Light and Dark

Image 2 - Version 2  I make no secret of the fact that I love where I live, and cherish it.  It’s a great blessing to me to look out my kitchen windows and see the lake that has played such a big part in my life.  If there is such a thing as mindless meditation, then I often am provoked to it, just staring out these windows.

Today, in our cove, the lake is that greenblack color – not the bottle green tipped with a hint of gray when the clouds and sun dance together on its surface.  This green is inkier, and the way the waves are moving just now all slow and languid, it is easy to imagine it viscous and even warm.

Image 1 - Version 2

Further out, peering at the merging main channel, all is some version of gray: dark water leads to a bright silvery line of mist on the far shore, up to a charcoal stand of trees, and up further still to the mop water clouds.

When I watch the lake move like today, I wonder if it’s all simply the force of wind and rain, or whether the old river’s current has it stirring all the way to its red muddy bottom, knocking loose the skeletons of the farms and homesteads underwater now – old tractors, barn remnants, rusted milk buckets, lockets, lies, guns, betrayals …

Image - Version 2Having lived near this lake most of my life, I love it and fear it.  It’s not the annual tales of the sighting of a hopelessly lost alligator, or the stories about the “catfish as big as a man” that scare me.  It’s the things men do, and have always done, that they bury deep, that might be buried deep right out there right now.  Deep, but stirring …

Besides that, what am I supposed to wear?

Today is February 24th.  It is 72 degrees and muggy, and there are flying insects swarming and dancing above my front yard.  This is not the kind of winter day that inspires a poem.  It inspires a head scratch.  It’s just plain weird.  Got me grasping at my roots…

Last Winter

Damn cold.
My bones’ wrappings rendered worthless
and the chill goes all the way through.
I marvel that my blood doesn’t thicken
and slow in my very veins.
But here it is December
and the air is as it should be:
stinging and cracking.
The Indian Summer, another typical Carolina autumn,
has abandoned us just of late –
stayed right up through Thanksgiving.
My fingers are blue.
Thank God for Mammaw’s quilt.
Continue reading “Besides that, what am I supposed to wear?”

Here We Are Again

April is poetry month, and I find that wholly appropriate, moreso this year than ever before (do I say this every year?).  In the region where I live, April is a changeable month, duplicitous almost.  It has its warm, promising, lush green days, punctuated with the slate-gray, cold, wet remnants of March.  It is exciting; it is a time that cries out for renewed passion; it is forlorn; it is a time that calls for caution.  A person with a weather eye learns to manage expectations, to ration his or her hopefulness, to maintain contact with reality while still dreaming of new possibilities.

April is poetry. Continue reading “Here We Are Again”

Ready or Not. Ready is Better.

I am preparing to celebrate my daughter’s graduation from high school tomorrow (read: I am a wreck).  Tensions are high.  Reflections are many.  Conversations are, well, just strange.  The destination is the tearful and sloppy “We’re proud of you … we love you … thank you” that we will experience tomorrow.  The journey is not as simple.

I was thinking this morning about how this graduation is a shared milestone; then, I realized that phrase is redundant.  All milestones are shared.  We have instinctively known and celebrated that fact since ancient times.  Rites of passage are for the individual.  Rites of passage are for the family.  Rites of passage are for the community.  With every major rite of passage, there are minor ones that are associated.  In this case, the graduate is entering a new phase of life; the parents are entering a new phase of life; the community is receiving its new members. It’s like tilling the soil between the dying of a crop and the next planting; and tilling is hard work.

One thing I have learned in my own experience is that if a rite of passage is not fully embraced and celebrated, if it is not done right, sputtering and stumbling follow.  The individual, the family and the community will embrace and celebrate the rite differently.  Somehow, I alternate between feeling prepared and feeling ambushed.  It isn’t like I didn’t know this was coming.  I am filled with the fear that I’m not doing this right. And there is the mother’s mantra.

As I type this post, Tracy Chapman sings in the background, “I’m ready. I’m ready/I’m ready to let the/ rivers wash over me.”  It’s from a playlist my daughter created.  Okay, then.  I’m ready too.  That doesn’t mean I can or will be “together” tomorrow (I am praying for at least a scintilla of dignity, however!).  It just means in the midst of our tears, there will be release and celebration. And indescribable joy.  It’s time to plant.  Or go with the flow.  Pick your analogy.  It’s time for all of us to move.  You too.

I can say I have done my best.  I can also say my best wasn’t very good all the time.  Where I have failed, she has shined.  Where I have failed, she will forgive.  Where I have failed, I have also loved.  Always. Continue reading “Ready or Not. Ready is Better.”