Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

It is quiet this morning. The kind of quiet that allows the mind to wander and reach unencumbered. Two dogs at the end of a double leash. The park is empty except for birds and squirrels. Too early for most of my neighbors. They are still at breakfast. The moms are eating pancakes prepared by their children. Maybe breakfast in bed. Next to their plate are the cards and gifts. I make my own breakfast. A bowl of Special K with brown sugar and black coffee. Mother’s Day is bitter sweet. It is a day where memories and regrets bubble up. Maybe a fizz of self-pity. No mother. No babies. Just two dogs at the end of a double leash. What would Mama have to say about a dog that cost more than a car cost in 1967? About a dog walker whose monthly bill is more than the mortgage on the house at 425 Sharp Street ? About a case of dog food that costs me as much as her weekly trip to the Colonial Store? I am alone today. John is on Assateague Island for the weekend. Is it a coincidence that his spring rock fish trip often falls on Mother’s Day weekend? I thought about packing a lunch and heading out for a picnic with Arlo and Darcy. I can stow it in the pack I ordered for him after the hike at Harpers Ferry . Or I could go for a bike ride. It is a beautiful morning. Sunny. About 60 degrees. It feels like a crisp early fall day without the impending winter. Or I could paint my rocker. I bought some poppy red paint on the way home on Friday. I knew I’d want to paint something. I just didn’t know what. I thought I might paint the sliding closet doors in our bedroom but I realized that would mean removing all the clothes. If I do that I will spend hour organizing the closets and I am in a painting mood, not a cleaning mood. I spent yesterday morning putting together a patio table and 4 chairs. I ordered them from I saved $700. It only took me a little over 3 hours to put it together. When I was nearly done I realized I could have done it in an hour if I had used our socket wrench instead of the little hex wrench they provided. I am going to sit at my new patio table and read the Washington Post, but I want to write before I read anything. Later I will read more essays. Then I will work on the essay I plan to email to R. to be workshopped in July. Appropriate that the essay is about my relationship with my mother. It is likely I won’t get around to picnics and painting today. My thoughts and feelings are deep and fertile today. It would be a shame to waste them.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Still Arriving

The tiny dove that made her nest on the top step of our ladder hasn’t moved a feather. I saw her for the first time on Friday while I was showing the man from Invisible Fence where I wanted him to bury the wire. John was at a meeting in New Jersey. I couldn’t wait for him to call so I could tell him about our bird. I was reminded of the bird that had nested in our window about five years ago. I recalled the first time I’d seen her. John was away then too - fishing. I had just returned from the National Gallery of Art where I had spent the afternoon looking at all the ways the Holy Spirit was represented in paintings. The Holy Spirit has always been the aspect of the Trinity that has intrigued me. Inspired by those portrayals of the Holy Spirit and my nesting bird, I wrote a poem that I called “The Comforter” recalling Christ’s promise to his Apostles. John and I watched the bird. Watched as her babies hatched. Watched as they flew for the first time. The symbolism united us. It was something that we shared. One or the other of us will still talk about that bird and the experience of watching those babies fly for the first time. Since that day, my faith has ebbed and flowed. Appropriate I should use those words because my faith is always strongest when I am near water. Funny that the turning points in my novel involve baptism and drowning. I am still arriving at belief. Maybe I will never arrive.

The Comforter
(I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18)

I pause in the midst of my busywork and look up.
Outside, in the window above the woodstove I see a nesting bird.
So still.
So calm.
So perfect.
Alive or dead?
The pose so flawless as if sculpted by the hand of a great artist.
Alive or dead?
So still.
Had the nest been there yesterday? The day before?
Had it been there for many days?
Has it been so long since I paused and looked up?
Should I draw the bird or photograph her?
I look forward to John's call so I can tell him about the nesting bird.
So still.
So calm.
So perfect.
But is she alive or dead?
I turn away and continue my busywork, but I hold the nesting bird in my thoughts.
Later, when I look up again, she is gone.
My nesting bird is alive and I know she will come again.