May, Fire, Frost.

May, and I’m kicking a few pieces of firewood in my wood stove, pleasing the cats on the red rug, luxuriating in keeping the door to our glassed-in porch open, the heat pushing into this three-season (but really one-season) tiny room.

We are in the days of lengthening light, spring exuberance. The sun rises crimson. A young woodchuck grazes on the lawn, then wanders into our fire pit, curious perhaps about us humans, or simply searching.

I am a gardener; we are outright foes. But this morning, my cat Acer and I watch the woodchuck through the window beside my desk, the morning’s cool pushing in through the screen. Acer steps on my keyboard, rubs his head against my elbow, reminds me that I left him for a few weeks.

I’m still thinking of that window in the apartment where we stayed in Florence. On the tile floor, the tall window open, I watched dawn flow over the red roof tiles, the pigeons sweeping over the roofs. I live in the world of the hermit thrush, mewling catbirds, carmine cardinals. A friend tells me she plans to cover her apple tree with a bedsheet tonight, to ward off the frost. Huh, I think. May.

Consider your origin.

— Dante

In Between: Adolescence

Raw. Mothering an adolescent daughter is like ripping a scab off your soul. My daughter’s agonized questions are existential: why do people suffer? What could possibly be the answer to this? A question I have asked since my own adolescence, more and more intently with each passing decade of my life, with each new encounter I have with the multiple varieties of human suffering.

Joseph Luzzi’s In a Dark Wood chronicles his young and pregnant wife’s death in an automobile accident. Luzzi, a Dante scholar, writes: My reading of Dante had always been deep and personal, but when I found myself in a dark wood, his words became a matter of life and death.

During both my children’s births, I felt myself poised between life and death, the scrim of our everyday world pushed aside in this small, sacred space. Surely, part of the keenness of adolescence is its odd pivotal place. Half in the clouds of childhood, not yet in the forest of adulthood, adolescence, for this brief (and yet simultaneously very long) moment, spins between these two realms.