Friday, June 29, 2012

Fibonacci's number

The flower emerges, opening wide its petal arms and, just like that, Jesus has come again.
The seed head stands gallant, reaching skyward, a star burning at its core.

It was there from the beginning, you know
at the very planting of the seed,
the miracle.

Of pattern and spiral and dancing coils.

Before the flower grew skyward, or opened itself to the eyes of the world
a mystery was embedded within.
A figure of beauty and grace
seeds lining up just so
going on to tell stories and ring out glory

And if I were to look deeply 
might I begin to see that same joy tattoo

In the birds and the bees and the sycamore trees
a dripping spiral
of utterly wondrous magic.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Deep calls to deep

The sun explodes and the grass crackles and I don’t know how much longer this can go on. 
I walk among the flowers, the ones that I planted during the eternally long spring
when all was melting and swelling and hopeful,
and I feel  a quickening.  

A hint of desperateness begins to pulse within my veins and the image of a desert child falls into my lap.  The child, whose clothes drape and fall across lines of bone and sinew, is quiet. 
But her eyes speak, deep wells of color calling to the same.
Her crumpled shoulders bear the weight of a hundred summer suns
And, heavier still, the burden of unrequited hope.

I finger the leaves of the morning glory, the one that trumpets blue and purple hallelujahs at dawn
And the heart shaped foliage recoils at my touch, the weight of my hand oppressive.
No living thing seems able to regain its right posture once I pass by.

How can one be like That tree?
The one by the stream. 
The one that prospers.
The one that lives.

I look at the garden my husband planted. 
There are mounds of compost and manure encircling every plant, every root
and I marvel that this dirt, composed of things that are dying, is the bridge to what lives.

If that is so, that in the dying, there is life
What do I do with that desert child?
What must die so that she can live?
If the weight of my hand is oppressive and things crackle under my feet, then
We are doomed.

I sink to my knees, pawing at the ground.
Surely there is water somewhere deep.

Linking up with Emily

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Capturing the sky

There's a rhythm to these days when it is so bright and the sun burns with so much ardor.   After breakfast and the dishes and the making of beds, one load of laundry is begun.  One load only, because that is the exact capacity of my clothes line.  One load.  It's been a shift from how I used to do this task. Before, I would attempt to complete the entire mess of it in one day, with a steely resolve that, inevitably melted into a feeling of chagrin.  For no one wants to do load upon load of laundry.  Ever.

But now, because I am dependent on something outside of my own energy reserves to complete this task, I must adjust my expectations.  For you can't rush the sun anymore than you can hurry a turtle.

Today it was a set of sheets.  Crisp, white sheets that were a wedding present.  They are showing their age now (could it really have been fifteen years already?!).  The sweet eyelet band at the top of the sheet, which is as close to frilly as I'll ever get, has frayed and torn.  But that's okay.

I walk out to the line with the sheets thrown over my shoulder, for their damp coolness feels incredible in the close warm air.  As I hang the sheets, I'm instantly thrown into a battle with the gusty breezes that will highlight this day.  As I stand firm against the burgeoning cotton sail, the sweet smell of lavender and eucalyptus dance around my head and I am instantly enchanted.  Such a simple, clean smell.  And I am quieted somewhere deep.

I finish the task and as I turn to go back inside, I'm checked by another southerly gale.  This one calls all of the laundry to attention and there is a quick snap of a sheet.  I turn hastily turn around to see the source of the report.

And it is then that I see it.

The sheet has already melted from attention and is floating with an ease that inspires a jealous prick in my soul.  It billows and falls, rises and sinks...all with a grace not often found in me.  The trees cast shadows that look blue upon the white fabric and through the fingers of their leaves drip dapples of sunlight.  The sheet has become as an artist's canvas and it is capturing the sky.

I want to gather it in, all for myself, because who doesn't want to hug the sky?  But I know that the gift is really in the seeing, not in the owning.

So I stop. And I see.

"Even after all of this time
the Sun never says to the Earth,
'You owe me.'
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights the whole sky."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The space between

As I stand in front of the mirror, I pull my fingers through my hair, lifting the strands up and away, revealing truth.  I quickly drop my hand and for a brief moment I shoot a grimace at my reflection.  Then my face relaxes and I smile.
I am utterly bewildered at the plethora of gray that fills the space between my scalp and that colored hair that I masquerade as my own.
I don't know what I loathe more, the fact that I ever started faking it in the first place or the reality that if I hadn't, I would be nearly 100% gray now.

I grew up watching my mom color her hair.  She claims that she never had a gray hair until she had me.  I think that statement is deceiving because at the time that she had me, she was also the mother to four other kids, ages 10-17.  And I was an easy baby.  No, the gray hair had nothing to do with me, lady.

I can see her now, standing at the half-bath sink, hands covered in clear plastic gloves, tipping the plastic bottle of color on to her head.  The color in the bottle never matched the color of the lady's hair on the box that teetered on the sink's edge.  It tended more towards the yucky side of the color wheel...when all of the colors get spun around too fast and then spill awkwardly into each other.  Thankfully, when the timer went off and the allotted amount of minutes had passed, my mom's hair looked pretty normal.  Natural, even.

I grew up watching this and, every time, I whispered silently to myself, "I will never do that."

And so here I stand, in front of the mirror, thirty some odd years later, playing that tape over in my head.  Despite my childhood vows, I have grown into the kind of woman that colors her hair.

