a new quiet. again.
i sometimes think it will always be stepping into the new again. it will always be let’s-see-how-this-goes. the undulations of life, a whirl of beginnings and endings and all those elevations between.
this week we packed up the joy blast who is our second miracle child, the one who’s been hovering around the dinner table for months now, patiently kindly engaging in hours-long conversation nearly every blessed night. the one who slept till nearly dusk plenty of days, and stayed up watching old films till the wee wee hours. his raccoon-like hours became a rhythm i knew. the house hummed accordingly. but he’s gone now, back at that little college on a hill in smack-dab-middle ohio, and the absence is raw still. still hurts around the edges.
and this time, there’s a new quiet at home. these will be the first new weeks without the rhythms of someone else’s work life. all these red-ringed months, the other writer in this old house got dressed for work even when work was what happened mostly up in his book-lined office across from the top of the stairs. there were deadlines and stories and headlines, too. there was chatter from the so-called newsroom, the one that had been scattered to bedrooms and nooks and crannies all across sweet chicago, wherever a scribe lived, hung his or her reporterly hat. all that has gone hushed now. not even the sound of a keyboard clackety-clacking. he had to turn in the laptop, and the long line at the apple store means you wait weeks and weeks for a board all your own.
we are a people of rhythms, me and the one who shares this old house. so i’m certain we’ll find one again.
i sometimes wonder how we got here, to this moment, so soon. sometimes look in the mirror to see if i can find the self i’ve known since she was so little, had a gap in the space between two front teeth, just enough of a space to wiggle the tip of my tongue through. the gap is long gone now, and so too plenty of other parts, lost along the way. the losses are wins some of the time. though sometimes a loss is a loss, no doubt about it. same thing with the gains. it’s subtraction and addition, all our life long.
so here we are bumbling around in an all-new quiet, a quiet like never before. as a creature of habit, of course, i’d come to count on the people we were in the everyday. and now readjusting is due. old titles are stripped, though the essence is not. it’s starting all over again and again.
good thing i’ve got typing to do, and plenty of it. i figure i’ll wriggle around inside my hours of typing while all the new rhythms appear. while i see how to fit in this new stretch of time. in the meantime, i thought i’d leave two poems here at the table, poems that put a magnifying lens to the blessings of time, of all the moments quotidian and otherwise. one is from raymond carver, you know who he is, the short story writer who happened to turn a mighty fine poem. the other is from a most blessed woman you might not have known. her name is robbie klein, and her birthday would have been yesterday, but she died a year and a half ago, “peacefully, powerfully,” as her obit in the san francisco chronicle quite emphatically put it. her poem took my breath away when she wrote it, and i asked her back then for permission to share it, to which of course she said yes.
consider how each of these beauties concentrates our focus on the blindingly brilliant blessing of the most ordinary moments of time, and how they freeze-frame the essence, so we can’t help but see its full glory.
At Least by Raymond Carver I want to get up early one more morning, before sunrise. Before the birds, even. I want to throw cold water on my face and be at my work table when the sky lightens and smoke begins to rise from the chimneys of the other houses. I want to see the waves break on this rocky beach, not just hear them break as I did all night in my sleep. I want to see again the ships that pass through the Strait from every seafaring country in the world— old, dirty freighters just barely moving along, and the swift new cargo vessels painted every color under the sun that cut the water as they pass. I want to keep an eye out for them. And for the little boat that plies the water between the ships and the pilot station near the lighthouse. I want to see them take a man off the ship and put another up on board. I want to spend the day watching this happen and reach my own conclusions. I hate to seem greedy—I have so much to be thankful for already. But I want to get up early one more morning, at least. And go to my place with some coffee and wait. Just wait, to see what’s going to happen. Moments by Robbie Klein The space behind the waterfall The reverberation after a piano key is struck The second after hanging up with one you love The instant before the match catches fire The trace when a cloud covers the sun The sliver before sleep comes The first raindrop under a tree canopy The ebbing of the waves The lightening of dawn The space between notes The bottom of the exhale The final brushstroke The first drop on the tongue The grey before snow falls The moment before his fingers touch your face
what prompts you to relish each holy hour?
*photo above is college kid’s room in rare state of clean, only because his teary-eyed mother scrubbed and scrubbed till the sting went away…..
