that last frozen grey morning.
all my friends
waking to familiar belonging,
our hands and laughter
all tied up in the patted roundness of
a single snowman.
beneath the enormity of night,
morning waved stark white sheets in cold wind.
they clapped like thunder
as life threw a dark ribbon of pavement
we were gone before
the last star disappeared. before
anyone woke with a pounding red thrill in their hearts
to return to each other
and all that
connecticut for california
in the half dark morning.
i leaned across the back seat to
watch life as i knew it, grow smaller and smaller
retreating from the dark window like a silver necklace pulled from view.
strange how fast everything
we know can
look out mountain,
pockets full of arrowheads
waiting in musky drawers.
old train tracks blowing past
the textile mill grandfather managed
all of his working life, never missing a single day.
my father rolled our car to a slow stop.
he looked so fondly up to the window of his youth.
something filled his voice, thickening it like honey in water.
words so golden with bright longing,
they formed stairs that took him back,
so perfectly back.
"we use to walk past these tracks after school
and stand right below
that window where dad worked.
he always knew when we would go by and
threw us coins...copper, that rained down to jangle and bounce
like a hard summer rain at our feet.
we scrambled for them and flew off waving goodbye
for the soda fountain and penny candy".
her never cut hair in a halo of braids round
and round the crown of her head.
her kitchen, enormous,
as were her meals.
together at the round oak table
where all her now grown children once labored over homework,
and when times were lean,
hoped for the last piece of corn bread.
an old round tin arrived from that
chattanooga kitchen all tangled up with the smell
of time, wrapped in brown paper,
tied with tired
for as long as she lived,
they arrived like the last chorus to an ancient song.
her handwriting on the brown paper
wore away the years
until it barely recognized itself.
fruitcake dense with the work of her hands,
pecans from her trees.
trees where my brother and i fed squirrels
kneeling together, quiet for the chance.
almost like a prayer,
beside the long covered porch on the edge of memory,
we had to leave too.
endless road stops, the unfolding and refolding of maps,
sibling quarrels, car games,
a sketchbook within reach to draw pictures
of what i was sure waited.....
open windows without screens,
begging me to reach out and pick from the
abundance of always blooming flowers.
warm night air whispering
under the hem of stars.
a new neighborhood
to wake up in the
sarah jane and her husband dan.
ancient, childless relatives on my mother's side.
we filled their san diego bungalow
with the clamor of family life, as our house was built.
she filled my hands with needle and thread,
the endless possibilities of imagination, cloth, and creation.
she filled my heart with the miracle of making,
the grace of sharing, the mercy of caring.
for one languid summer,
i lost myself in the sanctuary of their yard.
where abalone shells nested in the roots of fragrant trees
...that tossed their white flowers
spilling over me, over me...
the iridescent shell pools catching the warm air,
the tiny flowers...
the quiet voice of solitary yesterdays.
where life held me suspended like a bookmark between chapters,
while sarah jane embossed my heart in the perfect art of being there.
before i dove once again, flat out into the gregarious life of growing up.
i will never know
who needed the other more,
the childless wife or the friendless child.
but i know this.
she was the open window, the warm air. she was the abundance
of always blooming flowers.
she was shelter and love that never left me,
kindness, mercy and compassion on
my stumble to belonging.
i want to thank everyone whose hands are all tied up in the
making of my life.
thanks too for the black and white photographs
that helped me share these memories.
i hope you will click on each one and marvel at the
exquisite work of their hands and eyes.
now, please tell me, where did your stumble take you?