That skunkish ribbon of white that runs from my forehead to my crown, the silvery whisps that frame my temples and ears...I'm just not ready to own them. Yet.  Those gray hairs even feel different than the satiny locks of my youth.  They are coarse and wiry, with a mind completely of their own.  And they don't match my insides.  

Will I ever feel like they match my insides?

Lord, I hope not.

But I have a feeling that there will come a day when to continue the charade will be the joke, not the number of grays.  And I will slowly, over time, let the gray take its rightful place.

For now, I will simply stare at the space between, relax my face, and smile.

"dance mehitabel dance
til your old bones fly apart
i ain't got any regrets
for i gave my life to my art"

from "mehitabel dances with boreas"
by Don Marquis

Linking up with L.L. Barkat
 On In Around button

Monday, June 25, 2012

How the sun burns

We are in the full throes of summer now that we have rounded the corner of mid-summer's eve.  The days sear sun and the Earth answers in shadow.  The air hangs long and low, enveloping all that brave its embrace.  The heat invites those that remain hidden to emerge, to look for water, food, new places of protection.  We, on the other hand, the ones that can usually be found among the grass and brooks and trees, find ourselves hunkering down in the coolness of home.  We are beginning to shun the sun and its cohorts.  The summer burns hot now.  And we are more fragile than we thought.

But there are two sides to a flame.

There is life in light.  Deep, throbbing life.  It is written in the leaf of the swiss chard, with its veins of blood red crimson, spreading like a tree of life in every.single.leaf.  It is in the swelling berry that, at first, blushes scarlet but quickly grows heavy with sweetness, turning darker and richer each day.  That long, slow flare, that is what elicits this life source.

So we ignore the heat and the humidity, fan our foreheads and set up our tent.  We promised.  So we must.  And we haul in our sleeping bags that no one plans to sleep in and we carry our pillows and stuffed animals and pen lights and books.  And we settle in.  We adjust our eyes to the darkness, only to realize that the sky still glows with the memory of the day while it rocks the fingernail moon in its bosom. The locusts and the katydids and the cricket frogs hum and sing and click, laying the rhythm of night and we float on its trusted cadence.

Because to burn is to also glow.  And glowing is magical.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I am She

"All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.  No man does.  That is his."
-Oscar Wilde

The days have slipped into patterns of light, of warm breezes riding atop swollen air, of droning insects and swaying flowers.  I wake to sunlight, hours old, and I stretch long into the morning.  I've adopted a uniform of summer, the one sundress that I own, hung on a hook each evening to "air" and then slipped over my head, morning after morning.  It is the perfect choice for hot, muggy days and that is now everyday.  I suppose folks might begin to notice its patterns repeating but I don't care.
I pad into the kitchen, bare feet upon cool tile and I reach for the coffee.  Always the coffee.  And the memory of it all begins.  So much of what I gather from sweet childhood reveries is deeply planted in the marathon days of summertime.  Days of bare feet running across grass and rocks and pavement, absorbing the rich purple hue of mulberries.  Hours of laying on a cool sheet, looking up into the canopy of water locust leaves and receiving the glimmering gold of heaven through its openings.  Sounds and smells and the slow tick of time...those were my summers...that was my childhood.

The picture above captures one of those moments.  It was my 5th birthday and I have no idea where the Mickey Mouse ears came from because I certainly hadn't been to Disney Land.  Obviously, my five year old self didn't care about those particulars and I just relished in the possession of, said, ears.  And smiled. The sweet, blond headed girl to my right was a spit fire spirit that burned hard and bright.  She was voted the girl with "Most School Spirit" our senior year in high school.  But looks can be deceiving.  She committed suicide our sophomore year of college.  

And behind me stands my mother.  Full of laughter and grace and light.  That is how I always saw her.  

In my memory of this picture, she was wearing a sundress because she was always wearing a sundress.  Like me.  This summer.   And then I realized, in this picture, my mom is the same age as I am now.  And I don't believe it.

Because I can't possibly be full of as much laughter and grace and light as she was.  She was a full-on mother, replete with experience and wisdom and magic.  She floated through her days, cutting cantaloupe with expert skill, placing the plates and forks and spoons on the red metal tray that is now on top of my fridge, and carried it effortlessly onto the deck for us to eat our breakfast as the morning sun warmed our backs.  

Do I float?  Do I move through my days with a knowing grace, gently rubbing the cheeks of my boys while simultaneously running a household?  Because I feel like I am fumbling, a lot of the time.  I get to the end of some days and feel as if I have just survived a string of moments in which I was making it up, this mothering, the entire time.

Did she have doubts, like I do?  Did she pray like fire that she wasn't ruining the hearts of her children?  Did she worry about whether she was doing all that she should be doing, to grow a family? to tend souls?  to change the world?

And then I can't help but wonder whether these days of summer are branding themselves upon the brains of my boys.  What kind of crazy mixed up images am I depositing in their memory banks?  Those thoughts kind of haunt, you know.  And although I'm tempted to despair in them, I am simultaneously inspired by them.  I, too, have the potential to spin laughter and grace and light, perhaps even a bit of magic, into the hearts of my boys.

For it is summer, after all.

And summers are the script of childhood.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A trip to Amish country

"It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature." 
-Laura Ingalls Wilder