Beautiful and Simple and Unknown

I know who won the Academy Awards. I know who fell, know the names of the designers behind the gowns. I know who ordered pizza, who participated in a giant group selfie, who photobombed whom. But I cannot tell you the name of the bird whose call ushers me down the street twee! twee! twee! towards the woods.

Tendrils of warmth are woven into the air, lightly perfumed with manure from the farms outside of town. Water rushes down the street, in its joy catching up sticks and pebbles and plastic bags, hurrying them along towards the storm drains. The snow on the lawn, black and gritty, has begun to recede. A moat of colorless grass surrounds each tree, keeping the snow at bay.

The dog pulls, urging me onward: This is the first time in days that the temperature has allowed us to venture outside for more than a moment. My feet crunch upon the ice at wood’s edge. The dog pauses to sniff at some bushes. The path through the trees is still thickly covered in snow. I am grateful for my boots.

A shimmer of water floats upon the creek’s thick ice, grown lacy at the edges. Snowmelt trickles down the muddy bank, briefly paused in its progress by a fat fingering root. The water pools there, hovering tentatively, one drop at a time, at the bottom of the root before letting go.

A mourning dove calls. A man sits on the ice, an upended white five-gallon bucket his chair, playing a line in his hand. The pumpkin still rests upon the frozen lake, its face wrinkled and withered, sagging and melting, succumbing to inevitabilities.

A cardinal flashes red among the trees as I circle the lake and go back towards the creek.

An empty nest nestles among naked branches, a nest to be lined in soft feathers and settled into, a nest that will soon hold a clutch of oval eggs.

I struggle up the muddy bank, digging in the toes of my boots for purchase and head home, promising myself to look up the name of the bird whose song is beautiful and simple and unknown.


This was linked up to Just Write.






Before Jogging Northeast

I started in my son’s room.

I started in my son’s room because I didn’t want to start in the master bedroom: Thin floral paper at least fifty years old grips the walls there. The crack above the whistling radiator runs parallel for the length of my arm before jogging northeast, like a hand curved upward.

I started in my son’s room because his room has always been the room of hand-me-downs: dresser and bed and a nightstand painted blue.

I started in my son’s room because his sisters have begun that slow and steady departure, charting out lives of their own. Already at college, they’re making plans for summer internships to get away from this beautiful little village that I already love, the village that insists upon squaring up its shoulders and calling itself a city.

I started in my son’s room because the alternative was to start in the kitchen, a project that will require an investment so outrageous and grand, I find it’s best not to think about it. So I fold up that project, tuck it away into a place in my mind labeled after college.

I started in my son’s room.

It was a mistake.

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Considering the Trees

If you time it right, if you get that old Christmas tree to the curb on time, the city will pick it up. Haul it away in the back of a salt truck and turn it into compost. Most of the trees get picked up this way, but a man has been spotted ’round here, stepping from his Cadillac, considering the trees curbside, occasionally selecting one and wrestling it into his trunk. But that doesn’t happen too often.

What can happen is that people are late. They miss the cutoff, don’t get their tree to the curb early enough. And so there it sits, poor miserable tree, once cherished, now a thing to be disposed of, accumulating a layer of salt and snow, putting up with the indignity of prodding dog noses, under constant threat of being mistaken for a fire hydrant.

Here and there, these leftover trees are scattered, the trees not picked up by the city or by the man in the Cadillac. I wondered what would happen to them.


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