This day, October 9, a breath between Yom Kippur and tomorrow–I plucked a volume of poems from the shelf on my way out, then came here to listen for a language I might comprehend, surrounded by strange characters one town from home after a day full of doing—pancakes for a lip-glossed crowd of mighty girls, triceps sore from clipping the lawn with the push-mower, raking delicious-smelling leaves into piles ready for jumping children, folding the laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, running past golfers enjoying an unseasonable October Sunday.
I came to catch a buzz or to catch my breath, to catch and release my hold on anyone else’s business, to peer at the river that just weeks ago defied its banks. I came for a kind of sidewalk savasana, to let the first day settle into a satisfying fatigue of bones busy doing good, the Book of Life closed on the year past, inscribed in a language I used to use to understand dreams, now complete. And I came to pardon the stories I released from their woven binding, burned in the backyard to ash in my open hands beyond the chiseled corners of ego or effort. To take my time, my time,
It occurs to me now that somewhere, this night, a family is building a sukkah, preparing to eat and dwell exposed to the stars. And somewhere, in the desert, a woman I love but have never met grieves her mother, exposed to the sky her spirit fills.
When my girls offer unsolicited hugs, my heart skips a beat, leaping in the fluency of motherhood fluid as the easy way the day unfolded, not a scroll but a cloth corner to corner, opening to cover the table where we bless the meal–but only when it’s not my idea.
Today the man I married twelve years ago tomorrow drove to the country to see a truly tiny house on wheels. Later, he showed me pictures and we surveyed the yard, our unruly stories still expanding and contracting like the blessed lungs that kept me going on my run and as I mowed and raked and hugged and later wrote.
Nine years ago was a Wednesday–labor picking up force like a wind forecast to sweep our hearts clean carrying her name–and we ordered pizza and watched “West Wing” while I got to know the contractions, a language so intimate it can never be replicated, only retold in translation.
A death, a birth, ashes to earth–she who was dark-haired and ruddy-cheeked and took right to my breast now rollerblades door to door selling chocolates for school, whittles the bark from the branch with her shiny new knife. Family forever.
I think now this must be the language of humility, hearts as close apart as we ever were together. Circles widen and ripple, and what began as a trickle torrents now through the lines spilling over, jewels in the gravel, a maze of trails in the colorful woods where I walked for hours, fasting, losing my way, choosing not to panic, knowing, finally knowing, that I always find my way home to some volume of poems, palms up, hands down, a passage, a breath between Yom Kippur and tomorrow, a bridge to the unbearable heart I am learning slowly, surely, to love.