Gifts

A friend leaves a dozen eggs and a stick on our back porch. She instructs my daughter to put that stick in water.

Doubtfully, my daughter sets the unassuming brown branch in a glass of water on our kitchen table. Really? she asks me.

I tell her it’s a twig from a Daphne bush she’s walked by countless times. When it blooms in that water, you’ll be amazed. I promise her this.

Here’s Adrienne Rich’s poetry for the soul, forwarded from my father.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

 

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Memory, Body

In the middle of the night, I’m awake thinking of myself, years ago at 30, standing at the roundabout in Montpelier between Main Street and Route 12, baby on my back, trying to figure out where my life—where our lives—would go. It was October then, 1999, and the news amped Y2K fears.

Every time I walk along that section of street in Vermont’s capital city, I think of that cold autumn’s crepuscular hour, as if I pass through its shadow again. The notion of linear time is supercilious. Walking with a friend in the Hardwick town forest, we talk about our 13-year-old daughters. Both of us mothers now, long past adolescence—and yet, we’re both 13. Our conversation crackles with memory.

That baby on my back is now 20. No one but myself will ever remember that evening. And yet, there it is: always with me.

Women have been driven mad, “gaslighted,” for centuries by the refutation of our experience and our instincts in a culture which validates only male experience. The truth of our bodies and our minds has been mystified to us. We therefore have a primary obligation to each other: not to undermine each others’ sense of reality for the sake of expediency; not to gaslight each other.

— Adrienne Rich

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Februrary sunbathing….