Monday, January 31, 2011

Red in White

Now this! A small girl with black hair and brown laughing eyes entered the room- the room, white- except for one red vase that sat like a big plum on the mantle. Then, she broke the vase – on purpose – high kicking it with her foot wrapped as it was in a striped sock.

So, she stood still the way deer do when the crack of a small twig (or the approach of a wolf) penetrates their sanctity.

With one hand, then the other, she lifted the tumbled vase back onto its base. She returned three vibrant shards to their places near the rim. Then she left, chased by the bounce of her own giggle as it followed her through the off-white doorway.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Upper Trail

Of the lower part of the trail, I knew every shrub and stone- where bees had tucked their hive years before, where young people chased each other and made love in the river bed below, where once, a friend, drunk, came close to falling. I had pulled him upright and carried him much of the way down.

Swelter, rain, wet, cold, awake, dreaming. Where I had walked and how I had walked – I thought of this all as the all. Then came the rounding and an unexpected ascent that exposed miles of still higher trail exposed in sun, thinner air, and bends unknown. A soot gray lizard shot in front of my shoes. Had this pass been here forever? How was it that I had not found it until now?

I retraced the line of memory for just that day, the events that brought me to this point. A light breakfast, coffee, stepping one leg at a time into my jeans and pulling on familiar boots. A church bell marked time as I began my climb as it had for more than a century.

But there, at the foot of the next passage, my thoughts popped and I heard the pound of my heart as it pushed blood through my inner ears. So this is where it starts, I heard myself say. And with all that had gone before, I had come only as far as this starting point- with the sun more than half way across the sky.

Not one second more for looking back.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Window on the South Side

Three of us worked together that day to cut a new window into this old house. Two watched as the third hoisted saw and laid teeth against the wall, making splintered chalk of lathe and plaster. The geometry of a rectangular opening began to form.

You buzzed through the last increment while the two of us held our hands against the lathe. Then, as the shape came loose, we lowered it and examined the dark insides now exposed – studs, tar from paper applied during construction,nails, exterior siding, and the smell of dank air long trapped between outside and in.

When the last splinters of two studs came away, we were left with the house’s original siding. You jammed the saw through a small starter hole and began punching and chewing through board after board. A rectangle of sunshine formed from left to right, down and across.

Then, as if the house inhaled in surprise, this rectangle of wood fell inward. We caught it, set it down and stood in the dusty room. Quiet morning poured in with sweet grass smells. Two oaks stood just outside where they had been for a hundred years. In the distance, the valley unfolded, smoky, still shaded in early sun, waking up.

Light spoke, air moved inside, then out. We ran our fingers along the rough edges where the new window would go, and looked on at the hillside and a sunrise that had been warming up this piece of land from the beginning.