A Mother With Grown Children Is a Controlled Experiment
Night of the Living If the constellation of stars above your house looks like a woman skating across a lake you could name it that. If someone long before you called it warrior with a sword or dragon at the gate, it doesn’t matter, it’s your sky now. If you’re lost in the evening fog all your former selves line up by the side of the road to show you the way home. If you want to pry open the moon and crawl inside, remember the sky waits like a clock for you to unwind. The planets contain the fur of wooly mammoths and fossilized ferns that never got to be trees. Your position relative to them is what you think about when night is a rabbit hole and sleep is a coin toss. A hand moves across your face in a dream you are having about being alive. When you wake up the hand disappears along with the way it felt to be dreaming, on the edge of some great adventure. The shadows of owls against the trees are not owls but you can pretend the sound of branches against the window is someone trying to get in. You can breathe and imagine the night breathes with you.
Taxonomy A group of mathematicians is an equation. Unless they are at a party and then they are a problem. Two or three architects is a situation. More than that and the building collapses. A subdivision snakes through property that used to be farmland. Part of the field remains and a few rusted tractors linger like men at a grange hall gathering who would rather mumble to each other than dance. My son worries about gentrification in the old neighborhood. He thinks no one will have a place to live. Neighborhood meetings with city planners are not funerals. No one sings and prayers are offered silently. Pray for the view of the mountain that will soon be obstructed by condominiums. Unless you find tall buildings beautiful. Then rejoice at the way concrete obliterates the field. A group of condo dwellers is the answer to a question posed by developers everywhere, but no one knows the question or how to measure its importance. When I was seven I lived across the street from a horse and fed it apples from a tree nearby. Its mouth scared me. I thought it might devour my hand if it had the chance, thinking my hand was part of the apple. A horse behind a fence is progress, but only if you’re not the horse. The first time I let my kids walk to school by themselves I went with them to the end of the street and watched until they arrived at the top. They turned and waved at me, standing at the bottom of the hill. Did I tell them I would stand and wait? Or did they just know. Then they turned the corner, out of my sight, to walk the few remaining blocks to school alone. Now my children are adults. A mother with grown children is a controlled experiment. How long can she go without thinking of them and how she used to hold their entire bodies in the width of her arms.