Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Musings, 23 May 2015

Good morning,

With a mellow cup of coffee beside me and a piece of buttered toast in my hand, I gaze out of the living room window at the street and the houses which flank it.  This view satisfies my craving for belonging, as it has done for twenty-two years.  I realize that the neighborhood in which I live resembles that in which I spent my childhood.  Small, well-kept front yards; bungalows and ranches; wooden porches, old trees, and the occasional passerby -- casually dressed, perhaps with a dog, maybe a child.  I fit here; I belong.  It neither challenges nor judges, my part of Brookside.  The property values raise with each stoplight one travels westerly, but still I tarry, here on the eastern edge, near the city streets but not of them.

This morning, one of my neighbors sent a message on social media asking for prayers for her mother-in-law, Clara Black.  Mrs. Black lives a few houses north of me, in a house much like mine.  She raised her son in that house.  That son raised his own child in the house across from me.  I can't imagine Holmes Street without Clara Black and yet, I know, if I am sixty she must be eighty.  I do not wish for her to suffer and I will, indeed, lend my prayers to those of others.  In this moment, though, Mrs. Black symbolizes the fullness of time,  the turning of the season, my world changing but remaining the same:  sidewalks waiting for different feet, houses opening for new tenants, trees yielding piles of leaves for toddlers who will some day rake other leaves from the same tree into piles for their own eager children.

As I lay nearly sleeping before the sun rose, memories crowded me.  People who have faded from my consciousness returned.  I could see the curve of cheeks that have pressed against mine; the light in eyes that no longer shine or that shine in other cities, in other mirrors, beholding others and leaving me unseen.  Children who now sit at desks crunching numbers tossed jacks on sidewalks as I drowsed.  In twilight sleep, my brother Mark dared me to jump from the treehouse and my body left the warmth of my comforter to plunge ten feet and thud against the summer ground.

I wrapped my arms around myself to reclaim sleep, groggy, sucked down by the quicksand of memory.  My mother stands on the neighbor's lawn under the platform from which I have jumped.  She shakes a finger at my unrepentent brother.  With her other hand she grips my shoulder.  Why on earth did you jump out of the treehouse? she demands, and the reply echoes in my aging mind: Because Mark told me to.

At sixty, I still understand:  It is not for a sister to think, when her brother tells her to act. I lift my arm from under the covers, here in Brookside, fifty years later.  I flex the fingers, bend the elbow, freeing my muscles from the memory of that insult.  And my aging heart, with its SVT, beats rapidly.  Warmth rises to my cheeks where once before it rose, seeing the smirk on my brother's face, a flicker of amusement where I longed to see approval.  

In an hour or two, I'll travel eastward and by noon, I'll be surrounded by the people that my brothers and sisters have become, our perfect balance -- four boys, four girls --  destroyed by the loss of one but augmented by another generation.  I will stand among them as I have always done:  barely speaking, slightly smiling, sure that the fluttering in my chest betrays me.  I will cross my brother's kitchen to pour a cup of coffee, and someone will ask if my son is coming to the big reunion tomorrow.  I will smile and murmur something vague, my words falling into the brief ripple just before it closes, leaving me to lean against the counter while my family ebbs and flows around me.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Missouri Mugwump™

My photo
I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.