There we were, the two of us, lying in a meadow reading migrating cumulus clouds, sure that if we spoke the words, they would have wings. Today off the coast of Miami, ten wild dolphins will leap out of the water at once in a line. In Ohio, all eight newborn puppies from the same litter will grow up to become guide dogs for the blind. From coast to coast, children will be allowed to be children until they have the hearts of children forever. So across America, stars will catch on gossamer webs – spiders spinning madly through the night to keep them. And Africa will be an hour away, the Alps – just up the road, and Hong Kong – a day’s journey distant.
True to itself, the brook is sky. Rain blurs reflections of trees, of farmland, of me. My heart recalls a life becoming: wearing my pajamas to the drive-in each Saturday night…Georgie, our Newfoundland, lying down in this brook as the water flowed around him…new summer dawns in which to sleep late…fussing over the cattails growing tall…splashing, hollering, racing with cousins on this property. This brook saw my first kiss with a boy. Rain begins to fall harder sketching grayed ghosts of barns and silos in the distance. I came today hoping to find a piece of my past. True to itself, the brook became every childhood memory.
There is this place one block away that my dog tells me he’s fond of, and so we go. He recommends the vanilla cup, so I play along. I tell him not to get brain freeze when he eats too fast. He tells me that’s the only way he can enjoy it. When he looks at me funny, I know it’s brain freeze. I ask, “Why do we come here?” He says, “See, there’s this poodle named Lulu Romero…” “Oh! Love!” I say. “Shhhh! Here she comes!” She’s cute and wears this fancy collar. I start saving my money for vanilla cups and rhinestones.
No god walks here among the plethora of ice-snapped branches and sulky grey underbrush. Trees hold trees like the wounded are carried in battle. The storm has swept the limbs arthritic. Through miles of aftermath, the sun is setting a pale rose hue, so none forget there will be flowers, so not one soul questions spring will arrive. My day is reborn. Don’t tell me to sleep when buttercups have found their way into the gloaming.
Dirt and salt sift onto the main road from the back of an old passing county truck. It stops for a red light, and a small mound of salty dirt forms at the intersection. There’ll be no hurrying to cross the side streets tonight. They won’t receive aid for hours. Passing an apartment complex that has put down salt, I stop to grind my boots into the heavy patches, looking for some little insurance on my walk home. Concrete is in evidence in tiny circles around the larger crystals that stand alone. I think of being a young woman in snow, the fallen flakes collecting on my long lashes, before one thousand winters passed, back when the act of falling was followed closely by – in love.
Mine was an impoverished neighborhood that knew more of crime than beauty. But standing alone above all, one bird was a choir of the ephemeral with melodies altogether unreasonably beautiful, the essence of improvisation. Seeming without end, each new song related to the last by way of the inexplicable – this swollen stream, this timely shelter, this fine theft of a morning in April. It took all I had to gather myself and return to my day. As those moments passed, I knew I couldn’t hold in memory what I promised myself never to forget.
The onion bagels there are to the max, and the cream cheese doesn’t fight with you. You get a free bagel for every twelve you buy – they punch your ticket. The guy behind the counter says, “Hey, Hon!” like I’m walking in the house from work, and he got home before me. On Thursday nights, they’re open ’til 9pm and the owner’s gone home. That’s when handsome gives me a free buttered bagel with egg and sausage patty. After closing, I nurse my second cup of tea while he sweeps up.