Thursday, September 11, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The day was hot, and humid, and as dusk fell, I walked down to the river. The water was fast and cold and milky , coming tumbling down from the snowy mountains. I stayed in the shadows of the bridge. Sitting on a rock. Feeling the cool dampness of the river swirl around me.
Then I saw him. Poised on the edge of the bridge. Ready to dive. The freedom of his spirit rose with his arms. His face was lit with the light of reckless joy. His hair flew out behind him as he arced through the dusk. Almost he was a bird, glossy and black and flying and free. My heart twisted, because I fear heights. but his friends laughed and shouted for him, and he came to the shore shaking the water out of his hair and eyes.
He came, then and stood in front of me. His eyes were black and undecipherable. We said no words. Only I knew then that my life had taken a new path. I would never see the world the same again. I don't know what he saw in my eyes. but he lifted his hand in a farewell salute and he melded into the dusky fir trees.
I sat for a long time there, in the star light. Cool and unafraid. Strangely lighthearted. Ready to go to the grown up world. Knowing I would be sure and free to be me.
Many times since, I have found crows feathers. Those who know me, know that I treasure them. They bring them to me, and watch me smile. And I run my fingers over them. And they are clean and smooth and silky. And I think about long ago and far away. And I wonder. Is he still reckless and free? Did some one tame him? How is it now, is that black silk tipped with white? Can he still fly? Are there still friends to shout and laugh with him? Where have his restless feet traveled?
I doesn't matter that I will never know. But I will listen to the crows when they talk in the tree tops. I will watch them, feathers iridescent in the sun light. I will save me a crows feather. For long ago, and far away.
Monday, June 9, 2014
The real Wall, in Washington, D.C. is of course, more imposing. Larger. Stiffer. A Capital City monument. Still and quiet, you feel the grandeur and the heaviness of its meaning. The people come to see it.
The Moving Wall. Well, it's moving. It has heart and compassion. It gets up and moves to the people in the small places. The people who will never get to Washington, D.C.. It comes to the people who know. The mothers, now little and old. The ones who shed their tears so many years ago. It comes to the old shakey fathers with walkers and canes. It comes to the friends who have never forgotten. It comes to the children who have heard only stories. The children who wondered what was behind all the silence. It comes to the slender, lovely teen age girls with daisies in their hair. It comes to slouching teen age boys who never had to know about being drafted. It reaches out to them.
It was late when we got there. Warm and humid. A three quarters moon hung above us, and the purple clouds scudded across the sky. We have been to the Moving Wall before. Each time it is just as startling. This was our life. This defined what we are today. When you turned eighteen, you got drafted. Lots of boys went to Vietnam for their senior trip. These names on the wall are our friends, our contemporaries. All these names are our lifetime. We saw them go. We saw them come back. No one was ever the same.
The staff at the wall are gentle and kind and helpful. Finding the name you are looking for. Seeming to know which ones need comfort and words and which ones need to be left alone. We have taken rubbings before, so now we zero in and find our place.
Now we just walk along that long black wall and we find the names. We reach up and trace them with our finger tips. All along the wall others have left tokens of love and memory. Pictures. Flowers. Poems. Flags. Beer cans. Cigarette packs. We watch those around us. Those men with the long grey pony tails. The big brawny ones with their Harley jackets. The ones still in uniform today. These are the ones who know.
He came walking slowly to where she was standing. She traced the name with her finger and looked at him. "Touch it," she says gently. "I don't know if I want to," he answers. His reluctance pours out from him. She turns, away from the raw emotion in his eyes." "It might be your only chance. Reach out and touch him." Her voice is breathless, annoyed, compassionate. His hand trembles. Slowly he reaches out. His hand is work worn. Carefully he traces the small letters. Once, twice, three times. He removes his hat and holds it over his heart, his head bowed. He is crying. Tears splash on his hat brim.
They walk away, down that long black wall, holding hands as though they were young lovers again. A church steeple stands shadowy in the back ground. The bell rings from the bell tower. Deep and solemn, it strikes the hour.
I have my stone in my pocket. The Jewish people don't leave flowers for death. Flowers are too fleet and fading. But as a sign of respect, when they leave a cemetery they leave a stone. Because a stone will always be there. Love and memories will be as that stone. I like that. I always leave a stone. A stone for all the soldiers. A stone for all the names. A mans lips move, but no sound comes.
"Speak our names in voices like thunder." the song says. "Touch our names with your hands, so we know you have not forgotten us." Some silence sounds louder than thunder. The lightness of a finger tip across etched granite can be felt around the world.
To whom ever is responsible for bringing the Wall to the American people,our heart felt thanks.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Pear blossoms on the edge of the hill.
