Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Musings, 31 March 2012

Good morning,

The distant sound of a train echoes around me. My wakefulness draws me to the computer's keyboard. With a press of the mute button, I mask the ticking of my letters, so that nothing I do lends itself to the otherwise still aura of the bedroom. Night time, Brookside, another sleepless night.

I feel a tantalizing chill through the open window which carries the gentle fragrance of an early spring. The height of the room captures the breeze coming off the neighbor's trees, triggering a mild lament at the deliberate loss of our old cedar and the bold mimosa which I had cultivated from a volunteer sapling. In their place, a clump of holly barely clears the height of a dainty woman. No breeze stirs this shrub. But behind our house, beyond the ugly fencing that my neighbor installed, tall, old limbs toss the night air in my direction.

I recall an autumn night in Montana, when I descended from Glacier Park in the stillness of All Hallows Eve, past rows of white crosses marking tragic losses on the highway, past skittering, costumed children running from house to house on the deliciously eerie streets in a series of minuscule towns. I think of a summer evening on a stone porch in Boulder, my young son seated on the bench beside me, playing with trucks as I half-listened to the murmurs of a heated conversation inside the house. The argument had nothing to do with us. We had come along on a road trip to take my son's friend for summer visitation with his father. Those in the house fretted about the logistics of the exchange: the length of the visit; whether we should return at the visit's end or let the boy come home, alone, by plane, by bus, by train. They argued amongst themselves before delivering the child to his father the next morning; it was all war strategy, I thought, idly, lifting my face to the warmth of the summer night. Futile, destined to failure, a distraction from the grace of the mountains around us.

Rummaging through my cedar closet a few days ago, I found an envelope of pictures taken at a mountain festival, held in Arkansas, in the rolling hills above Jasper. I ran my finger along the shiny photo paper, over the faces of people whose names I can no longer remember. Sorting through the small stack of photographs, I shivered, feeling again the prickling of the summer sun, the rise of a light burn on my skin. In one photo, a wiry, slender woman's long black braid falls forward over her shoulder as she hoists folding chairs from the back of a pick-up. Nearby, a man stands on the middle rung of a ladder, glancing over his shoulder, crinkling his leathery skin in a deep, uncensored smile just as the shutter clicks. I can still feel the soft crunch of dirt under my feet, still hear the dancing tune of a fiddle, the call of children on the hill above the community center. I can almost taste the tender corn, roasted in its husk inside an old metal drum, basted in peanut butter that oozed out of the foil wrapping and ran down my fingers. I can smell the pungent fragrance of home grown tomatoes sprinkled with fresh, tender basil.

On a mild evening this week, I drove home from work through the Plaza. The slow traffic near Brush Creek irked me. As I waited for a traffic light to change in my favor, I glanced out of the open passenger window and saw a woman walking behind a small girl. The little one bent forward, golden curls sweetly arranged around her thin, pale face. She wore a light spring coat over a ruffled skirt that clung to her knobby knees. Her frail arms strained, each tiny hand gripping the frame of a wheeled walker, which she pushed forward as she took halting, painful steps. I could not see the woman's face. But I could see the child clearly. I judged her to be about four. The light changed, and I drove slowly by the two. The mother kept a few paces behind her child, watching but not interfering. I noticed the glint of metal braces encasing the child's legs. I tried to find her in my rear view mirror as I made my way over the bridge, but the traffic surged, blocking my view. I continued on, subdued, my irritation slipping away.

Outside my house, the train has long since continued on its journey and the night has fallen quiet. March did not come in like a roaring feline, and it is exiting, this March of 2012, like a languid river carrying a gliding longboat on an unhurried journey. April Fool's Day beckons; Easter rides its heels. I close my eyes, leaning toward the open window. If I hold myself impossibly still, taking long, deliberate breaths, I can capture the scent of lilacs, washing over me, on an early spring night, in Brookside, in Kansas City, as I wait for sleep to offer its elusive embrace.

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.