Friday, September 26, 2008

Out Going Tide

There's a certain melancholy that's comforting. While trying to maintain the high that comes with outrage and palpable national disappointment over our current state of affairs, a certain sadness that packs a blow to the bottom of my heart winds its way up to my throat.
Little things.
Yesterday, grabbing the mail and bringing in this week's New Yorker to Mama's bedside. For the first time in months she "'aint too inclined".
In her TV-less household of forty years, she's always had a certain pride in remaining informed via what hits the mailbox on the front porch weekly and being involved with people from all walks. That and a lifelong reading habit fed by bottomless interest in nearly every human exploit of the last 16 - 18,000 years. Well informed.
Adamantly put, she's done her piece; a lifetime of fire for people everywhere and a planet struggling. I'm just having a hard time letting her go. I keep wanting to stir the ash, look for embers. Connect her to the history making drama of now.
Accutely aware of another great one slipping away, I dredge through our shared history needing to bolster my commitment to a dignified passing. Be at peace with her being at peace.
There among the pages of a 40th anniversary special of Time magazine, my coming of age story is plastered consicely from cover to cover. The book has been sitting around the living room for months, a contribution from little brother. He'd been researching the cultural tempo and mood that was so much a part of our household in his pre- five years.
Inside, I found the necessary grease to release the knot that's made breathing raw for me lately. Page after page of international coverage from the front and center, nightly fodder that we scarfed back then, around the kitchen table the first year of Mom's step out from under a collapsed marriage.
Last night while I listened to the first two thirds of the presidential debate from Mississippi, I read, and was graphically reminded of the year we moved to Bakersfield, 1968. An odd marriage of present pride and shame for our country clamors back down the decades landing splat on that pivotal year.
My focus is interrupted, two thirds of the way through, with a phone call from home. My Merrick, former high school debater, along with her older brother and younger sister, shares a sweet update from home. She reports on her days: hand crafting a subsistance lifestyle in SE Ak. Firewood, smoked fish, poetry and berries for the winter. Her day job with special needs young people, increasing in hours. Plans for this fall's adult puppetry performance: her's, a retelling of Demeter and Persephone's dance, above as below. Travel plans for this year's pocket fluff funded globe trot, down below our most southern borders; to learn more and be with older cultures.
She notices the angry edge in my voice as I relate some of this week's news that she has missed. Her forest shanty, living remotely with out power. My heart feels looser and the sting behind my eyes is nearly gone by the time we hang up.
After her call, I help Ma to the wheelchair and the kitchen table. I toy with following the missed parts of the debate, quietly on the decade old laptop. I continue to read the Time capsule while waiting for sluggish downloads. The "Showdown in The Windy City" cranks up the personal nostalgia, rarely indulged, to a recognizable pulse as I momentarily relive those weeks. The DNC; Chicago's mayor Richard Daley. My adolecent political icons: King, Kennedy newly assasinated, Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Arthur Miller, Paul Newman... Thursa Revenaugh, arguing with her 79 year old mother over why the nation was coming apart at the seams and, "Yes!", her near 16 year old would indeed follow her own drummer and march, black arm band and all. My much younger sisters, quietly busy with crayons, glitter and popcicle stick homework at the end of the kitchen table. Little brother, aged four, daily hiding the newspapers so Mom and Gram won't fight.
In one of the obits for old Paul Saturday morning, he was remembered saying that after a certain age, the memory starts slipping and you just can no longer give the performance you were once capable of and it's okay to be done. I report this to Ma while bringing in the morning paper and helping her to get dry, breakfast, and a cup of coffee.
I told her I thought I'd go out and watch the morning come on from the backyard. She asks if the old Turkey Buzzards were passing over yet and I said no, probably not until late afternoon.
Under the morning shadows, I sit and watch the much smaller societies, busy in the grass and leaves of the Old Pecan, our axis mundi. Garrison's choices for the last two Writer's Almanac: Sept.26, "May Day" by Phillis Levine and Sept.27 "Smoke & Ash" by David Budbill; beautiful works, link up, gently with my moment.
Then, here they come. Low, direct, feathered squadrons. I stand, spread my wings in salute to their timeless personalities and loosen my grip on hanging tough. The dozens sketch swirling black paisley updrafts as I twirl beneath the bottomless, blue eyed sky.


  1. The earth turns, the seasons cycle, and history repeats but never exactly the same way. Thanks for reminding. Thanks for sharing that tightness of throat.


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