Water always calls to me. The solitude. The romance. The constant churning of earth beneath the tide. Every important thing in my life is, or has been, a characteristic of the sea: my daughter, a small sea bird; my brothers, bright sturdy boats; my father, a lighthouse; my mother, a mooring; my lover, a fisherman; and myself a mermaid. These roles shift over time, but unlike the shoreline they never erode. These are the people who anchor me.
You are shopping for a hat for your boyfriend because it will be cold soon and his favorite one is threadbare. You are shopping for a hat for him when you find yourself standing in front of a display shelf staring down two options: a loosely-woven beanie in black or in beige. Your instinct is to grab the sleek, elegant black hat, but you know he enjoys evening and early mornings walks when the light is best for photographing the family of swans that live in the pond nearby, and a black man in a black skull cap on an empty road in the dark/before dark/just after dark in a small New England town with less than 2% African-American population may prove less than prudent. And then you remind yourself that he is from Atlanta, a town with a black population greater than 50% and even less expectation of safety for a black man, and your shoulders sag, and you think of your brothers and nephew, black men, who can recite almost any comic book hero’s narrative, deconstruct literature/ hip hop lyrics, re-enact every dance sequence from Breakin’, Beat Street, Grease 1 and 2, but you know the world does not see how funny gentle magic weary they are, only that they are other (and how are they other when this land is our land, not too, but period, black men are not additions to be included in the story of America, they are not a lot to be annexed!), and you think of your nightly prayer they each make it home (HOME!) warm safe loved, and part of you, for a brief moment, standing in front of the display shelf staring down the two hats, is restored and hopeful just thinking of them, but another part of you — the part that understands, at times, camoflauge is the safest way through — concedes the beige hat, and steadies your gait in time with the earth spinning beneath your flat feet.
Beneath the thinning ice
A small streamlet flows;
Spring is made of my heart.
She’s a fighter. Not a brute or a bully, but determined, resolved, purposeful. Water flowing around rock, slowing jagged edge into something level, smooth, a way through. She’s a fighter. Not a clamor, but a quiet hopefulness. She didn’t walk until she was ready and then she stood, unassisted, and walked from the family room into the kitchen. She didn’t talk until she had something to say and then one day out of the blue, she walked to the top of the stairs, threw down her music box, and spoke in a full sentence: I don’t want you to go. She was 2.
This little bird, just out of the nest, dark wings spiraling out, is raising her face to the wind, is gonna fly.
O. Daddy. Yesterday was long.
It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year. It is for me, at least. October means visits to my daughter at college and all the folly that comes with that. Approaching cold, falling leaves, trips to the orchard, sappy movies with winding narratives, food-food-food, gathering up the last of the harvest from the farms, planning about holiday meals, family visits, gifts — this is when I come up with the color scheme for the wrapping paper I’ll stencil or paint or badly sketch. I love this time of year and all the festivities that come with it.
The best thing about October: my father’s birthday.