Monday, March 25, 2013



Ice is falling from the sky today.  Clouds of lead scatter frozen glitter across the world outside my window, I can hear it patter against the glass.  The multiplicity that is Spring never ceases to amaze as this day is nearly polar of one just a few weeks past when balmy breezes and sun-filled skies oversaw the cleaning of my potting bench; the stacking of clay vessels, inventory of seeds and soil and plans begun.  I swept the front porch and replaced the urns which are begging for new ferns once Winter has truly taken his leave.  Removed the now shriveled chives and thyme that passed away beneath alabaster blankets of snow.  I organized the lanterns, wiped down chairs and tables in anticipation of lengthening evenings, warmer winds, and a glass of whiskey shared while the children play hockey in the street. 

At the far end of the porch, where I like to sit and read, is a table.  My table.  I found it abandoned on the curb, rusted and put out for rubbish.  Unwanted.  A summer project unfolding with a coat of black paint, and a bag of broken glass.  I'd never tiled anything other than the floor in the entryway of our house, and that was all numbered and logical.  This was madness with razor sharp edges. 

I remember the sun warm on my bare shoulders, my hair tied up but managing to escape anyway in long pieces that blew about in the summer air.  Music drifted out from the double front doors that are always left open when weather permits, Hazel dozed upon the steps.  I knelt on the cement walk and carefully covered bits of blue and green, like chips of the sky and sea, with an old kitchen cloth.  The hammer clutched in my hand, it's leather grip leaving ridges in the flesh of my palm, I shattered them. 

Sawyer came out and sat on the grass beside me.  "Can I try?" he asked.  "Of course, love, just be sure to cover the glass with the towel so we don't get pieces in the yard."  He followed instructions, raised his arm, and pulverized it to dust.  "Whoa!" I laughed, "Not so hard or I won't have anything to glue!"  He grinned and we worked together for another twenty minutes or so before he dashed off to play with his brothers.  I carefully picked up the pieces and returned to the naked table. 

I had some general idea of what I'd like to see, but nothing truly planned.  I spread the paste, and placed the first piece.  Then the second, and the third.  It seemed the ocean spilled out over that table, held together with glue and some of my own blood smeared from tiny nicks and cuts; grimly jagged, that glass was.  I had to sort through the fractured remains, searching for one that was triangular...square...flat on top and round on the bottom.  As the design unfolded, my needs were more and more specific.  Back to the walk and now choosing carefully, I tapped.  I chiseled.  Microscopic adjustments, precise movement...deliberate splintering. 

I ran out of flat glass.  Had to improvise with odds and ends found about the house.  Patiently I worked the black grout between the knifelike rivulets, dark sand gritty beneath my nails.  Certainly, it resembles nothing machine made, imperfection is its claim to beauty.  Unique and slightly uncentered...much as I.  I found myself tracing the now passive bits of glass, their edges muted, lethality expunged. 

Oh, how life has chiseled me.

I find astonishing comfort in this thought.  There is marvelous beauty in this life we all share; a tapestry of love and agony, death and birth and sunlight on still ponds.  And each of us a part, shaped by forces greater than ourselves.  Sculpted.  Sometimes just a sanding of the rough, sometimes surgery of the soul.  But together, our broken bits glinting in the light....

We are lovely indeed.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


The heat of the oven is delicious on my skin.  My kitchen, with its massive antediluvian window and three outside walls, tends to be one of the coldest rooms in the house--thus leading to a near perpetual parade of fresh breads and cookies, roasts and creamy casseroles, any possible excuse I can come up with to keep the oven burning as we persevere through snow and sleet.  Warm air swirls in drafts around me, the scent of rosemary and garlic permeate the evening, doing battle with Jack Frost as he clings to the window glass.  One hip resting against the counter, the edge of the porcelain sink cool beneath my fingers....and night slowly swallows the day. 

When was the last time you actually watched, minute by minute, the evening arrive?  Dusk, with her lovely cloak of grey, gently drapes the world in silver....her darkness eclipsing the skeletal trees, shrouding the back fence, veiling the sky until the window holds nothing more than a dim reflection of the small warm kitchen and the woman within.  So still, she stands.  Auburn hair framing pale skin.  The curve of my neck, the shadow of a collar bone disappearing under white cotton, the glitter of a silver chain. 

Is that what I look like? To the trees outside?  The rising moon?  What do they see?

Every morning I face that woman, run a brush through her hair, blacken her lashes, slide color across her lips.  But do you know, we never truly see ourselves...only our reflections.  And as so much of vision is actually perception, woven with expectations, memories and hope, rather than strictly observation; I fear I see more...or possibly less, in that reflection than most.  Leviathan flaws, monstrous inadequacy, tremendous potential and crushing failure, joy and grief and thirst.  Her green eyes gaze back at me, a flat image on mirrored glass; no breath, no warmth, no blood within.

Not me...a reflection.

The other day a friend stopped by for a visit and we sat with cups of tea, feet curled beneath us on the old leather couch in the living room.  She smiled at the plants that drape from the mantle and the edge of the buffet, the bird's nest woven with dried grass and filled with painted eggs that rests on the dining room table, surrounded by river stones.  "I'd know this was your house even if it were my first time here," she said, "Just by the scent of it....I can see you everywhere, every room reflects you."

I suppose that makes sense, my home is another reflection of me.  But one of mingled proportions for others are here too.  Finger painted flowers on the wall in the kitchen, brought home with love when my eldest was merely seven, six years past now.  End tables that arrived with my husband, the pedal organ from the 1800's that he and I bought together and refurbished into a bar.....paintings signed by my grandmother, the piano from my great grandfather.  I wonder what my home says about me...what would a stranger know passing within these walls...what secrets revealed.

I can hear the boys now, downstairs.  Laughter echoing up through the vents, a new James Bond video game their latest thrill.  A co-worker told me last week when the boys came with my husband to pick me up from the office, that they walked like me.  I had no idea.  Our children divulge worlds about us, astonishingly accurate reflections of who we really are.  Our beliefs and foundations stripped bare of the veneer of speech and facade of accoutrements.  Children are the truth of us.

Night has chased away the day now.  Wine warms slowly in the glass beside me, casting fractured rays of garnet light from glare of this screen.  I wonder at the verity of my soul...the reality of me.  Am I found within the reflections?  Unmasked in their exposure?

Is there more to me?