Last night, I woke, as I often do these days,
no longer drenched, but misted,
with a fine release–of attachment, I suppose.
Behind my knees and under my
shoulders and also between my breasts;
and lately even, in the crook of my
arms, as if I’ve been carrying too much;
and just this week, tiny beads of sweat, dripping.
down. my. spine.
Refining, I suppose,
Only this night,
I remain awake, and feel something
more–a lightening inside–so very light–
my bones–that i think to myself…
There were 20 minutes when no one was there.
Not on the beach.
Not in the water.
Not across the pond.
But I didn’t know there were 20 minutes then.
I strip down in an instant
and dive into the water
and daringly continue out
toward our town
the altar of summer
And 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
into these September waters
and swim back to the shore
and wrap myself in a towel
and let the sun kiss my face
and turn to commune with the stillness
Just as a loon appears
out of the ripples I left behind
I want to tug only on those things that are truly ripe. I want to let everything else take its sweet time. (Virgo New Moon, Wise Harvest, Dana Gerhardt)
As an adult, I’ve never been an author of fiction, and yet I remember delighting in it on Thursday mornings in the 4th grade where each of us got to put her hand into a packet of prompts: one for characters, one for setting, and one for plot–and then get to imagining!
I loved the surprise of it. Not knowing what strips I would get. Not knowing what story would unfold.
It’s the same with the writing I do now; even though I harvest the strips from my own life: this quote about the Virgo New Moon at the top of the page for instance, and this vision that has been rippling in my mind’s eye of my mother on the front steps of my first house in Vermont, 20 years ago.
I’m not sure how or if they go together or what may come of either, but they beckon and I follow…
My mother disliked Virgos. My father was one. She cautioned me about my choice in a husband, scolding me that it was only a matter of time before his easy nature revealed a truer self–one with a critical need for perfection.
She was right and she was wrong. (My father and husband must have different risings.)
My mother loved astrology. The tarot. The runes. Transcendental texts. All things beyond.
Me too. Only I came to it slower, and then sprinted–when my mother was taken from me too soon.
In the years before her death, before we knew she would be dying, I left my hometown by the sea for a little house in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Though my mother was 50 at the time, she still had little ones at home–my youngest brother and sister, twenty years my junior–and I brought them up to enjoy a week in the country while my mother enjoyed a rare week to herself.
When my mother arrived to fetch them the following weekend, they were covered in bug bites and bruises and they had so much to tell her. That next morning, while the children were still sleeping, I was surprised to see mother out on the steps that led up from the field to our front lawn.
She sat there on the stones in the warming sun of a cool, summer morning, with a steaming mug in her hand, embraced by the mountains.
I was struck by the depth of her presence. Of her stillness. Of the stark contrast to her lifetime of doing. And I paused in my busyness in witness of her.
It’s where I find myself now. At the same age. In the same season. The sleeping children–my own. The house–the one my husband later built–the home my mother never met. And the stone steps? Brand new.
For ten years, I’ve had to leap out the French doors to place myself on the front lawn.
But with the ripening of August and age, I am invited to step down.
To be still.
To receive the embrace of mountains.
And the warmth of the early morning sun on stone.
With the added delight of an unexpected communion, across time.
On my second read through the Prodigal Summer, deep in the middle of winter, I began to think that I skipped a chapter or two, particularly as the end came on so quickly. I was so certain that I remembered more to the story that I paged through the entire book, seeking the missed parts.
But that’s all there was. It was over. Just like that.
I feel the same way now.
How is summer coming to a close?
I look back at the weeks gone by and still can’t fathom that I have lived a full summer, but here it is: the middle of August (past the middle of August)… leaves turning red, school starting in a week.
Someone has stolen summer! Maybe I can blame it on the schools; or on the tenacious cough my son brought home from camp; or on climate change?