Rough Work (in memory of Ann Bunting-Mock)


Let me just sit and feel the morning change into her winter clothes again. Summer’s breath just passed across my hands, undulating like a line of pelicans above the dunes and hollows of my palms. I have become my age. I can do anything. I watch the cats, I listen to the winds that drive the surf onto the island. My front porch sings the songs these front line mainland trees sing. They keep the twists the winds give them and no one shouts my name. My lifeline takes a little break this morning, a little pause between serenity and pain. The cats refuse to keep me warm. The morning is for sitting in, not writing.

Replenish me then, and when I’m ancient, take me home. When the skin of my heart no longer holds the things I’ve seen and done collect me, carry me in your arms back into the changing room, lay me out among friends and empty me of witness and experience. The six lifetimes in one you gave me this time broke the doors of my heart down, broke the doors, the bones, the mind. You do rough work. I know it was invited but your hands are rough, sometimes. Yes, I begged the wide experience. “Make me a proper vehicle!” I cried. That’s okay. I’m just telling you that your old truck is tired.

The right side of the morning brings the sound of bird calls. Work sounds cross the river from the island. Chain saws cut pockets in the wind, carpenters fill them with nails and hammering. Behind it all the rocking ocean sizzles through the sand. Now a storm collects gray wind. Something you said has gobbled up the sun.

The left side holds the silence in. I am divided down a center line. One side full of words, the other full of quiet. You speak of small miracles. I speak of time. You speak of mystery and remind me of the cost of pride. I remind you that I know it’s price. You ask me if I’m tired. You know I’m tired. You touch my wrist, you slide your palm beneath my palm. You are a whisper across my skin, I try to breathe you in, I try to leave my bones behind to meet you. You say, stay, watch the rain.

The rain has many fingers and plays to me so quickly, hitting every key so many times, striking wave, and dune, and island. It comes ashore, hits the trees, surrounds the house and drowns me. I could be the pelican, or the duck out on the river. I could be the single drop of water at the very end of my cat’s chin whisker, or the way she watches the world beyond. I could be whatever mauled and blinded her. Instead, I am the finder and the keeper, the one who gets to feed her. The old cat healed her. He snarled and hissed, he circled, he hated her. She sat calm and quiet at the center of his attention. Two days later he was nursing her. What do I do with this rain?

I say, Mr Einstein, there is nothing in my hands.
You say that’s okay.
Tell me about the seven lives, I say.
You’re on the sixth, says he.

I’m thinking, thirty more years of this. I’ll sleep more, I’ll exercise, I’ll give up cigarettes and learn to like water. The rain is a curtain around my porch. Someone on the island drops a stack of boards and the flat sound carries through the rain and across the river.

I am lucky, I have always been shadowed by love. In this my sixth life I am especially blessed. It seems my fate and destiny, my job perhaps, to recognize its presence. The rooms of my life are filled with love’s magnetic images and icons. The day is a gray shrine. It is filled with bird calls, pelicans, gray wind, rain.

A blind kitten, hissing suspicion, the river, the ocean, the distant sounds of boards dropping, of hammering, hammering, nailing up the wind.

This entry was posted in 'tis a gift to be simple, aa, aan, ann bunting-mock, art, callings, journal, love, poetry, quilting, recovery, stories. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rough Work (in memory of Ann Bunting-Mock)

  1. Nancy says:

    I particularly appreciate that one: about becoming my age. The rain…you have captured that, haven’t you!


  2. enigma says:

    Oh rick, this is truly beautiful.


  3. johemmant says:

    When the skin of my heart no longer holds the things I’ve said and done collect me, carry me in your arms back into the changing room, lay me out among friends and empty me of witness and experience.

    WOW. Just WOW.


  4. Pingback: new arrivals, new arrangements « the storybook collaborative

  5. Pingback: ann, again | mine enemy grows older

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