Friday, December 27, 2013

Sorting cows on Christmas

Later, after the sky has changed
from silver 
with a rim of pink
lacing the Ruby Mountains

to a pale airy blue,
we shuffle from pajamas
into jeans and carhartts
and leave the warmth 

of the wood stove for the cold
bluegold of the day.  We sort
the three oldest calves 

into a new pen, leave them
with a bit of grain to ease
the transition.  They watch us

from behind long frosted lashes,
as we leave them 
to their new home.

For me, the day that follows
Christmas morning has never looked
quite like this.  As a child

my family went skiing after presents,
or my sister and i began to pack
for our cross-country flight

the next morning to visit our dad.
I still feel somewhat unaccustomed to
the life of a farmer, the serious

need of the animals waiting for you.
The responsibility of taking 
good care.  I am even less prepared

for my own willingness to trade in
my perceptions of what a perfect holiday
should look like, to walk through cold

sunny fields to do the work of a rancher
on Christmas.  But I am willing, and I 
continue to be surprised by my ability

to stretch 
and become someone
I never knew I could be. 
This  year I was very aware
of the fluidity of tradition.  
Most of our Christmas storage bins

stayed unopened in the basement.
Instead, simplicity.  Fewer decorations,
few gifts, less stuff.  More time

and space for the meaningful
bits of our days, the elemental.
Wood for warmth, candles for light,
meals grown and raised
entirely on our own land.

And I keep waiting for the let down,
the post-holiday low after 
so much anticipation.

But I'm starting to realize
it's not coming this year.
That I am ready to move forward

into the new year, into the heart 
of winter, with a new kind of trust
in the rightness of my days.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

the pictures I didn't take

It snowed last night.  Even when you know
to expect it, there is something so surprising
about waking up in a world that looks so different
than the one you fell asleep in.

My parents have both asked me in the last few days;
have you been writing about all of this?

And I haven't.

I've put together phrases in my head
and I've thought a lot about writing

as my imagined version of the next year
shifts and remakes itself.

I haven't taken pictures either, though
I have all these images in mind
of pictures I didn't take 
over the last eight weeks.

The image of myself
standing at the bathroom sink
holding the test and breathing
out one quiet expletive 
as I watched the tiny screen change.

Or the list of names
held to the refrigerator with a magnet, 
written in Amelia's neat
handwriting.  The soft fleece
of a tiny sweater that I'd packed away
years ago.  Smiling and 
thinking how I hadn't planned
to need it again.

Or sitting in the the waiting room,
knowing before anyone else did
that something wasn't right, 
that the tiny ocean I carried inside
was a much quieter place
than it should have been.

Or the way my body refused
to loosen its grip, and the strange
days of waiting for an ending.

I am raking leaves and waiting to miscarry.
I am splitting firewood and waiting to miscarry.
I am lying awake in bed waiting to miscarry.

Then finally the surgery,
the sweet nurses who said they were sorry,
the white round lights of the operating room,
the bits of memory wiped clean with anesthesia,
that slowly resurfaced
hours or days later.

Or thinking it was all finally over
the moment my dr. called to tell me
there could be dangerous cells
that were left behind, there will be 
testing and more testing 

How do you feel?

Really, the simplest words are best.
I don't know.

I'm reminding myself that now is not the time
for grand decisions
but all I want is for something to change,
it feels like not enough
to simply pick up
where my life left off
in October.

I have the utmost faith in time.
I know I will feel differently in a week,
or a month.  But I'm trying to tell myself
that's it's okay to not let this go yet.
As my friend, Sarah, wrote me, I need 
"to sit and feel what I'm feeling - let it
weave and wave its way out."

The snow is still falling,
a bit lighter now.
Just this, stopping to put it all
into words
was what I needed.
To give these weeks the weight they deserve,
to hold them until 
they are not so heavy
and I can carry them
with something like grace.

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