There are no plumy accents when traveling by coach, just ordinary people going about extraordinary lives. The bus grinds through small, forgotten villages, stops for elderly women with rheumy eyes dragging plaid shopping trolleys, stops for old men under flat woolen caps, hearing aids at odd angles whistling in their hairy ears, stops for weary young mums with impossibly complex prams. We bump by sodden fields of sheep, into market towns no longer proffering produce, only plastic. Yet three times on this journey I have seen standing stones, great, gray plinths alone in fields, reminders of time immemorial, reminders there is more than what appears to be. They watch us hurtle by.
I am the one who has not rejoiced, always, and again I will say, is not rejoicing.
Hardly ever my gentleness is known, even to me, and not, certainly, to my children. Strangers report to have seen it on Tuesday in the library. I do not confirm this sighting.
But I have catalogued my every worry about everything, my requests made known in the sharp, carping voice on my blog. By supplication and prayer I claim to have been deserted. I say it again, deserted, justly.
And still, some Spirit stays near, alert for the stingiest rejoicing, key ready in his unclenched hand. Unlock, Heart-Guard, my chest’s dark vessel. Empty me of treasured loss. And again, I say, make it emptier, until, for rejoicing, a space larger enough to echo appears.
They’re the riddle in my garden What has eyes but cannot see? Like a stone, they fit my hand as I turn their other cheek. With love but no regrets, I mash them into mounds or whip them, scallop them, dice them for rivel soup. Cancer could not lessen Dad’s affection for them fried. He tells how they clustered like sleigh bells in the sand where nothing else but winter squash and zucchini thrived. His mother, Fannie Mishler, fixed them for every meal like some cultures live on rice. My son-in-law from St. Louis splashes hot sauce on their skin, but I fancy even their pockmarked faces that shrivel as they age.