I’m sunk into a red sports chair in the shade under the backyard maple. The site of the Great Lilac Massacre is behind me and in front is the home of the baby bluebird murders. In my mind, I still see the blood-splashed walls and little pecked heads.
The grandgirl no longer plays softball, but the pink ribbon outline of her pitcher’s practice target remains tied to the black chain link fence. (The ribbon used to be red.) A robin perches above it. White clouds shred themselves across the sky.
Dandelion leaves stud the leathery periwinkle carpet that trembles in the embrace of poison ivy. Why are green leaves falling? I hear an oriole’s trill but can’t locate it. The air smells like a blend of dog doo and peony. I should get a shovel, but for now I sit.
A white cabbage butterfly flits over the waves of tall field grass weighed down with seed.
The tree flounces its skirt in the breeze. My daughter’s swimsuit dangles from a white plastic hanger hooked in the eye of the clothesline. The wind picks up and wraps the skirt around the line. Now the suit stretches out horizontal, swimming in the wind, going nowhere.
The sun is moving, and I move my chair away from it, back into the shade.
I’m outside watching and dozing and watching for an hour before I notice the baby cones atop the thinning, knob-scarred pine. Or the propellers (helicopter seeds) bunched together like green tissue-paper flowers above my head. Light strobes through the leaves and reminds me of a disco ball.
Mary Oliver tried to count leaves.
I count the Y’s.
I count the whys.
I see a twigged Y at my feet.
Dead wood piled behind me.
Light-dappled, disco-ball grace in front.
Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening. I will never understand the silent dying of the green pie-apple tree if I do not slow down and listen…”
For the next twelve weeks I’m going to intentionally practice slowing down, becoming mindful in place. I don’t have time for it in this season’s life chaos, which is exactly why I needed to enroll Tweetspeak Poetry’s online workshop of that name. I think they designed it with me in mind. This is a reflection from our first writing assignment, to simply sit and record what we see.
In the stillness,
Will you take a few minutes today to be still? Tell me what you see.