fifteen. fifteen! always wiser than that. let’s hope for a year with many wishes, questions, revelations, and safe driving lessons.
The Community Farm of Ann Arbor had their Fall Festival tonight, and there was a dessert contest — so many gorgeous, amazing desserts, all our plates looked like jeweled shields. It’s our first year at the festival, and I didn’t know there would be a contest. I quickly found a recipe for cookies this afternoon after my third-trimester nap. The cookies did end up being delicious, though Jack wouldn’t even try them: Carrot Oatmeal Cookies from 101 Cookbooks. (I added 1 cup of raisins, too. When I do it again I’ll take out some of the walnuts.)
So there was a prize for the healthiest dessert, and Steve was really pushing our cookies on the tasting judges. When they announced the prize-winners, I let him walk over because I was waiting for Jack to finish his hayride. They announced our cookies as the winners of the healthiest dessert, and Steve accepted our prize of peach jam — with a speech and thanks to his mom.There was much to-do. I heard the laughter from a good distance away. He came walking toward me later with his peach jam like a trophy over his head.
Oh good, I have something to write in my blog, I laughed, because I’ve been feeling mute lately. But I’ve been proud of my ability to cook this past year after almost thirty years of culinary ignorance, and so also I had someplace in my brain when I saw that peach jam that wanted to believe that maybe I’m really a better-than-average cook after all. Huh.
But it turns out the announcer read the winners wrong: our cookies were runners-up to the tofu-lentil-carob brownies. We got to keep the peach jam, but the real winner got the ribbon.
So I have no photo of the ribbon, and I ended up not being very interested in my cookies, so no photographs of those.
But the landscape was gorgeous.
(There’s no one in these last two photographs because we were hiding from the square dancing event going on loud and clear behind the barn. No, I’m not by nature social. But that fluorescent maze glowing strangely in the sunset, that was worth the isolation.)
That peach jam probably wouldn’t have won any prizes, either. Though it was delicious.
because I don’t know how to define soul, but spirit is defined: breath. Inspire.
When people sleep, they still have something about them that is them. Steve sleeps and he’s still my husband, still recognizable and beautiful and present.
People say that phrase, ‘and then she breathed her last breath’ but they don’t say ‘and then her heart beat its last beat’ or ‘her eyes blinked for the last time.’
When my grandmother died, she had been in a hospital for maybe a week, and her daughter, my aunt, had seen her in all states, in pain and asleep and composed and watching tv and eating hospital food. she said goodbye and left the room, my grandmother died, and she returned.
My aunt made a joke about it afterward, when we all arrived, about how funny my grandmother looked dead. It had only been a few minutes between seeing her living and dead, but her face wasn’t the same anymore.
So maybe that’s the moment. When the baby breathes for the first time. Maybe it’s not at conception or when the heart first beats or when the brain registers wake and sleep, but when it’s pushed or lifted out into the world, when the body literally joins spirit. Inside me is preparation. Some say half of early pregnancies dissolve, but out here we’d notice and hurt.
My friend says that you don’t breathe — rather, you’re being breathed. you don’t think about it like you think about lifting your arms or eating. Something fills you with air again and again, rhythmically, even when you sleep. I can’t even imagine that moment, I’ve never seen it, of being filled with breath for the first time.
(For workshop today I gave the prompt “20 things about yesterday,” hoping to get people to write in more detail. One took it as a much-needed exercise in memory recall. Another took it as a chance to mix a concrete form with philosophical digressions. Another made a list poem. I, as usual, hung onto visual details and hinted here and there at subtext.)
The dog looks brown, not black.
The air moves thick but the air shuts the door.
The dog-man has red in his beard but mostly white.
His beard creeps up into his lower lip.
Salty Dog, it says on his cap. He leaves it on inside.
When he adjusts it once, his hair is long and sparse underneath.
He talks slow as this land is flat.
The girl-dog doesn’t listen.
To obey means to hear.
Her brain is thicker than the air.
What cuts through: hot dogs.
The house ticks.
I chop the magda squash into squares,
the carrots into rectangles.
I don’t know how to chop the purple pepper.
The onion always slips under my hands.
We keep saying we need to sharpen the knife, but I’m glad for once it’s dull.
For lunch: bread and applesauce.
For breakfast: two hardboiled eggs.
After dinner, the teenager puts bees in my stomach when she turns up 95.5.
When she’s gone, I hunt for the m+m’s.
There is a point when guilt over chocolate is bigger than chocolate.
I eat the m+m’s in a trance in the car in Dexter, parked outside Nails, Etc.
The dogs settle.
It gets dark in half an hour. This last night of summer.
Fall can’t wait to hide that lake I haven’t noticed until now.
I practice what the therapist taught last year: of course you feel guilty about the m+m’s, you’ve been trying so hard to be good.
The teenager is back in the car and we switch to another radio station.
It’s a love song.
She sings along.
The dogs cannot ever contain themselves that she’s here.