Judy's backyard flowers October 2009. Cosmos going strong now.
Zinnias catching up. Maybe by October like this?
The Telling that Changes Everything XXIV. July 29, 2012
stagger in our darkness,
but if we move confidently
forward, we’ll see the gray light
of Dawn, then the yellow saffron
of her mantle, the rosy fingers
with which she lights our day,
and what, then, will steamrollers
matter to such tough-spirited,
joyous, individual grains of sand?
–The Telling That Changes Everything II.
What do I name this time in my life?
Am I a crone but not withered? Old,
but not yet ancient? From the way
people look at me, they must see
Death around the corner. I know Death
lurks near everyone, but I’m not afraid.
He’s not my boogey-man. Maybe I’ll
call it the Grain of Sand stage. My body
experiences aging in small ways: some
grey hair, more wrinkles, bent fingers
and toes; knees I need to exercise.
I rest more. Sleep harder, come to
waking as if to a whole new life.
It is a new life. I love easily, have
no patience with fools; take more risks
in my speech and published writings.
I have to remind myself that I’m still
quite canny and capable, when I see
the doubt in people’s eyes. I think this
stage was as intended as a fully ripe
tomato or a perfect firm, prickly
cucumber. Alive and well; fit and
free; bold and risky. If sometimes
I get lonely or forget how well I cope
with marauding critters, rampaging
weeds, or insincerity and manipulation
in other people, let me remind myself
that these years are a gift I did earn
and provide for myself. I never focused
on money except to buy this farm and
pay for fences and a chicken coop.
I took care of my health; I kept writing
no matter how full my days, how
short my nights. I did what I
passionately wanted to do. I still do.
I learned how to see into souls and
nourish my own. Nonna said twenty
years ago that I had an old Russian soul.
That soul now has a body to match,
still lively, cells still renewing
themselves, Memory still the Muse’s
mother. The sign that makes an old
Russian soul unmistakable? Her love
of life, of other people, of the earth
and its creatures and vegetation. It’s
hard not to admire morning glory
vines that sprawl over the sweet
potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes,
or give a raiding possum credit for
making off with three hundred pears,
or begrudge the cardinals a few figs.
I defend my farm, my crops, my
quiet time in order to live well and
write this old soul onto paper and
scatter the leaves abroad for the
whole world to know what one grain
of sand’s life was like, but I respect
the forces of competition and intrusion,
my animal, vegetable, human opponents,
and then, ultimately, Death. I hold it
at the edge. I side with Life. Call me
a crone if you like, or an old woman.
But consider: I may know things you
need to learn.