No Virgins

No Virgins

There were 20 minutes when no one was there.
Not on the beach.
Not in the water.
Not across the pond.

I strip down in an instant
and dive into the September waters
without compassion
and daringly continue out
toward our town
the altar of summer.

I lift myself onto the dock
and lie there
under the sun,
one middle-aged breast
deflating to each side.
No virgin offering
to this lasting day of summer.

And before I hear a car door slam
or the crunch of a stick underfoot,
I slip off the dock
and make my way back through the cool water to the shore.

I wrap myself in a towel,
and stand at the water’s edge
to let the sun kiss my face,
in communion with the stillness
of water
of Everything.

Just then, a head appears,
out of the soft ripples I left behind.
It’s the one we’ve watched grow from a chick on his mother’s back
to being left behind by the mating pair to come of age on his own.

The loon and I regard one another,
and then he dives under the water again,
and I sit down with a book.

Russ and Andi appear
in their beach chairs
behind me
in the grass.

And together
we hold the silence
of the eternal moment…
of this summer day

Until we’re startled by a flock of geese
who lift from the banks
and swoop across our view,
and circle the pond
and rise over the mountains

Heading south.


country mouse, part III, street parking success!

country mouse, part III, street parking success!

(Part III of a week in the “city” for CSW59)

One last day of street parking–without a ticket or a tow (albeit tons of tension)–and we made it!

Not only that, but for a moment, we were in the tribe…

On our last opposite-side parking adventure, we found a spot almost too good to be true; but then we spotted it… another fire hydrant. (You don’t realize how many hydrants there are until you try to street park.)

We pulled in anyway, thinking/hoping we were far enough away; which was impossible to ascertain given that the markings on the curb were buried in ice and snow. But then another car pulled in front of us, and another car in front of him, and we figured we had to be safe.

When we first considered opposite side parking, my naiveté led me to miscalculate just how many times we’d have to relocate the car. Twice a week, I thought, that’s not too bad. But what I hadn’t figured was the exponential effect of both sides having the twice a week bans.

It wasn’t until the last morning that we noticed how the city folks strategized this equation when we realized that each parked car had a driver in it.

People apparently doubled parked until the street sweeper passed and then pulled back into their spots and waited inside their cars until the 90 minute parking ban was complete.

(Worth noting: the “street sweeper” this time of year is a guy with a shovel or jack hammer or miniature front loader, and plenty of potential parking spots require 4 wheel drive to climb atop the frozen mounds of snow.)

A moment later, a man dressed in a chef’s apron got out of the car closest to the hydrant and proceeded to knock on each of our windows, asking if we’d move back a bit. We all happily complied, even the woman behind us, who had been napping beside her small white dog.

It’s these tiny moments of tenderness that astound me in a city that appears tough and insular. The man in the apron smiled his appreciation and got back into his car as we all waited out the minutes, together.

At the stroke of 10:00 am, a string of car doors opened.

There were no greetings, or smiles, but there was a palpable sense of communion in our footsteps.

(click here for: country mouse, part I AND country mouse, part II.)

Blueberry Communion

Blueberry Communion

On Sunday mornings in deep summer, we stroll up MacArthur Road to the farm stand atop the hill. Our walk is canopied by lush green until we arrive under the bright expanse of sky–for the morning service.

Each parishioner, barefoot or sandaled in the grass, takes communion from the tray beside the coffee pot: a golden scone filled with juicy goodness.

Today’s choice is raspberry or blueberry; the latter having just ripened on the hill.

I am not fit for company this morning, so I tuck a scone into my basket, and head into the field under the netting where the berries grow.

I cannot pluck a single berry without slipping into the past–falling in beside my great-grandmother Mildred in Delaware–picking and packing and canning and freezing to last us through winter.

Today, it seems I can’t pick at all. My husband has slipped in beside me and works diligently at a single bush, while I bob from plant to plant, taking in the shades of blue and purple and black, in communion with Nana.

The dew on the berries lightens the impact of yesterday’s trauma: A diving accident. A cat scan. 16 stitches. Blood pouring down my son’s face as he emerges from the pond.

This morning he is reborn. Prancing down the stairs, dressed in white, claiming, “I might as well wear something nice since I can’t do anything to get dirty.”

At 16, his life is temporarily restricted by this injury; but at 47, I feel undone, not just by what happened but what could have happened.

As my husband fills a basket with berries for breakfast, I pluck, as our youngest once did–nibbling my way through the patch–letting the sweetness of the last day of July soften my spirit on this Sunday morning.