Days of Afternoon Sun and Insects

Late afternoon, insects — hundreds, nay, thousands — hovered over the soccer field, mixed in with dust motes and seed chaff.

The teenage girl snapping photos for the yearbook said, Gross. The parent beside me marveled at the teeming life. Bat food.

The other parent and I exchanged random bits — traffic in Waterbury, a small write-up in the local paper, why our country can send a man to the moon but hasn’t created decent birth control. Little bits of our own, bat-esque food.

How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.

— Rilke

IMG_6424.jpg

 

Loon Piece, State 14

Having never lived in a large city — or any city at all, really — I don’t know the social lay of the land, or the complex paths of how people know each other.

In my small world of Vermont, I now write monthly for the online State 14, and my short essays are often paired with the incredibly talented Nathanael Asaro. His mother sold her handmade soap beside our maple syrup and root beer float booth at the Stowe Farmers Market, and we spent an awful lot of hours — sweaty, shivering, or under perfect skies — talking and laughing.

My friend has long since quit the soapmaking and finished law school. I’ve quit the syrup business and moved on, too. But here’s a connection between the two of us surfacing again.

Dome_Greensboro_Bend

Nathanael Asaro

A Creamy Moon…

… rose over the hillside. Like a surprise, the moon simply appeared.

All day long it often seems, I go about moving things — words, dishes, weeds. Laundry from the line to the basket. My own sometimes tired bones. Then the moon, rising infinitely serene and wise.

After a late soccer game, the girls sat at table outside, the air abruptly cooling as the sun began to sink. The girls kept eating strawberries, shortcake, whipped cream. A forkful dropped on the table.

There you are, my daughter said to the moon, laughing. A hello from her to this heavenly sphere. July.

66846556_10156557408616270_5838390328125554688_n

White Mountains. Hiking with my brother. Photo by Jess.

Duck Joy

My daughter calls two ducks besides the April-fat river Mrs. and Mr. Duck — Out For an Evening Swim.

A brown female the hue of last year’s fallen leaves. The male’s garish, jade head reminds me of the unmistakable hue of Japanese beetles.

Nothing more — nothing earth-shattering — merely those two ducks easing into the muddy river, the frothy current quickly ferrying them around a bend and beyond our sight.

And yet I keep thinking back to that duck couple, a poem in motion, in no need at all of my fond wishes or thoughts.

Don’t say my hut has nothing to offer:
come and I will share with you
the cool breeze that fills my windows.

— Ryōkan

IMG_5241.jpg

Easter bouquet

Rapture

Everyone was outside today. In all her golden beauty, Spring returned. I left my library door open, with a few patrons in charge, and walked down the dirt road to post a sign about state reps coming to visit the library in a few weeks.

The melodies of blackbirds followed me.

Rapture, as near as can be…. all afternoon, my nearly 14-year-old daughter and I were out, in a day so suddenly hot.  Yes, she’s a teen and wonders why I gnaw the edge of my thumb, there’s blue paint on the edge of my t-shirt, and is possible that I’ve shrunk? I say the word necklace with the wrong intonation of vowel. The knees of my jeans are stained, possibly with coffee.

And yet, on this particular day, I can see clearly how strange a creature I am in her eyes — who is this strange woman and how did she birth me? Likewise, I wonder, who is this miraculous not-girl and not-woman, and how did I birth her?

For the moment, though, there’s this afternoon, there’s just the two of us — as much rapture as I’ll likely ever deserve in this life.

We must risk delight….
We must admit there will be music despite
everything.

— Jack Gilbert, “A Brief for the Defense”

IMG_5179

Rain Patter

In our former house, the pink Owens-Corning insulation had been so shredded by mice in the ceiling that we could easily hear rain on the metal roof — a pleasant sound, although the resulting winter cold didn’t match that coziness.

Our house now is cool in the summers, warm or certainly warm-ish in the winters, the most well-insulated house I’ve ever lived in, and I’m darn grateful for that, all the way around. Last night, I opened my daughter’s window so she could hear the sound of the rain. Her cat jumped up on the sill, his nose pressed against her screen, curious about what was happening in the night. We haven’t heard the rain for a very long time now — a few aberrant storms in the winter — but this steady rain promised the chirping peepers will return.

Nearly 40 degrees out, I left the window open a few inches so my daughter could lie in bed, reading and listening to the rain.

On the other side of her wall, I read an article in The New Yorker about lost notebooks in Egypt. The sap will be running all night.

IMG_5022.jpg