just in time. just in the sweet holy nick of time.
just when you think the sides of your ribs are going to cave in, what with the hollow feeling inside. just when the gray-upon-gray gets to be downright bleak and not just moody, you walk out the door, maybe for some innocent, nearly archaic little chore–say, plucking the newspaper from down by the curb; who knew how suddenly that would seem quaint, going the way of the milkman, the knife sharpener, the man who sold brushes right at your door?
so there you are, minding your mind, traipsing along, trying to steer the toe of your slipper out of the way of the crash-course of mush that once was snow but now is all crusty and dingy and rather the hue of a staid banker’s trousers.
it’s then, somewhere mid-step, when suddenly the bright morning light is utterly shattered.
it’s papa, the bright crimson cardinal, the savior of so many graces. he is on high, and he’s warbling, all right and almighty.
he is belting out his sweet hallelujah, letting the notes land and melt on your near-frozen heart.
what he’s doing, in fact, is yodeling for chicks. uh-huh, that’s just what it is. it’s high time for hormones out there in the bird world, and just the same as if he was down at a corner on chicago’s boul mich, or smack dab in the thick of new york’s times square, and instead of a placard, front and back, “calling all girls,” he struts out his stuff with the cords in his throat.
he sings, darn it.
he sings so loud and so clear, and so stunningly vernally, you can’t help but spin on your spongey old slippers, and turn your eyes to the highest of heights.
he’s up there somewhere you know. you can hear him, all right. he’s waking the dead, for heavenly sake. or surely the tired, the ones who like you are just about run out of steam, who think just as you did the winter before that the spring never will come.
heck, you’re starting to think even the daffodil is folly, the figment of some fictional mind, and this year perhaps it might not come true, might not break through the crust of the earth after all. merely the stuff of fairy tales and make believe and frogs that turn into princes.
but you hear that bird, darn it. he is speaking to you, as much if not more than to all of the girl birds up in the limbs.
he is shouting down from wherever he is: do not despair, lady. yo, you in the fuzzy, coffee-stained slippers, there is reason for hope. don’t abandon your life raft.
you, the one with the duly-splotched fuzzies, you stand there, not minding one bit that your knees are now knocking from cold, and your arms are covered in goosebumps so big and so juicy it looks like you just stepped out of the pluckery, the place where the feathers are plucked from the hens that would be.
you stand there, you do, letting each one of his high notes, his song of the launch of the season, sink into each of your over-plumped pores.
the cardinal, you know, answers to a much higher light. he’s tied to the slant of the sun, yes he is. and he knows, way before you do, that just beyond this snow-crusted horizon, there is hope rising.
hope in the form of grass that’ll turn easter-grass green again. bulbs underground that’ll shove through the mud, reach for the clouds. maybe even unfurl, spread their petals, for crying out loud.
papa knows all that.
so you, the one who needs once again to remember, you stand there, rapt, paying attention.
you drink up his high notes, his middle notes and any old note in between.
he’s up there–you’ve spotted him now, on the highest darn branch in the landscape–he’s up there announcing the news: all is not this. faith, be not abandoned. you can’t see it at all, but good news is pulling out of the shed, hitchin’ the wagon. any old week now, you might start to feel zippier.
it is these nearly-missed moments, the folded-up notes tucked and dropped on the way, the treasure hunt that is the living of life, gretel’s crumbs in the woods, these are the things that keep us on course.
if we pause. pay attention. drink in the cups that are offered.
we can live by the squawks from the box. or the words on the pages that land on our stoop.
or, if we choose, we can align our ships with a whole other north star.
we can live by sunlight streaming in at a particular angle, little shoots poking through the tired old earth. or papa belting it out from on high.
papa who tells us in so many words: fill your lungs with my song, folks. it’s the song of the season to come. it’s the song that’ll carry you home.
some dreary mornings, it’s a bird on a branch who makes all the difference.
some days writing comes in fits and starts. some days i think it’s time to throw in the towel, take up auto mechanic-ing, maybe. or maybe get a job swirling the foam in someone’s grande skim latte. but then, i wander over here, and roll up my sleeves, and play games on the keyboard. i don’t worry too much ‘bout spinning in circles or darting in and out of the point. if to write is to roll up your pant legs and splash in the puddles, well, then i just got all sloppy wet again. by the day i feel more and more obsolete. just yesterday i sat in a meeting where a very young someone extolled the virtues of a new form of “writing.” well, no one called it writing, and it’s not really. you’re only allowed 140 strokes of the keys. then time’s up. your twitter is done. this, we were told, is the future. and i sat there feeling quite old. obsolete. heck, whatever happened to whole sentences, remember those ones that we’d diagram, with all the chutes and the ladders? so maybe my hours are numbered. maybe the paragraph is a thing of the past. thank you then, if you’ve stopped for a visit, for going along with the future of obsolescence. thank you for reading the winding road of a soul who has always found words the surest cure for what ails me, the only way i know how to pray. thanks for stopping by, here on the day of the red bird’s new song.
have you felt the stirrings of hope on the horizon? do tell.