After walking the dirt half-mile from the highway, he arrives in the house, drops his backpack and removes his shirt, saying that the temperature was higher today than it was supposed to be. (In the chill of the early June morning, he chose to wear a long sleeve shirt to school.)
“Lately, I resent men going topless,” I say.
“Do you want me to put it back on,” he asks.
I remember my mother’s scoldings as a girl: “Put a shirt on!”
And later, about the age my son is now: “Put a bra on!”
The accumulation of shame.
As the temperatures rise in these Green Mountains, I feel anger rise in me when I see men walking the road–aged men and young men like my son–each one topless–as if all the space in the world is theirs, without a care for who might rape them.
Songs about September already make me wince.
The red of the maple buds on the hillside catch in my chest.
It’s not even Solstice yet.
This must be what it is to grow old
To know the ending, inside
To feel the loss
embraced by the gift.
My husband took this photo of me when we were out at a cafe last summer which is a rare feat. Not the cafe, which is a regular feature of our weekends now that the kids are aging out of our lives, but the photo. He rarely thinks of photography and so we have albums filled with family photos relatively absent of my existence, except for the annual shot of me lighting the birthday cake for one of my boys.
“You look so pretty today,” he said, “Can I have your phone?”
I always believe him, but then I look in the mirror or at a photo and it’s just me. Nothing special. Or more often worse than I imagined or hoped for, like this one.
I really didn’t like this photo, and I still don’t like it, but you know what, I don’t mind it now like I did before, and it’s only been a year.
I take this as a good sign because typically it’s like a decade before I appreciate a photo that I really didn’t like at first.