Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Learning to Speak

1. Yes, I am convinced by now that God speaks—all day, all night—in a stream of beauty and oddities, in kindness, in the words of friends and strangers, and also in pain, in shake-up, in freak occurrence—anything that cracks the veneer we seem so fond of. There was a time I could not pray words, at all. Had nothing but some kind of silent reaching, and looking, and listening, hoped that what I had could be enough. If I could see one beautiful thing, or enter into a phrase of music that reached for heaven, or hear words from a friend or a book that touched the rawest, hurt places, I could take that personally. Maybe God was not silent. Maybe I could listen more carefully. Maybe I could learn better the language I was hearing the most. It is a delicate, difficult language—

2. We visited Oldest at music camp and after four weeks finally got to hear him talk and talk. It was the most comforting wonderful sound. I took pictures of him, even though he did not want me to—couldn't help it. Mostly I took them from the side or behind, but in one picture he is looking straight at me, part pained, part perplexed. Why, Mom? When we hugged him goodbye (two more weeks) and left I was not crushed—only because he told us things. At the parent meeting on the first day of camp, we were given advice: You are not doing anything interesting. There is nothing going on at home, you are not having an amazing vacation without your child. You do not need to encourage homesickness, and your sons and daughters need to focus fully on what they are doing here. I am trying to follow this advice, remembering that “We miss you” gets boring, anyway. I send texts and pictures: oddities, funny happenings, shared memories. Translation: I love you. I am here, always. Recently it dawned on me what language I am speaking.

3. It is a tricky one, this language. Delicate, difficult—language of giraffe’s eye, seed fluff, spark—language of lifted veils and torn curtains. Language of accumulation: snowflake-upon-snowflake, word-upon-word, phrase-upon-phrase. Tear-upon-tear and kindness-upon-kindness. The stars speak it fluently, also the very old, and the very young. And trees, their arms forever lifted. I am only learning, the syllables clumsy on my tongue but also round, smooth. Phrases catch in my head, circle softly, carve deep. I hear them in dreams, they fall at my feet. Listen, and listen. Finally venture a word here and there, cringing at my own accent: beads of honey, hints of salt. 

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Into the Wind and Back

I have been on vacation. Enjoying family and friends, conversation and quiet. Birch and pine trees, and the cry of loons, and camp songs. I reached the top of the climbing wall I wasn’t strong enough for last year. I went out one afternoon, alone, in a kayak—set my eyes on an old friend of a landmark and did not stop paddling until I reached it, promising myself an easy return trip with the wind at my back.

Working the kayak
against waves, against wind,
baptized over and over
with each roll of water—
cross-rhythms of paddle and wave,
cotton-cloud and spray:
this is all,

The trip back is longer—
I cannot find my rhythm.
Over and over
my thumbs catch
between boat and oar.
Only the splash of water is familiar,
drops gleaming warm
on my arms, my legs.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015


1. I texted Oldest at camp this evening about the storm that blew through before dinner:

Both Dad and I called out to the girls (from different parts of the house) to go to the basement at the exact same time. We lost a few branches and the roof lost some shingles, but otherwise everything was fine. The girls found this guy on our window afterwards—thought the storm blew him in, maybe.
Hidden deep within those words, or not so deep, were other words. Silent. Tucked into the memory of the other moths we have found as a family: luna, prometheus, sphinx:

I miss you. Your absence is exactly what it should be and I can handle it, but there is this constant ache.

2. Last week I visited the city that will always feel like home. Spent time with old friends and new, visited as many favorite places as I could. Showed Husband where you could get bakery samples big enough to double as dessert. Walked and talked and explored with a friend from high school and her young boy, noticed how much of the time he kept one hand touching her as he explored the world.

Underneath: companionship. Veins of it running deep, silent sometimes—even for decades—and yet they are there.

3. Found this the day before we left for home. I appreciate a gentle subversiveness. Underneath is a story: the impulse(s?) to leave one’s mark, to surprise, to change things.

I am doing my best to pay attention.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Now that I'm on vacation and can finally think—

There is much to be said
for taking note of how things land,
for finding weakness and strength
in all the wrong places,
for taking the universe
but not that last conversation.

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