Wednesday, September 17, 2014

an assignment

"Children are a blessing, a delight, a wonder.  They're also a minor cataclysm."
                                                                                                      - Esther Perel
                                                                                                         mating in captivity

From left: Mr. Ninja and Mr. Cook, age 3 and 6

Mr. Reporter, age 11
Mr. Tailor, age 13

Because the assignment needed to be completed and submitted by the next morning.
Because dinner was over and we wanted a pause before washing the dishes.
Because we needed to sit for a bit and ponder over the question.

We turned to ten years of carefully catalogued snapshots
stored in little files on the computer-
and not dictionary-sized scrapbooks on the bookshelves.

Because I'm camera shy- and he isn't.
Because the days are long and the years are short.
Because he thought about it- and I didn't.

We could remember the significant milestone of Mr. Cook's sixth year,
fall into giggles,
and be grateful for it all.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Turtle

breaks from the blue-black
skin of the water, dragging her shell
with its mossy scutes
across the shallows and through the rushes
and over the mudflats, to the uprise, 
to the yellow sand,
to dig with her ungainly feet
a nest, and hunker there spewing
her white eggs down
into the darkness, and you think

of her patience, her fortitude,
her determination to complete 
what she was born to do-
and then you realize a greater thing-
she doesn't consider
what she was born to do.
She's only filled 
with an old blind wish.
It isn't even hers but came to her
in the rain or the soft wind,
which is a gate through which her life keeps walking.

She can't see
herself apart from the rest of the world
or the world from what she must do
every spring.
Crawling up the high hill,

luminous under the sand that has packed against her skin,
she doesn't dream
she knows

she is a part of the pond she lives in,
the tall trees are her children,
the birds that swim above her
are tied to her by an unbreakable string.

-Mary Oliver

Isn't it curious how the little ideas do come to us, eventually, whether "in the rain or soft wind" as Mary Oliver writes, or a gripping tug with enough force to take our breath away? I'm interested in the quiet ones- the impressions that return one or two times before we decide that they are worth playing with- worth moving our bodies into action.
pruning the hydrangea, Sept. 2014
For the last year I've had some guilt about this space.  Not wanting to say goodbye and also knowing that there wasn't time to write, I chose instead to do nothing here.  I stopped reading from the blogs on my reading list that regularly took hours of my time each week and instead poured over the origins and insertions of the muscles of the body.  I immersed myself into the foreign language of human anatomy and physiology along with the other eight students in my class and together we learned how to feel with our hands what our eyes couldn't see.  We learned more about our habits and weaknesses- and how to let go of our fear as we asked for help.  We learned of our capabilities as our determination, efforts and hard work showed us a glimpse of who we are.  One instructor expressed during the first few months of school that massage therapy school is sacred, a concept I hadn't yet considered, and after seven months, we learned the truthfulness of her words.

After graduation day, we all dispersed like the seeds of a dandelion onto our new life journeys and I settled into additional continuing ed classes and employment.  The guys in our household started school again and suddenly, for the first time in fourteen years, I have six hours on Wednesdays and Fridays all to myself. And I am here- tending once again to the neglected garden of this space.

If I were a turtle, I imagine I'd enjoy the comfort in knowing what I needed to do each day of my life. The grounding and steadiness of being one with my surroundings- not knowing where I begin and the pond ends- is easy.  I lived a life like that once.  Today, I prefer the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of a dream and am grateful for what's been found along the way-weeds and all.  My face and hands have been dirty and tired- but at least they've seen and felt what it means to be alive- to be human. And that's something worth writing about.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.