What Strange & Resilient Things

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Oh, all the strange & resilient things that don the old trees in the wet winter forest.

On the weathered faces of those sleeping giants, clever mushrooms appear like five o’clock shadow. Their roots, stretching out across the plush carpet of decay like callused & twisted toes, are graced with fuzzy green socks of thick moss, rich in color. And around every naked trunk, wrinkled & leathery like roughly aged necks, are fashioned snug scarves of ivy vines.

High up, the wizened branches may crack & creak, like ancient bones in cold discomfort, but down below, damp leaves, like blankets of freshly shed skin, silently compress into fresh fabrics for spring clothing.

 

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You Filled a Space

Here
Small & safe
You are warmth
You filled a space
Wherein echoed the lonely tune
Of a wanting harmony
And you taught it joy & fear

Tears
I will kiss
Them, reserve
Them on my lips
For suckling at each moistened bloom
Roots of an eager seed
Whose dreams are thirsty, my dear

Cheer
Heart ablaze
Only you
Only your face
Could stir such stasis into wonder
In pools of pride-sick eyes
For you taught them joy & fear

Years
Coming breaths
The blessed heights
The plunging depths
Enlightened nightmares threaten thunder
That tears ‘cross aching skies
In a world without you here

 

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Seasonal Depression

There was little reason for that routine evening drive to be particularly memorable. All I can think is that it was already late December, so by this point in the year I fully expected to be settled into the cold, desaturated world of seasonal depression. Upon my return to Ohio from a week in sunny Texas, I prepared myself to see nothing but plains of white twisted with varying lines of black, every scene frozen under a vast shroud of gray.

But all the way down that seven mile stretch of road from the highway exit to my heart’s home, I was blessed by paintings of gentle colors flickering through my car windows. The decomposing earth produced a grayish-green sea about the scattered islands of rusty leaves. The wet tree skeletons donned an array of plum & mossy browns. Hazy purples were thickly present in the damp atmosphere. The low sun poured out a sheer veil of soft, mango light over the prevailing winter.

The joy I received from this seemed to rise up slowly from within myself, like warmth radiating out toward the beauty around me & spreading over my skin, like a tide reaching up from the ocean to kiss the lover shore.

But just as the tide must always recede back into deeper water, so does joy in the wintertime.

It is January now, & I am still thinking about that drive, recalling the journey fondly as a blur of muted colors—my favorites.

The scenery now has entirely given itself over to a jumble of leftover browns & dirty white, & the sky has already faded into a ceiling of drooping gray.

I am by the window with my notebook, as is my preference during this evening hour, when the sun is warm & golden in its descent & casts a romantic glow over everything that is usually so painfully unremarkable. This is my favorite hour, my only happy escape from the tedium of the season.

I am waiting for the streams of gold to trickle out upon the frost. There. I can almost see it! Wait. No. No, not today. Today, the sun is not going to come. The gray ceiling has chosen to be merciless. Today it is truly solid, a thick, even coating of bleakness; it offers no break for the soft winter sunbeams to peak through for me.

With a numb scowl, I accept what is denied me but remain by the window until the filtered light is fully under the horizon. Only God knows if the ceiling will break tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day either.

I bitterly think that it would be best not to hope for things at all in these downcast months. So, I turn & resolve to expect no more moments of awesome joy from nature, or anything else, until the appearance of Spring.

 

 

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A Spectacle of Decay

The backyard, a spectacle of decay. Today has brought a strong wind to shake this familiar yet ever-changing scene. It rattles the window, bends the branches, causes chaotic waves through the fluttering sea of dry leaves upon the ground.

I try to focus on one leaf—this is me. The wind blows, & I am sent rolling over the crests of the currents. Which way is up? Which way is down? For a brief second, I am caught on a broken twig. It is then I see my brothers & sisters are all around me, tumbling about in the same way. Like a light turned on, the chaos is now a dance; we are all part of something much bigger, which we participate in but is beyond our control. The air finally settles & takes a moment to fill its lungs again for the next hearty gust. Meanwhile, its shorter, restorative breaths rock me back & forth. They lift me, just enough to give me hope of flying but not enough to allow such a thrill to come again so soon. So I wait patiently, this time ready to let the wind take me back into the beautiful tumult with peace & acceptance in my veins.

I ponder my life through the eyes of this leaf for another moment before, suddenly, the leaf next to it catches my eye. It still has, under its speckled skin, some of the yellows & oranges of its glory days, bright as a flame, nesting in its home tree. It’s larger & more intact than some of the others—this is also me, how I was before I, too, became a victim of circumstance, fell into decay. I have seen the fate of this leaf, & it makes my heart ache for my own.

I look up to the treetops & hope to see a leaf that has not yet succumbed to the plague of the season. Alas, I found none. Au contraire, I find a fate worse than that of those on the ground; on the treetops I find leaves that refused to let go & embrace their inevitable return to the earth. Those leaves are blackened & shriveled. They will eventually fall off—yes, they all do, no matter how tightly they cling to life—yet they will never know the feeling of flying. They will fall into the fluttering sea like pebbles, crumble upon the waves like ash.

The sky seems to darken. I turn away from the window, fold back into the curves & corners of the house. In my chair, with my book in hand, I sway with the sifting sound of the wind, as if it can still reach me through the solid walls, as if it could, at any moment, still stir up my heart in a way that would make me fly.

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His Estella

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I let the story seep into me, let the words shed light on my own shadow-distorted memories that had haunted me since first her existence was made known to me; never before had I thought of, never before had I found, a more perfect explanation for what it was than this:

She was,
to him,
His Estella,
Lovely
And terrible
All the same.

 

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