too long since she walked on a stretch of sandy beach, endless almost infinite shifting soothing, beneath her feet.
A handful of sand, magnified 300 times, individual grains highlighted, diverse and beautiful. Bits of pink coral and black polished rock and iridescent shell.
That picture of herself, there on the beach. Lemon cotton and lopsided smile and long long salt tangled hair. After that day she’d gone on to live her life, one step away at a time, away from that picture of herself. Until the grains all but disappeared.
Still, lemon cotton and lopsided smile and long long salt tangled hair, and so so so much more.
A handful of sand.
I missed the Strawberry Moon. Not because I forgot about it. On the contrary, I watched the sky throughout the day, took measure of the clouds, wished and willed them into clear blue. But it wasn’t meant to be. I sought consolation in the fact that there are many other wonders of this world for me remaining likely nevers. It did not help, because there are other once hoped likely nevers that I am not missing. A loved one’s illness. Bitter divorce. Seemingly monumental struggles with mental health. No, I missed the Strawberry Moon. A once in a lifetime, that held a lot of significance for me, I mourned, as I tried to fall asleep amid thunder and lightening. But it was still there, I promised myself. That Strawberry Moon. High above the dark and gray. Still shining over me.
Yesterday walk, and to happen, by accident, to see quick stepping flight the up ahead, a young one, hand covering mouth, stifling a sob, so like yesterday me, and oh yes, oh yes, I get that kind of heart ache, and nothing, nothing you can say or do but just leave them be, because whatever it is, you know you must allow them their alone, to grieve.