by Zinta Aistars
What does one do with the quiet?
When all has been ruckus and turmoil and upheaval and rush rush and this way and that way and one long, seemingly endless roller-coaster ride? The annual report has been written, even the first onslaught of edits completed. The new furnace has been negotiated and installed, purring warmly now. Brand spanking new AC unit huddles now against the house, smug with waiting power to chill; I no longer fear the summer. The spring issue of The Smoking Poet has been launched, hundreds of submissions read, examined, pondered, processed, replied to, yay or nay, giving others future hope, the template lovingly patched together, the interviews completed and posted, the Good Cause chosen and added, the promotions distributed. Meetings have been attended, eyes with great determination kept open. Concerts heard, the bliss of vibrating strings, the low resonance of a double bass, sending shivers and making fine hairs stand on end. Oh. Dinners, wonderfully enjoyed. Friends’ faces adored. Blessings counted, without end. Calls made, plans made, wish lists written and rewritten. Post-its posted, in rows, one atop the other, yet another, a covering of golden shingles across all bare surfaces, do not forget, never forget, do not lose track of the yellow brick road to Oz. Books read, highlighted and underlined, and reviewed, for better or for worse. Family attended to, ailing health of loved ones’ monitored and bettered, pampering administered, there-there’s issued. Hugs, to whomever asks sincerely. Kisses, as yet withheld. New parameters drawn, fence lines calculated and measured, gate opened and shut. And shut again. Dishes washed and put away, laundry pre-soaked, stain-treated, washed, dried, folded, stashed away. Errands run, a scramble of chutes and ladders, pouring into and out of traffic, rat racing and twirling, back and forward again. Mail sorted and piled up again, bills paid and stashed away. Sinks scrubbed, trash expelled, meals prepared, rugs beaten to near death. This dancing, this dancing, this mad dancing, this madness of dancing, this dancing of madness.
And then a long walk. A stray Sunday. Unspoken for and unpromised to any other.
Down the winding path. Chowpup on leash, pulling me along when at moments I forget the routine: one foot in front of the other. What is this silence of the woods? This soft air? This warm glance of sun across my cheek?
The ground is damp with leaf cover from last fall, Portage Creek churns and bubbles with anticipation, and I sit on the bench to watch and listen. Dog at my feet. To this bubbling silence. Thinking of northern places and so many other roads not taken. Where might I be. If. When. Maybe. Might have been.
What is this odd weeping, wet on my face, brought into sun? So. It takes time. And silence. And an empty space within the rush of days. Old grief to release. An ancient wailing. A howling at the moon of many moons ago, withheld. Submerged. Left under the cover of now melting snow.
I consider this: in part, the rush, it is a mask one wears. A place of hiding, within all that turmoil of busy busy. Here, by the creek, in a splatter of rising crystal bubblings, is some old truth.
Today, I take the time.