She wanted to see the birds so we stopped at the pond and walked until she said she was tired. She'll be 81 in November and I can see the year we met on her face, hidden there deep in the fine line between her left eye and the bent turn of her smile. We walked, quietly admiring the clouds set deep in the sky, turning each corner with us and gently hiding the sun between gusts of white light.
And I held her hand as long as I could and then she was gone, walking along paved paths with the sweet hum of her hymnal heartbeat. I tried to keep up. And the clouds, she held them on strings like small children. These same soft hands that used to hold brushes, wet with color and dream.
Soft tip pressing against pulled canvas. I search her canvases, study each stroke, follow the gentle pleats of each blend, looking for the parts of her she left to be found, like the deep set wrinkles of history and age, sand and storm, joy and warmth.
I have been forcing smaller steps here. Letting the road in front of me stay open and spacious. I have things to do. Yet, it's always the brush and the page, the noonday chime. The dishes stack and the laundry sits and the acorns fall with such force, I duck for cover and the wiry spine stays open and catches whatever falls.
There is the gentle moment when the tip of a brush meets it's page. There is hesitancy and caution. There is the measure of paint and depth and soaked tips and water dripping. There are the lines that wait to be filled and the porous thirst of a one firm held piece of watercolor paper.
And these pages of life aren't so black and white. The pencil lines can be erased and moved. There is space for the blended comfort of almost's and maybe's and... This. This, is the best I can do.
And the things I thought were red are no longer red and the blues move quietly into greens and the pinks transformed in the raised coat of clear water omissions. And the hard lines of pen and pencil, black and white and force, these lines soften under this watery relief.
There is the cloud behind the cloud, the star behind the star, the wave behind the wave, the eye behind the tear, the breath behind the heart.
And it folds in on itself revealing what's in front and what's behind, gentle and pressing all at once.
The colors blur and wrestle to form this new shade of whisper, taking away the hard edges. And as each color blends with the other, the water leaning up against the other, forming tribes of vermillion and splendor, I wait for the skeletal outlines of trees, their last shade of autumn hanging against dark skies.
This light bumps up against the dark, living and communing without combat. Because sometimes the bruised sky, the impending storm, is just the backdrop for the light to shine against.
And she offered to pay for ice cream, so they ran, feet flying past shades of green and olive, viridian and pea. All blending together to birth sunday pasture imprints.
And the blue is no longer blue and the cloud is no longer a cloud and a star is no longer a star and this heart is no longer a heart.
And the clouds move, submerged in sea and it's watery depths of pale gray and aqua and newspaper whites and the pencil lines grow softer still.
These waves hold quiet uncertainty, straddled with gift rising and spring's hand reaching, gently raising a finger to it's lip, beauty sleeping under the stoney deep.
And sometimes it feels like I am waving from far away,
And I wonder if this tiny hand moving even matters, or if it's like the wave of one small bird's wing, keeping it attached to the sky.
And this brush is no longer a brush,
P.S. The winner for last week's One Year Giveaway is Debra Moffit.