I am not here for I am gone*.
Today the rain has come back again. Spring is nearly over.
And as I write, Eldest is flying home, which is not home here where I live, but home there where she lives now, where she has an exciting internship, money to earn, friends to make, things to learn. This delights her, this new life opening. And delights me, too, though with twinges.
Two months and then we can touch back together again, for a brief week together right before Eldest returns again to her real life at college, before Middlest takes wing for her new real life at college. For a week, two months from now, my chicks will all be together in one place.
I wish myself just that contented, though I know I’ll be distracted then, as I have been now, by the details of travel and daily meals and my own inner weather and only the morning after our various dispersals will I fully realize what is gone.
I don’t want to endure this summer living only for a brief week between the end of Eldest’s summer internship at one university and her return to her regular lab at her own university. I don’t want to hold my breath gasping for just one brief week between Middlest’s girlhood here at home and the rest of her amazing life out in the world. One week, even shorter than this past re-gathering, is too short a time to live a whole summer in. Too short a time to live in. My life will not be made up of these brief weeks, but broken by them.
Say rather, my life will be punctuated thus, with all that promised variety of orthography (:,.!?!), say rather enlarged, as if my territories, my scope for imagination were stretching wider, or enriched, so that at least my breakfast bowl will be even more full of natural goodness and crunchy sweetness than ever.
Oh, we’ve had such sun this May, everything so very green, with blooms bursting out all at once everywhere.
The sound of the rain is perfect now. Repetitive, like this plangent plaint I keep playing for you. How I miss my daughters. How I am so happy for them, so happy with them — even when that means without them.
The rain is the same as it’s always been, there in the background all the years of their growing up. The price we pay for the intensity of green we live in.
“We shouldn’t have worked so hard at enjoying them,” I said (but I was lying) while last evening Fritz and I watched these girls who are not girls any longer. “Then we could just smack our hands together and give out big gusty sighs of relief that we’d finally got them off our hands.”
They were working together last evening, making matching family T-shirts. We all made them. Only Fritz’ turned out completely satisfactory.
But YoungSon wore his today to school. I’ll use mine for gardening, if I wear it at all. Though I don’t need a shirt to remind me of anything that has happened here.
Only a little rain.
Because May is May :: In honor of my sister Ironic Women :: To celebrate completing the first quarter of a month-long Double-Iron (so far, 13.5 miles on foot, 57 miles cycling, 40 laps swimming) :: By way of sharing only the hundredth part of today’s ride near the hub of the miracle ::
by Mary Oliver
May, and among the miles of leafing,
blossoms storm out of the darkness —
windflowers and moccasin flowers. The bees
dive into them and I too, to gather
their spiritual honey. Mute and meek, yet theirs
is the deepest certainty that this existence too —
this sense of well-being, the flourishing
of the physical body — rides
near the hub of the miracle that everything
is a part of, is as good
as a poem or a prayer, can also make
luminous any dark place on earth.
(“May” by Mary Oliver)
Where will you ride today?
How many things do I know by heart? The alphabet. My babies’ names. My address when in sixth grade (319 Birdsong Lane). This poem by Henry Vaughn~
Awake, glad heart! Get up and sing,
It is the Birth Day of thy King!
The Sun doth shake
Light from his locks and all the way
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day!
Awake! Hark how the woods ring!
Winds whisper and the busy springs
A consort make.
Man is their high priest and should rise
To offer up the sacrifice.
I would I were some bird or star
Fluttering through woods or lifted far
Above this inn
And roar of sin,
Then either star or bird would be
Shining or singing still to thee.
Because these words have taken root in my heart, they will often rise unbidden, tripping over my tongue when my heart lifts, shining or singing.
I have learned lately though that the poem I know lacks two concluding stanzas and that the words of the third stanza are properly “road of sin” not “roar of sin.”
