Some mornings I am all need and I want someone to take care of me instead of me taking care of my kids. But I pull it together with the coffee my husband made for me. I make eggs for myself and make myself eat them while I pull together lunches and pull my children from their beds. I try to ease them out slowly as I recall how it took me a full hour to pull myself out of bed. My dreams were weird enough last night to hear my 13-year-old call out my name so I would stop talking gibberish to whomever was in my dreams. One of those nights.
I think about how I’m always looking for a sign of grace, and then one crosses my path and it carries me for mere minutes when it seems it should carry me for a day. On this rough morning a sign of grace crossed our path rght before the first stop sign. I stopped the car as the hummingbird buzzed in front of us, pointed it out to the girls, got excited enough that my oldest laughed at my excitement.
And then I forgot about the hummingbird until I read this poem by Ada Limón on The Rumpus. Ahh, life, let’s make up animals that are always there waiting for us, holding magic in their stance.
The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road
That we might walk out into the woods together,
and afterwards make toast
in our sock feet, still damp from the fern’s
wet grasp, the spiky needles stuck to our
legs, that’s all I wanted, the dog in the mix,
jam sometimes, but not always. But somehow,
I’ve stopped praising you. How the valley
when you first see it—the small roads back
to your youth—is so painfully pretty at first,
then, after a month of black coffee, it’s just
another place your bullish brain exists, bothered
by itself and how hurtful human life can be.
Isn’t that how it is? You wake up some days
full of crow and shine, and then someone
has put engine coolant in the medicine
on another continent and not even crying
helps cure the idea of purposeful poison.
What kind of woman am I? What kind of man?
I’m thinking of the way my stepdad got sober,
how he never told us, just stopped drinking
and sat for a long time in the low folding chair
on the Bermuda grass reading and sometimes
soaking up the sun like he was the story’s only
subject. When he drove me to school, we decided
it would be a good day, if we saw the blue heron
in the algae-covered pond next to the road,
so that if we didn’t see it, I’d be upset. Then,
he began to lie. To tell me he’d seen it when
he hadn’t, or to suppose that it had just
taken off when we rounded the corner in
the gray car that somehow still ran, and I
would lie, too, for him. I’d say I saw it.
Heard the whoosh of wings over us.
That’s the real truth. What we told each other
to help us through the day: the great blue heron
was there, even when the pond dried up,
or froze over; it was there because it had to be.
Just now, I felt like I wanted to be alone
for a long time, in a folding chair on the lawn
with all my private agonies, but then I saw you
and the way you’re hunching over your work
like a puzzle, and I think even if I fail at everything,
I still want to point out the heron like I was taught,
still want to slow the car down to see the thing
that makes it all better, the invisible gift,
what we see when we stare long enough into nothing.