The light moved fast, painting shadows over the faded green field. There was the last cold kiss of a regular Tuesday and my hands cupped his fingers as his feet swept the frosted field. There was the crack of branch and swing of arms and the quick break of fingers falling apart from the nest of palm and thumb. And there was the race to the pond, the sound of nylon scratching with each stride and his small chirp of discovery.
The air was still and we made small waves with our hum and breath. The abandoned cities of cattails and tall bent grasses opened doors and windows to mark our return. And the quiet light sent secret messages only our hearts could hear.
And there was a yawn in the bend of his hand, a hollowed out center that yearned to be thread with the quiet presence of love and her melodic song.
And it was his small fingers inside my hand, the pulse under his nails, the criss cross veins running alongside my worn wrinkles that told me to listen.
The red winged blackbirds were gone. The ones that dove under deep blue skies and sang in urgency as we moved around the nests once filled with egg and chick.
And her voice, the one hidden behind thunder, the warning that rumbles behind the protective mama heart, telling the rain just where to land. She was there, in the shadow of fall, under winter's restless light. She whispered. This is home.
She said she needed words. Something that could line the inside of her coat on winter days, when the light felt broken and dim. And there was some kind of respite in her wings, a hiding place from all of the feeling and hurting. And her feathers were lined with dust, the kind that came from uncovering secrets.
Sometimes the light can bend in a certain direction, turning all of the leaves into wings, the branches into bare, naked limbs reaching for the nearest cloud. And there, when the light is just right, I can see the outline of her nest, still warm with memory.
These fingers entwined, these moments engrained, are the intricate weaving of her smile, her eyes bright with hello, a dangling paintbrush between two loose fingers. It is the faint breath between twig and leaf, the protection and warmth seated in the depth of her hold.
He held the nest close and lifted a leaf from its center.
"It's made from all that remains, the stuff left behind. A shoelace or wrapper from some old gum. A broken piece of grass or ribbon left in the rain. Bits of paper and mud. It's all here. Inside this little nest. Nothing is forgotten."
And her love feels like the wind blowing even when the windows are closed.
And there are the times I feel most alone in the forest, when I can no longer identify specie or skin, when the smell of grass is dull and the bark no longer a pattern to follow. When my eyes are closed and the caves covered with doors of boulder and stone.
"Will you hold my hand?"
And her words of love, the ones she wrote on the insides of her fingers, so when our hands met, I could feel her story told between my thumb and the curve of her nail. These words are my ladder to this place you call home.
"Will you hold my hand?"
"I already am."
And I can hear her quiet song on the flutter of a bird's wing, carrying away the worry, the fear, the small voices caught in nets. And the place she wrote her story still remains on these hands, each vein a path past grown wrinkles and tree lined fingertips, each holding a nest from their wiry bends.
And her heart, the one that shines each time a leaf lifts in a breeze. Her heart, entwined in the deepest part of this nest, rests with each rise and fall of breath.
So I move things around, make a space for the cutting and grafting, the weaving and stitching, the building of nest and home. So these moments, woven in love, the curl of her hair, the way her eyes filled with tears just before she laughed, the way her voice paused before exclamation, the way the light would soak up her motherhood just so it could shine. I will place you here. Forever.
And I remember the hands that cradled this wreck of a girl with one, curled lash wink, the way love can sometimes feel like a leap, a dance over hot stone ash.
And the fragile walk through dark forests, searching, while your hands lift me over thorn and brush. And there you are, making friends with the moon, smiling over a bent sunset, pushing its warm blanket over our skin. And your song, the fingers tucking in each loose corner.
And to find love perched, held between breaths, enough time for my eyes to fill with tears. Sometimes all I can see are the lashes under her eyes, all of the wishes set loose on the wind, and the sunset when the waves were so loud we had to yell over their roars.
I will place you here. Between the dew of this one morning and the crest of this fallen night. Your love thread between wrapper and twig, damp clay and fallen hair. Between the bend of my finger and the joint of his hand. In the motherhood I forgot to own and the friendship I carry in the smallest pocket of my heart, this nest,
made from all that remains.
*And a film made during the creation of this shadowbox, filmed by the lovely, Lara Vagenius. Thank you, beautiful girl.