Posts Tagged ‘life’

The Last Dance

“No matter how close to yours another’s steps have grown, in the end there is one dance you’ll do alone.” -Jackson Browne

My birthday was yesterday, and it was my first one without my father. He would have sent me photographs or a music video, or called me from Spain for the occasion. I missed that, but I wore his scarf to remember the scent of him.

I often think of how he and my mother ushered me into this wild dance of life. He would tell me the story laughingly, of how he drove my mother to the hospital and they helped her onto a stretcher, and left him in the waiting room. She was so ready, that before they could wheel her down the hall into a room, I was suddenly born. The doctor turned the stretcher around, called for my father and showed him my fat little body squirming and crying. I was 11 pounds and 2 ounces they tell me! I have always tried not to hurt anyone and I suppose on that single occasion, I succeeded. Her labor was over just like that. I was so fat, my father said, that my forehead was folded and almost covering my eyes. I had arrived in my usual style, clumsy and overly dramatic.

When I think of my father, it saddens me that I was not there to take his hand and usher him out of this world as he had ushered me in. I didn’t know it was his time while I was dreaming about Christmas with him in Spain. He departed just after Easter on my son’s birthday.

My mother and I still talk of him. She says he was quite a dancer. I believe that he was and I like to imagine it. I can see them scooting across a wooden floor in our living room, she in a lilac dress with a thick corn silk braid flowing to her waist, and soft flat lavender shoes. He is wearing a light saffron shirt with rolled up sleeves and a hickory vest, black pants and tai chi shoes. Her swan-like arms lay across his amber elbows; one hand rests on his shoulder and strokes his espresso hair. She is soft as bread and he is spicy like cinnamon. Their eyes of blue and brown dance together like water and wood.

But the curtain begins to close, the music is fading and I can’t quite hear the song. I  barely hear soft shoes and gentle high and deep voices on the dance floor. They will always dance together within the red satin lining of my music box heart.

 

 

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A few weeks ago I noticed that the wreath next to my door was looking dirty so I thought I would clean it up. But when I took a closer look, I realized that some bird had constructed a little nest inside a large loop of the pink mesh ribbon. The nest was a bit smaller than the palm of my hand, made of sticks and dry grass and lined with downy white feathers. I was so pleased and excited about the prospect of eggs and a hatching family. I found myself taking a peek whenever I passed by.

First I noticed two rose finches hopping in and out of the wreath whenever I walked inside or outside. It seemed like a lot of trouble to always have to dart out of the nest so quickly, but they didn’t seem to mind the effort. They would fly out with roller coaster dips and swirls into a tree across the street, or sometimes they would hop onto the roof and look curiously at me. The father would puff out his rose colored chest and tilt his beak. The mother was brown like a sparrow, but seemed to have a little tuft on her head. I named the two of them Atticus and Scout.

One day after the nearby lawn was mowed, I noticed Atticus perched on the porch rail with a beak full of grass, and it looked like a tiny brown star. He paused for a second to look at me, dropped his little star and flew away. Soon I noticed him and Scout perched side by side on the rain gutter looking down at me. I decided to put a small table under the wreath, and filled a little bowl there with sunflower seeds. Very soon, the porch began to get messy with shells everywhere, little purple berry poops, and mutilated worms. Were the birds bringing me presents or just having breakfast?

The happy incident took place on Easter morning! I spotted four little pale blue eggs in the nest. I began to read about the average times for birds to hatch and mature, and kept putting out sunflower seeds for the happy couple. I was looking forward to hearing the chirps of baby birds in the nest.

A few days later, there was a fifth egg on the edge of the nest. My father told me to read about the Magpie and said that some birds steal other birds’ nests. I told him that sounds like some people I know. One day I spied a handsome mockingbird fluttering in and out of the nest. I wondered what he was doing there. A chickadee started popping up every day and I didn’t see Atticus around anymore.

One day I saw that the mysterious fifth egg had fallen off the edge of the nest and into the seed dish. I wondered if Scout had deliberately kicked it out. It was broken into two halves and I could see the yellow lining. A few days after that I noticed that two more of the eggs had been moved out of the nest towards the edge. I wondered why, but I put a little blanket on the table to catch falling eggs and prevent breakage. It didn’t work, because soon two more were broken on the floor of the porch. A fourth one tumbled and shattered soon after that.

One little pale blue egg remains and it has been there alone now for over a week and the parents seem to have deserted it. I found myself feeling sorry for it and even identifying with it. All of its siblings are broken and the nest is empty. I picked it up and turned it towards the sunlight, and through the shell it looks like candy corn with gold on the bottom and white on top.

I don’t know if it will ever hatch or if Scout will return, but I suppose I will eventually adopt it. I will take its nest out of the wreath and place it on the mantle. Then I will sweep up the carnage on the porch- the egg fragments and worms and poops and twigs and sunflower shells. I have found out that we humans are not the only creatures that know how to make messes of our lives, and that mistakes are just as natural as the seasons.

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