You’re old enough for your wants not to hurt you, my mother would say, and I was sure she was wrong, because I felt real pain when I could not have the thing I longed for: a blue dress with ribbons and rhinestone buttons. red patent leather shoes with 4″ heels, a second piece of chocolate cake. Those wants were real, the agony of not getting them like a knife in my young, yearning heart.
60 years later I understand her wisdom. I want for simpler things these days, things as unattainable as that blue dress: the end of hate, the coming of peace, safety for everyone I love, immortality so I might see all these things come to pass.
Come here, he said. All sex and liqud eyes, muscles because bricklaying does that to a man. Come here, he said, and I did, came into those strong arms, those blue eyes, never thinking what the future held. Come here, I said, see your son, see our lives, twisted together like morning glories, blooming in the brightness of day, Come here, I said, and he did, never looking back.
I’ve thought about moving, to a place more convenient, with neighbors, a flat lawn, and a little house that’s easy to clean. Yet here I still am, in this isolated place, with a large sloping lawn and a house that’s anything if not inconvenient.
But here I can listen to leaves rustle in soft fall breezes, watch the Milky Way wheel overhead, unobstructed by buildings, unfettered by lights and wires. Here I watch deer graze, squirrels hid nuts, woodpeckers busy with their work; a wren wakes me with her song at dawn, the only other sound my husband’s breathing, no automobiles, no planes, no voices. Here I have space for all the gardens any woman could want, contented hens to fill my breakfast plate with eggs, and neighbors far enough away that I cannot see or ever hear them.
When I am too old to garden, too old to hear the wren or see the deer, too old to enjoy being alone, then, perhaps, I’ll move.
The rain came at last
after days, weeks of drought,
steady, cool bursts that soaked
stressed trees and gardens to new green.
We, the gardeners, know
that we did what needed to be done,
fed our gardens so that they will feed us.
Now we clink our glasses, celebrate
survival. It is enough for this day.
Tomorrow we begin anew,
pull weeds, check for damage.
Tonight, we light our fire,
watch the embers
glow in each other’s eyes,
feel worry slide away,
claim the rest we earned.
They gathered under a white tent,
a large family, hugging and happy
to be together, enjoying a June evening.
No one wore masks; they didn’t need them,
did they? “We’re all healthy,” they said.
And they ate and sang, danced and laughed,
talked into the wee hours of morning. “Creating
memories,” they said. “It’s fine, we’re in the country,
fresh air and good home cooking.” And they danced
and danced and danced, not knowing
they were dancing with the devil.
written in response to a prompt on First50.wordpress.com