Friday, February 22, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Solitudinem

"My love,” Joseph said.  "Come with me into the wilderness.  I have much to show you.”

Mabel's eyes were blank, staring.

“Mabel,” Joseph said.  “Mabel?”

She blinked.  "I don’t know about this.”

"Precisely,” said Joseph.  "All the more reason for you to come.”

She walked mechanically.  When they reached the edge of the forest, she turned to him and said, "This isn’t funny, Joseph.  I’m surprised you would ever stoop to this level.  Don’t you know how vile and black it is in the heart of the wilderness?  You need to be very careful about what you’re doing.”

"Mabel, Mabel, Mabel.  Don’t be afraid,” he said.

"This is all your fault!  Why didn’t you run away when I threw the stones at you?  Why didn’t you just—“


“—go to hell.”

Joseph stepped back and winced.  He put his hands on his head and closed his eyes.  Mabel couldn’t figure out what he was doing.  Praying?

Finally, he said, “You know, I just want to help you see.”

“Help me see what?”

“The clouds.”

“You don’t make any sense,” she said.

“Well, I do love a bunch of nonsense!  It’s rather fun!”

“How’s the forest going to bring me clouds?” she asked.

“The forest isn’t exactly what’s going to do it.”

“How many clouds?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Joseph.  “Maybe just one at first.  A lonely one, soft with no edges.”

Mabel looked into the forest with blank expression.

"Come,” said Joseph, and took her hand.

They traveled over fallen trees, rocks and branches until they reached a tiny, dark clearing.  Mabel looked up and saw five surrounding trees slightly curving into a shadowy dome, blocking the sun.

Joseph said, “Wait here.”  He returned carrying a gift wrapped in shiny paper, tied with dark, twisted ribbon.  And trailing behind him was a skinny teenage boy.

“What now?” said Mabel.

“I like surprising you,” said Joseph.  “This gift is for you because my love for you runs deep.”

The teenager twiddled his thumbs with a sly grin.

“This is Lucius,” said Joseph.  “He really wanted to tie the ribbon on, so I permitted him to do so.  When you try to untie it, poison will get on your fingers, trickle up your arms, into your shoulders, through your neck, and into your mind.”

Mabel raised her eyebrows.

“But I’ll be right here with you, closer than your breath, so nothing will completely overtake you.”

Mabel inhaled sharply and held out her arms to receive the present.

Monday, February 18, 2013

in tandem

"We may live together in our own boundaried community, but we do not live bounded.  We live between our world and the world that needs us outside of us.  We don't live together for our own sakes, though we are very important to one another.  We live together so we can do together what it's very difficult for anybody to do alone."  - Joan Chittister

Sunday, February 3, 2013

a memory of fire and ducks

When I was about five years old, the chicken barn in the grassy field across from our home caught fire.  The entire field.

Through our living room window I watched a few of the neighborhood children stomp on flames in rubber boots.  Their father had recently bought the field, and eventually he built a subdivision there.  They were pink and yellow mansions that, to this day, loom like gigantic sore thumbs over an otherwise beautiful countryside.

My parents had ducks in the backyard.  I was afraid of the larger ones, but one time my Dad brought a duckling, towel-wrapped, into the kitchen.  He put the yellow, trembling fluff of a bird in front of the small heating vent and I was permitted to touch the soft down feathers.

When the subdivision went in we couldn't have ducks anymore.  It was something to do with the water.