So much waits for the hands of a woman, and such vast whiteness and the whiteness of silence, perhaps it is silence I need, and will need again and to shut out the light, crawl under my comforter; it is a day for self-comforting, pulling in, returning to hibernation, just for a time, finding some direction. Hobbling through my house, I slice red potatoes for breakfast, peel the avocado grown tired of waiting. Snow dusts the juniper hedges, the washer and dryer next door put forth no reassuring hum, no one else awake; are they all lost, or dead behind their locked doors, have I imagined neighbors….
In my dream my father and I are in a hot car in the desert; the painted desert, the telephone poles leaning like civil war wounded in formation, lining the highway ahead, ninety miles to gasoline or water, he says I need to rest; be my look out and in my red t-shirt and shorts, I sit in the car, watching hawks glide on currents, riding downdrafts, sailing back up with prey I cannot see.
He drowses and dozes and there is nothing to be done but to wait, in the silence, to watch over him; it is my job to be sure that something doesn’t crash out of the sky toward us, to warn him of a band of outlaws or a mountain lioness, apaches on war horses, gun runners… but finally he wakes… and I wake, still speaking to him what did I say to him, what were my child’s words: wake, Father wake. Be a father, I was bait for the wolves.
I don’t know if we were safe in the cabins, the adobes, no I know we were not, the chink of the ice into the glasses, the furtive return from the liquor store, the ritual making of the drink the holy communion that began in the living room, the rising of voices, the making of wounds.
In our room we held each other; I rocked you and kissed away your tears, and read to you. I went out to the adobe wall with Uncle Pierce’s calvary saddle and saddled up the wall and climbed up, you followed me and I held you in front me, imaginary reins in one hand, my arm around you; they would, she would leave us alone out there, as she drank, she would become a child and he would tend her he would bend over her tenderly even if she had hit him or spit upon him, my father, and he would carry her in and put her to bed, sit with her and I would hold you, rocking you in the darkness; I had stowed our childhood in fading boxes under the bed: the books, the rubber dinosaurs, the tin of watercolors, and when the house filled with water, you and I floated to the surface, swam hard, swam out into life with what we could carry, eagle hatchlings together, setting each other free.
My oeuvre is these things, these things and myths, the mythologies of absence and the history of neglect but we rise and go now with our grey hair, with our easels and computers and dreams condensed to wafers we pop under our tongues…..what medicine do you take, my dear one, off in the mountains, gone on, away from me..
Here, a choir singing Bach because Bach presses on; in a surge of tenderness I hide the lost mare and foal’s mane in the family bible, with the wildflowers. Sweet coffee this day won’t invigorate nor will the sugar crystallize into energy or the voice, a voice a woman’s voice a woman living alone’s voice rise into the silence except to tell the dog that not at this minute I can’t throw the ball the old I can’ts, the bathroom floor waiting for a sweeping, the romaine wilting in the fridge; someone must eat it, the fruits and vegetables gone to ruin.
Last night a man walking in the dark and snow without any beacon, walking down the road, shrouded who was that where was he going and what if I had gone after him, old inveterate rescuer that I am, extracting a house-man or a husband out of the wild dark, veering off the road of my life, off a cliff:
Be careful when you wake up the past this way: tread lightly because floodlights will come on and bleeding ghosts fall out of the stands and there will be old rivers to cross solely on the theory that you can swim.
You, my dear, are an excellent swimmer. I am not. Perhaps that is why I let the past continue to sleep! 🙂
Good stuff, Jenne. ~p
These vignettes are beautiful. Thank you for finding me; I’m very glad to have discovered your blog. I look forward to digging into it further.
Thanks very much: likewise! xj