Monday, February 18, 2008

Love Song to This Night

Don’t you write it down
Remember this in your head
Don’t take a picture
Remember this in your heart
Don’t leave a message
Talk to me face to face
Talk to me face to face

("Dead Man's Hill" Indigo Girls)

I wish you could have seen it. I wish your hand was in mine, balanced amid the heavy stick I carry, with its pale bark, smooth except for the places on the ends where Duncan chewed before I realized it would make a fine weapon should a situation arise which called for a weapon. Your hand would've felt warm and of a good weight, although Duncan would've pulled us, anxious as he always is to get to the top of the hill, and we would've had to adjust and tighten our grip just to keep touching through our gloves and mittens. But we wouldn't have minded because the sky was so gloriously pink and gold, and the silhouettes of those two kites, black against the brilliance of the sunset, would've pulled us as anxiously as Dunc. There was wind tonight, but we would've laughed into it, glancing at each other and not speaking, listening instead to the melting of the day and the flapping of those kites on their delicate strings as the wind caught and pulled them. And there was the laughing of the children, too, tiny captains of their ships who did not want help from the shape of mom or dad–their bodies were dark against the sky and nothing but shadows of big people. Not children. But it was time for them to go and so each of them reeled in and reeled in, a quick twisting and heavy work for small wrists. The kites fought, or the wind fought, it was difficult to tell which, especially with the sound of the fabric slapping against the air and struggling like a fish on a hook. But slowly they descended and for a moment I forgot I was standing, holding my own kite, a ground kite, red and warm and four-legged. I forgot my feet belonged to the earth and imagined I was up there, tethered to a string and struggling to stay afloat amid all that color, the explosion of the day against the fist of night. I didn't want to come down. Down is not in my nature. I belong here, high above the hill and the lake on the edge of the mountains with people looking up rapturously at my flight. But that child pulled and pulled and I could almost hear heavy breaths and the struggle of the tiny heart as it worked and worked that flapping air fish. The kite came down, losing its silhouette and becoming a thing of color, drab compared to the sunset, manufactured and plastic, its illusion blown away with the wind, its tails little more than long, thin streamers of a sliced garbage bag. No wonder it fought to stay aloft. Some things, as Monet knew, look better from a distance, behind a fog, slightly out of focus. Some things are not meant to be seen up close. Cautiously the child reached up, caught the kite at the place where it met the string and I swear I could feel that tiny hand on me, pulling me to earth, gently keeping me from crashing into the brittle grass. Standing there I realized I'd been holding my breath, which is why it would've been good to have you there. You would've said, "Curt, breathe," and I would've. And once that moment was over it would've been nice to see your face painted in sunset and to turn with you and walk back down the hill, the east dark before us, Orion already peeking up over the plains, the moon above, a flock of geese taking flight from their sanctuary on the baseball field below. How glorious it would've been to have seen them from the other side, the side facing the sunset, all those heavy bodies flapping and struggling for flight, resisting gravity and its sirenous kiss. With you, in this night, walking would've been like flying and the memory would last forever.

4 comments:

Lisa said...

Lovely writing, Curt. You paint a beautiful picture. And what lucky kids whose parents braved the cold and left the couch for kite-flying.

Ruth said...

Fave #1: "But that child pulled and pulled and I could almost hear heavy breaths and the struggle of the tiny heart as it worked and worked that flapping air fish."

The heart worked the fish? The child worked the fish? Yes and yes. Because it's effortless sometimes it's difficult to notice the work of my heart to love, to balloon with joy. But other times I feel the work--difficult, but not impossible. It's a muscle like all the rest.


Fave #2: "No wonder it fought to stay aloft. Some things, as Monet knew, look better from a distance, behind a fog, slightly out of focus. Some things are not meant to be seen up close."

So true. And it reminds me that sometimes we have to see up close, and the seeing-up-close can be heart-work as well, especially when what's seen is seeing back.

Lovely writing, my friend. Thank you for taking me with you!

Kevi said...

I wonder if everyone thinks you are writing about their mittened hand. We'll let it be our secret.

muse said...

Oh my! That was beautiful.