But. How flat that “road.” How much better “roar” — the hubbub and carouse of that saloon out on the border where we lose so much of our time. My heart cannot assent to giving up the “roar of sin” —
Which is why Vaughn goes on without me, for I cannot agree whole-heartedly to his prayer to have his stable cleansed, knowing what I do of the fecundity in good manure for the most beautiful flowering:
I would I had in my best part
Fit rooms for thee! Or that my heart
Were so clean as
Thy manger was.
But I am all filth, and obscene,
Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean.
Sweet Jesu! will then. Let no more
This leper haunt and soil Thy door!
Cure him, ease him,
O release him!
And let once more, by mystic birth,
The Lord of life be born in earth.
I cannot pretend there is no good in any earthly thing. I cannot wish for sterility in the place of vitality. I cannot turn my back like Vaughan does on that lion-like Sun shaking a mighty mane, breathing fragrant life into the waking world. Instead of striding out to meet that Day, Vaughn strings up the danger line right at the border, denying any entry into that ringing wood.
Danger? My stubborn heart goes on warbling what I will, what I would, how I want to be a bird. Or a star.
Which? “Soak” or “Come Around Back”?
You’ve seen me through 11 months of favorite pictures: October 2010, November 2010, December 2010, January 2011, February 2011, March 2011, April 2011, May 2011, June 2011, July 2011, but now I’m stuck.
Maybe it’s just because I’m writing this in a cold and rainy March, but every single picture from August is so gorgeous to me. The sun shines, flowers and fruit everywhere, and everyone is smiling. How can I pick just one?
How can I not choose “Am So Comple-mentary” or “Become the Bean” or “Like the Word Bramble“? How can I not pick “Shine Like Summer” just so I can bask in those yellows? Doesn’t “Am the Great Saladini” deserve honorable mention for its name alone (not to mention the reminder of “Toss Summer Salad” growing right outside my door)?
I love “Soak” for the cool and refreshing colors and for its portrait of water — the contrasting textures from utterly still to bubbled, the reflections from the window above the sink, the brimming meniscus around each upthrust leaf — and I love all the squiggled and curving white lines of rootlets and leaf-ribs and feel settled so nicely by seeing the strong diagonal cleaving through the roundness of the watery bowl in its square frame.
“Come Around Back” though is such a great study of rectangulars, all done in soft and warm primary colors — and then hand-painted signage as well, to which I am never immune.
I seem to have taken a vow of silence.
Though if I have, it is from that unknowing part of the self that does what it wants without telling anyone about it. This part that almost always gets its way.
It’s not just being busy. More like a reluctance to be overheard.
But this morning I found myself thinking of this imaginary space. Curious about it. So I opened the door to look in. The space is still here. An empty room, a little dusty, shafts of cold winter light.
I am not ready to come back, but I think of you who have met with me here with fondness.
For you who have asked —
— The adoption process crawls on. Instructive and affirming to us as a couple, as a family, regardless of whatever final decision
— Middlest, who hoped for a spot on a college running team, is gaining strength again, has quit her wheelchair, quit her crutches, though she is quickly tired. Tonight she goes to her Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission meeting. I wonder if she will have anything to say about cars and soft-bodied humans trying to use the same roads.
— And Statisics? Having finally submitted to it, I find it so far mostly comforting — and bland. Which is just what I needed this term. Something like a nice egg custard. Not so much about the inner workings of the universe and the fingerprint of God as it is about different ways to display countable evidence. Limited but useful and contained.
My friends say you are bad news. They say you will be nothing but trouble for me in the long run.
My friends call you hard names like Global Warming.
They cite scripture and meteorological computer modelling and predict a variety of apocalypses.
But I can’t keep my heart from rising when you shine your warm sunlight like a blessing on my head.
Thank you for holding on to the brilliant leaves as fiercely fondly as I always want to. Thank you for dancing their warm colors before my eyes for two months longer than you should.
Thank you for the extra days of digging in the garden that you give me. And the sense of spring you bring to bear on my present autumn.