a visit with the hags

my back propped up against her for support, it is quiet at last. the bulldozer has turned off its incessant engine, all that scooping out of the sludge put to rest. what a lot of muck accumulates in the course of 30 years underwater!

nearing twilight, i sit now in the company of these wise old hags who stand vigil, their wet feet filtering the flow. i hadn’t realized that the reason she’d struggled so to surface was because her own young legs had been sucked into the mire. the bulldozer operator said a person would drown before she got free of that muck.

the water upstream from here is vibrant, young and wild. i visited it earlier today, followed its meandering course through boulder-strewn, moss-covered woodland. it will surely fill this carved out space with freshness.

i imagine a woman’s journey requires the influx of the girl from time to time, or always, to set the mired  one free.

all this dredging has made me weary again, although the sky is clearing at last after days and nights of heavy cover. surprisingly cool, an evening breeze lifts the corner of the day’s humid blanket. godde, how i wish i were less inhibited. i’d strip and let it dry my clammy skin. but the grasses here would no doubt scrape my back. last year’s grasses, they are crackly and dry.

looking up, i notice the old one next to me is wrapped in vines like an old woman bedecked in strands of costume jewelry. i can almost envision her hat strewn with flowers and beads.

an owl startles the silence with his exclamation point.  no doubt i am in his kitchen and it is time for his dinner (or breakfast whatever the case may be). a woodpecker drills over my left shoulder, seeking nourishment in dead wood, the peepers trill to my right, and the sun dips into the treetops like a cookie into milk before bed. the water continues to flow at my back, gurgling more loudly than it seems it should. we are all hungry it seems…….

last night, a ladybug found its way into my sleeve as i slept. an answer came quite clearly, though when i awakened it slipped right through my heart and back into the darkness. it seemed so certain! it suprises me that it would disappear so easily.

i wonder, can she smell me? this creature who come at twilight. i see her footprints in the mud. i know she comes to drink at night.

i drink at night too, thirst quenching dreams of eagles and girls, of blue gowns and fluorescent deep sea eggs.  yet in the morning all that remains are these tracks in the mud. sometimes, I can identify the visitor, but more often there is no name i can give her. i know only that something drank deeply, then crawled back to sleep as i woke.

i yearn to meet her gaze some night, to see eye-to-eye the light flashing, the timid stillness.

how to reassure this creature inside of me that i intend her no harm?

cabbage whites

small white butterflies. again. dancing in the abandoned field behind my suburban home. twirling like my granddaughter in her tutu. you remind me of the girl in me, who delighted, chasing you.

oh, how I thrilled when one of you was yellow. you were the prize, the extra in the ordinary, the peanut in the box of crackerjack.

that was long before i was told you were a pest, and that the tiny trumpet-shaped blossoms that were your favorites were weeds. ah but those blossoms, so subtly pink, hid their color in secret so that only a butterfly–or girl who looked very closely– knew that they weren’t really white at all, and closed themselves entirely when plucked from the vine no matter how many times a girl tried to bring them inside to her mother.

where have you been all these years?

surely you’ve been here all along, though it seems to me your return is sudden and at once, with a riot, like those cicadas that rise from their earthy sleep once every 17 years, as they did that lovely summer when I was wed.

it seems you have been waiting just to jump out and surprise me as I round the corner to the garden. as i try to walk faster (they say it is good for my heart), you skip along beside me circling, circling like that little girl, tripping me each time with your beckoning, ‘see me, see me!!’

has it something to do with this spring of my 50th year, the one that came without winter, that has me out of doors in ways I haven’t been for so long?

you know what is good for my heart.

an apple a day

Doubtfully, she glanced sideways at the apple, certain that nothing creative was going to flow from her womb this evening, though she’d been surprised to see the word ‘lovemaking’ there on the free-association list she’d brainstormed earlier in the week, while waiting. Each time she visited that particular room at the doctor’s office, she’d perched in the same blue chair, pulling it away from the blinds, into which it was always so carelessly shoved. There was something about the spacing of seats that called her to uncharacteristic order every time.

This evening she pulled over the other porch chair to prop up her weary legs and picked up her pen again. Though she’d intentionally flipped it off on her way, behind her the kitchen light switched on again, casting both shadows and light through the blinds at her back, on the other side of the glass.

The evening was so unseasonably warm. The entire winter had been so. Turning her pen’s attention to her great granddaughters, to whom she wrote to each evening, she wondered if their March evenings would request of them summer weight fabrics and cool drinks.

The sounds of the traffic distressed her, though she knew she could choose otherwise, as her yoga instructor had suggested, choose to stay out of judgment regarding what her senses brought into her awareness. She could choose to bless each motorcycle, tractor trailer, airplane, be grateful for them, but she wouldn’t. Not tonight, when their constant clamor drowned out the chirping spring peepers and overwhelmed any potential rustling of dry leaves being stirred by the breeze to rise from their turned-down winter beds.

That stubborn apple beckoned from behind the cooling mug of spicy vanilla chai tea, but with so much distracting noise, her eyes were instead drawn to the sky. Always somehow that sky offered her peace, but especially tonight in this place stripped of silence. There was quiet out there somewhere, she imagined, beyond the drone of traffic and the chaos of commotion. Her heart longed for such a place.

She would not write about the apple –full, round, smooth, organic, whole, bruised, juicy, dripping down her chin pleasure, fearless love-making – she would write about her heart, the way it longs for wild places, quiet places, intimate places. She would write about the way these tulip tree limbs, in all their gangly adolescent yearning, reach for that same dark sky, about the dark sky that silhouettes them so gracefully, adorning their skinny limbs with tiny jewels, appropriate for ones so young.

If she were in Algonquin, the sky tonight would surely be littered with jewels, like some overflowing treasure chest that she could scoop her eager hands into and draw up handfuls of preciousness. The loon would be punctuating the night air with its plaintive song and she would be lying on her back next to the lapping water, letting herself be filled.

But tonight, she would settle for Orion’s belt encircling the slender neck of Tulip Poplar, who just last year flowered for the first time, while Venus keeps watch from the west and the neighbor’s dog barks to be let in.

The apple invites her to take a juicy bite, to seal her lips around its fullness and slurp her sweetness into her hungry mouth. To let the precious drops flow down her chin to catch upon her outstretched tongue. She’s heard it’s good for her heart.

Her heart yearns for sweetness such as that, for such a flow as that, a flow that makes it pump a little stronger, a little faster. This inertia makes it weak. Her flow pools around her ankles, causing them to swell.

In the distance, a train passes through the neighboring town, not nearly the assault on her senses as the traffic had been earlier. It beckons her return from distant places. She notices that the earth has rolled again with her upon it. Orion has been taken off her slender neck, laid aside on the dark table of the sky. The dance has ended for the night.

Returning the chair to its place, she picks up the unbitten apple, carries it inside to the other side of the blinds, and shields her eyes from the light.

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