What Is It?
Who can say,
is it a snowy egret
or a white flower
at the glossy edge
of the lily-
and frog-filled pond?
Hours ago the orange sun
opened the cups of the lilies
and the leopard frogs
their long muscles,
like little green dwarves
under the roof of the rich,
Now the soft
eggs of the salamander
in their wrappings of jelly
begin to shiver.
They’re tired of sleep.
They have a new idea.
They want to swim away
into the world.
– Mary Oliver
A new idea: We make maps. I become a mapmaker and you a healer, and together we swim out into the world where every encounter makes and unmakes us.
What does that mean? You can tell I’ve also been reading David Whyte with all of his weighty words. Confluence. Journeywoman.
But I’d rather lilt like Mary Oliver: the way “lily- / and frog-filled pond” forces me to feel the words inside of my mouth, to say each syllable slowly, like chewing on some morsels of goodness one small bite at a time.
Where in the world am I going? It used to be a train I rode on, a train that sped through the countryside. No thought as to destination, except that it was a place called “there” and we’d get to it eventually. I sat alone by the window, looking for girls who looked like me on the other side of the glass, the train too fast for me to call out, to ask, is that you, you whom I’ve been looking for?
Where I’m going is home, now that I tumbled onto the tracks, now that I’ve walked so many miles in your shoes, in no shoes, your bare feet throbbing over live wire coated in glass. Come rest and heal. We’re going home.
Once upon a time, I believed that “out into the world” meant “anywhere but here.” Once, I thought I’d have to wait and wait, scale these city walls with or without you, wistful. Once, I thought struggle and searching defined me. Once, my name was “tired.”
I have a new idea. Let’s stay in bed just a few minutes longer. Let wrap soft limbs round each other so beloved, such belonging — the lovechild of David Whyte and Mary Oliver with a side of Jack White and Prince for good measure. You Are My Sunshine is where I’m going, into the world of now and now and now, no longer sold on the notion that we’ll never get there.
But before our dissolution into the sea, we must live near the sea.
This morning, in that long lingering, she said to me: “You are all the wife and woman I dreamed up and conjured, but so much more, too.”
Let’s conjure your full healing like that, I said. And our house near the beach, the move I’ve decided not to worry about; the how and when and “what abouts” — these I keep surrendering to something I call Bigger Than Us. Every day I choose no worry is a kind of victory parade, all rainbow flags on the street corners of my heart-eye-mind-body.
Can we just put politics aside and trust the movement towards the sea?
Why not, calls back the wind. Why not, sings the mockingbird in sixteen distinct languages. Why not go into the world starting now, just like this?
Why not, indeed.