We’re getting ready to change the rythym up over here too. Here’s John’s text from last night:
Just finished my last scheduled P-T conference -EVER! first one was in 1976. I’m heading home soon. Can you call Dengeo’s at about 6:40? I should be there about 7. Love u
Someone’s looking forward to retirement.
Be still my heart. Love the last few sentences most. My heart pounded.❤️❤️❤️
In sharing your ‘sting’ you have added skin to the ethereal feelings I’ve tried to avoid facing, but can now embrace.
“The bottom of the exhale” indeed leaves us empty for a spell, as we physically breathe out any lingering evidence of the very thing that gave meaning to this episode. At yet in doing so we are creating space for the next inhale, the inspiration of a new story, the literal expanding of lungs and potential. I give thanks for the vapor of all that created the previous rhythms in my world, and hope to draw in the new whiff with gratitude as well.
Bless you, Barbie, for your soothing words. Joannie
Oh dear gracious, your framing this in the image of breath is exquisite….I am breathing it in….❤️
Bless your high-altitude heart….
On 6-8-18, I inscribed Robbie’s poem in my commonplace book so that I might keep it always. I loved seeing it posted here again today…. Thank you for the treasures you share with us at the chair… Sending love to you and your darling fellows as you adjust to yet another new normal. xoxo
OH bless you!!! oh, honey……i have goosebumps, your institutional and encyclopedic memory……you melt me. xoxoxoxo it is double the joy knowing you too have tucked away Robbie’s treasure. may her memory forever be a blessing, as she was so emphatically in the whole of her life….
Thank you. You often bring good tears – your prose and the poems touched me again today.
thanks, sweetheart. sorry i didn’t see this till just now (been deep underwater with all that typing i mentioned), and not sure why ol’ wordpress didn’t recognize an old friend. xoxox
Flooded with love for the little girl in the mirror, with a gap between her teeth, “long gone now, and so too plenty of other parts, lost along the way.”
And: ” it’s subtraction and addition, all our life long.” What truth!
I have been relishing chapters of Motherprayer just before bed–my salve before sleep. All my love to you and your beautiful, beautiful family!
OH honey!! that just sent me to the moon, the thought of the beautiful dancer poet turning the pages of the book of my heart. what pure joy to find you here. sending love late in this night. xoxoxoxox
“it’s subtraction and addition, all our life long.” Hoo, boy, that’s for sure.
What prompts me to relish each moment? Most times it’s as simple as looking across the kitchen table and feeling so lucky that he is still there, having survived.
Joyce R taught me an important lesson as we left a friend’s funeral many years ago. When I commented that she had been to too many of these recently, she replied, “It’s all part of the deal!“ When I asked her to expand, she said that it only hurts because we loved them so much, and weren’t we lucky to have had them in our lives (I am paraphrasing).
Always cherish being here at the table with such beloved souls. (And…thought I had posted this earlier…hope this one makes it thru the ether!)
oh, honey, i love the simple yet everything glance across the table. and all the volumes that holds.
someone whispered me that very same line as the one Joyce R whispered to you in the cavernous ache after my sweet papa died. it became a lifeline in the months i was unmoored…..i could sustain the pain in knowing it was in some impossible way a measure of the limitless love…..
bless you for all your years at this table. your chair has your name on it in indelible ink….xoxo
A concentrated series of personal setbacks, falls and crises trained me TO LIVE AND BREATHE IN THE NOW. Simply put in 2019 and 2020 I was forced by circumstances to become completely existential—I couldn’t afford to look back — or ahead — this moment became IT!!!! My extremities (situation) taught me to surrender to NOW. What a place to be!
This insight helped with my recent cancer concerns— I simply stayed focused waiting in the now — and the report: NO CANCER.
THANK YOU FELLOW CHAIRS
FOR YOUR PRAYERS.
Beautiful M! Indeed being in the crucible compresses our senses to the Now! Wondered about asking if we could update the chairs on the incredible odyssey that after two CT scans, two biopsies, and two months pointed toward the holy hallelujah that this was that rare revelation that “shocked” the oncologist!! Prayers answered, indeed! ❤️❤️❤️
Ditto! (Although those tears come pretty easily these days.)
Miss you both! 💙💛
oh, sweet angel, i cannot tell you what joy it brings me to find you here at the table. always, always, one of those in this world whom i have loved with all my heart.
sending love marshfield way xoxox