Red Berry Bush Restless

The Round

by Stanley Kunitz

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.

So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
“Light splashed . . .”

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.


These words –

So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me

– these words have spoken to me from my bulletin board for months now, more and more insistent as the winter digs in, persists, takes over like the grey that hides any tempting view of sunshine or color. What better time than now to trudge downstairs?

I am tempted by Facebook, tempting by the blog, tempting to keep writing and writing and writing my life. Tempted to watch “Lost,” to eat cake, to watch from the poolside as the world burns. Tempted to ditch everything, pull my kids out of school, buy a bus and set out on a journey where we all find new names. Tempted too, by home, by the pull of rooting in, making nice, tidying up, filling the house with warm goodness, inviting in friends, being.

In other words, I am restless. I am listening to a restless compilation of songs on my little iPod shuffle – from Gipsy Kings to Dar Williams to U2 to Queen Latifa early 90s attitude. I am restless on the move and restless on the mat. I am kvetchy and cranky.

I want to shut the doors of my house. How many times I have alluded to this impulse, to close myself in, unplug, hunker down, devote myself to a single project. But no, my life is a restless mosaic, a rubik’s cube, a puzzle whose pieces keep moving while I sleep.

But to trudge downstairs to my little cell, away from the noise and the fires and the requests and the demands, I would miss the softness of her cheek when she finally lets me in close, I would miss the taste of coconut milk and ginger, I would miss the midnight wrestling match on soiled sheets, and the hard-won exhale of gratitude for healthy struggles.

I want to go down to the lake, down the bike path a ways, beyond the stones and the docks, to call out across the water, to let it rip, to holler, and finally to sit quietly in the frozen air.

I want to release some of this pent-up winter energy, to go fast, to spin on the ice just barely in control, to sweat in the sauna and throw myself in the snow, naked and red.

I want to disappear and then to rise again, like the sun.

I want to shut the doors to my house, then to fling them open, to let in the life we keep out so vigilantly, separated from the world by walls, by stairs, by structures.

And I want structure, I want a plan, I want blocks of time devoted to work and others devoted to play. But this is not my life now. My life is a restless blur, or a fluid line, or a frozen moment in time, a play, a blink, a red berry bush in the snow.

7 thoughts on “Red Berry Bush Restless

  1. Holly says:

    oh jena, you have illuminated my mood–how do you do it?
    in the spirit of sisterhood and U.N.I.T.Y (sing it with me, now) i want to sit on the other side of the lake and holler right back at you, two voices echoing each other’s state of mind.
    lots of love from CA.


  2. Nerdy Renegade says:

    Oh. You’ve echoed so many of my sentiments in this amazing post, dear Jena. I*have*been*restless*for*years.

    Now I’m sinking deeper into a dark night of the soul. The doors of my house are shut and apparently will not be flung open for something new for several more months.

    Through it all, I am learning to wait. To rest. To go deeper. To cling to the good, simple, peaceful, happy things and pay attention in the midst of the ugly, messiness.

    Thank God for the Internet and a way to connect from our cold, gray, wintry closed up abodes!

    Here’s to waiting – and growing – and learning.


  3. Beth P. says:

    What if…your blog is the bones of your work? What if the flesh is some teaching that starts now, but has momentum after the girls are in school? What if the translucent skin of your body of work is only visible in mid-life and the hair and eyes in cronedom?

    Love to you, Restless One


  4. Shelli says:

    Something ate my first note. I hope I don’t duplicate.

    Anyway, I said how beautiful this is. You write so beautiful, and you’ve captured how I’ve been feeling lately too. Thank you.



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