A stash of pots. Waiting their turn. Yes. Summer is coming to the Raggedy Garden. The sun comes shining early and the rains wash the winter away. The wind blows sweetly and the leaves dance. The grass turns green and the morning dew is a kiss. Tonight there was a rainbow, a perfect arch of colorflinging its promise across the sky. Come sit with me, and we can dream, and talk a little and smile, and sigh. For days to come and days gone by.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
"Reno and me, we just laughed, and agreed. It don't matter which way you go. When you're calling the highway your home. Every old town's just your past burning down. It don't matter which way you go." Some days you just need to call the highway home. Burn down those towns and cross all those bridges. Some times you just need to get up in the dark and get out home. Watch the night fade. See dawn come stealing over the horizon. See the world begin to awaken. Tiny lights coming on in the houses. Smoke from the chimneys spiraling into the sky. A thermos of coffee between you. The easy roll of the wheels beneath you. All those towns with names like New London, and Dover ,Portsmouth, New Salem, Bristol, Manchester, Leicester, Westminster. New England towns with old England names. Oh, but the rivers we cross! They have names like Piscataqua, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Contoocook. Wonderful names from the People who were here before.
The snow lies smooth and untrodden across the fields. It piles up in the corners of the stone walls. But I know, that when spring comes, those corners will be purple. Purple with violets, nodding in the sunshine. The rivers run black and fierce. rushing over rocks, piling up slabs of ice, huge slabs thrown by angry Gods. The forests are dappled with sun shine and shadow, criss- crossed by the tracks of the deer. The lakes are frozen over dotted with islands and fishing houses. A flock of tiny snow birds rises up, in unison, from the snowy corn stubble. They wheel and turn, still as one , and land again. You can hardly find them, so camouflaged they are with the land around them.
Long dead trees filled with wood pecker choppings. Huge old homestead trees, bare and gnarly , majestic even now, a lone swing swaying, empty in the winter wind. Two hundred year old houses standing firm against the hills. Granite posts still at the doorways, stone walls still marking the pastures. Horses whispering to each other near the old barns. Sugar houses still empty and waiting for spring. Abandoned buildings with intricate wood work. Once they were loved. Rusty old trucks and tractors.
"Reno and me. We talked it all out. And there's one thing we don't understand. What's the point of a race, if you stay in on place, thinking its somewhere to go?"
Monday, March 10, 2014
It is fragile and worn. As familiar to me as my own hands. I can't remember a time when it was not there. It sat on my mothers bureau on a fresh, crisp dresser scarf, hand embroidered, with crochet edges. My mothers bedroom was always neat, dim, with drawn shades. Cool and quiet. No one just went in there. Only for a special reason. Usually there was a babies crib, and a toddler bed. And the ironing board. When it was my turn to iron, I could go in there, in the dim quiet and iron the basket of clothes. That was the Wednesday job. Everything was ironed. Sheets and pillow cases. My fathers under shirts, Handkerchiefs. All the little dresses with ruffles and puffy sleeves. I loved ironing day. I always took a few minutes to stand looking at the beautiful box.
The box had a story. It was old, already then. It had belonged to my great aunt Annie, my namesake.She had only had one child, a boy who had died when he was only a toddler. It had been a life long sorrow to this Annie. She had never given up her grieving, for her only child. My mother had told me stories about visiting this home that had cute things that she was not allowed to touch, because they had belonged to the boy who was not there. There was a picture of Annie. She sits in an ornate chair. Her dress is long and has much fancy work. Lots of white lace, and a cameo at her throat. Her hair is held up with a large bow. Her skin looks smooth and soft. Her face is serious.
I think about her. I admire her box. I would not dare to open that lovely clasp, but I have seen my mother open it. Inside it is pink velvet. There is a brush and a mirror. They are off white celluloid, with pink and blue flowers. They have slots where they stay safe in, and there is an empty one for a comb, that was lost somewhere along the way. The mirror handle has a crack. The box is made of some kind of paste board and is covered with embossed paper. The smiling colonial boy on the top, with his powdered wig and lace jabot intrigued me.
I know, now, that this was just a poor girls beauty box. But to a plain girl like me, it was the most beautifulest, fanciest thing I had ever seen. It did not fit in our plain house. I knew that was why it was relegated to the dim bedroom, where no body went. We moved, to a different part of the country, we lived in several different house. The beautiful box always stood in its proper place on the tall bureau. The boy still smiled , he had been happy for a hundred years.
When I am a grandmother my self, and a great aunt Annie, I am in the dim, quiet bedroom with my mom and my sisters. My mom, now fragile and worn, and still beautiful opens the box once more. We hold the brush and mirror in our hands, again, and she tells us the story of Aunt Annie. She puts the things back in, carefully and shuts the box, closing the clasp. "When I am gone", she says, "then you shall have this Annie".
I know that I won't have her for very long, any more, but it hurts to hear it. I want that beautiful box to stay on the bureau for many more years. When the others leave the room, I stay there, again staring at the box and remembering. Did she somehow know about those times I just stood there, my ironing done, admiring the fancy beautiful box?
Now it has come to me. Carefully wrapped in tissue and sent over the miles by the US mail. It sits on my bureau. Still beautiful. Still shabby. Still ready for a silky skinned girl to brush her long hair and admire her reflection. The pink velvet s threadbare. The mirror handle had broken completely off. The clasp is tarnished, with many years. It is still the beautifulest, fanciest thing .
A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever