Saturday, November 21, 2009

Over the Horizon...Winter Trees and Coming Home.

I took the hottest shower as soon as I got home. Something about traveling leaves me ridiculously ravaged. I arrived last night looking as though I’d been in a black Friday fist fight with a dozen women over forty who assaulted me with shopping bags full of napkin rings and snow globes.

It was dark when I got here, the trees of my neighborhood were skeletal- branches how I remember them, intrinsic veins against the new winter sky. There were so many things: Winding roads and lit windows, the creak of the side door, the laundry room with it’s familiar ambiance...soap and piles of clothes, shoes kicked all over the tile. I could see years of shoes that moment, even the Velcro character shoes and winter boots with mud and snow melting on the same rug. The very same rug on which I kicked off my own shoes and stood still for a moment in the dark. Home.

I took the hottest shower I can ever remember and let myself be closed inside what I knew... the box of home, the box of hallway, the box of bathroom, the box of shower, the box of me. I rummaged through an old dresser in the alcove, still full of suit coats from a four year-old, and all the paraphernalia of Blue Grass Elementary, long since discarded, years of outgrowth packed into those drawers. And as I held a pair of blue pajames I knew so well, I cried and put them on (four buttons missing...a rip down the leg) and realized in so many ways, I have become my mother.

I went downstairs, picked up the dishes (as if I’d never been away) and locked all the doors. I climbed into bed, old pajama pant legs tucked into my socks just like mom used to do, collar turned up, four buttons missing, and me, all held together by the parts of my life that I still had stuffed in a drawer somewhere in the keeping of home.

The rugs in my bathroom are red. Suddenly. Just like when I was a child. I couldn’t help but think that there was some sort of ironic cycle taking place in my world. Coming home is like waking up and remembering who I am, and even though everything comes naturally, there’s a certain curtain of awe over all the simple things I couldn’t notice when I was eleven, or seventeen, or twenty-two. Here, in my own bed, the sound of the heat vent lulls me, and lamplight spills my childhood across the page. I know every tree on the brink of my yard, and the woods, held close by familiar darkness, swathed by the half-moment of night across my curve of open sky. I know the cold that hangs over the grass, frosting the green to a smoke-gray and shimmer by pale morning light. I know the dryer downstairs and the way the stairs creak and the dishwasher hums and the shadows fall, sweet and low from a midnight moon, in patches across the dining room floor.

I am home, and I am finally alive. Walking in, I shed the world and all the masks I’d taken. I shed months of confusion, of striving and pain, loss and brokenness. Now I’m wrapped in an old familiar sheet, and the Lord brought me here. My bed holds me close, cradled, the way it has done for all my life. The old frame creaks, cold to the touch, the white curves having been brushed lightly by the hands of so many of my ages, traced by my fingers over so much time in the mornings before I’ve rolled over and faced pockets of my times: a Mickey Mouse skort, teeth aching from four years of silver braces, High school, a girl utterly ravaged by life, by travels, by Christmas mornings and lazy Saturday afternoons, running under the arch of sprinkler and summer sky. Fear, bare feet, nightmares and sickness. Death and the shadow of a robe thrown over a familiar rocking chair. Then college...and now my hands are twenty-four years old...and I trace the tall white metal of whomever traced this bed before me, a hundred years ago on an Iowa farm where my parents found it-old frame leaning against a weathered barn. For sale.

My cheek is on the pillow. I lay beneath the kindest roof, the sweetest gaze of a hundred trees surrounding my box of heaven. Just outside on the floor of the woods, there’s a top layer of leaves yet to be covered by snow. Beneath this layer is another layer, born all over again and turned to earth by frost and light and God Himself, tracing the curve of my world with one finger. Over the horizon, surely I am yet to find the God of all my goodness. Of All Peace and this cradle of warmth and truth, born of Him. Emmanuel...My Home.

Tonight will be a fearless sleep.

(c) Brittany Rees 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Glass doors and going home.

Right now I’m looking through the glass door at a waning day and the sudden fall of a deep blue, uneasy light. There is no time so uncertain as twilight. 

Sometimes I feel like an animal on display in this office. Passersby glance in the glass door because, of course you just can’t help glancing in a lit doorway. I sit here. And I sit here. And I continue sitting. I make eye contact with 43% of those who happen to linger in curiosity. Yes people, I’m drinking coffee. I’m listening to Viva La Vida and Iron and Wine. Yes, I’m just sitting here. 

But I’m going home in two days.

I feel like these past months are in the cupboard under my sink, keeping company with my unexplored junk: empty shampoo bottles, unopened bars of soap...webs of cords and clutter.  To try to sift through my immeasurable trail of constant thought since August would be like drinking an ocean. Consuming every grain of sand one by one. Counting grass and stars and specks and words and leaves. It would be insane. It would be wrong. There’s too much to know. 

I suppose it will come in waves over the summer. Hints of it will cross my mind in idle moments. As I pump gas, releasing my finger from the trigger while glancing up at the sky in syrupy heat of late afternoon, I will remember the moment I stood in the waving grass of a plantation home in Louisiana a long time ago. Spellbound. Struck with a sense of history and held perfectly still. Captivated.

There need be no correlation. Thoughts will come.  Lost seconds will resurface. I will be reminded with hints so slight as breath in winter, so vague as swallowed words and hapless action. Thoughts will come like inclinations of heartbeats when time froze and I lingered in embarrassment, in shame or pity and stress and wonder; these will rise as I cross a field in July or stop on the stairs on a clear morning, or slam my car door in a Wal-Mart parking lot, running late for something I can’t yet know. 

Abandoned feelings, skin-deep and wild. Neglected hours, simple and vivid. Forgotten instances, frenzied and clear.  I will wait for these disenchanted shrugs of memory, and become what I suddenly remember to realize, even in hollow recollections of faces, voices, and daylight spread out across Tennessee sidewalks. After all, whispers of memory are only illuminated windows on buildings I never noticed, like furtive glances through a glass door along the way.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

  The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
   Like clouds they shape themselves and go.

  But in my spirit will I dwell,
And dream my dream, and hold it true;
For tho’ my lips may breathe adieu,
  I cannot think the thing farewell.

'In Memorium A.H.H'

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dolls poised on pretend floors, whispering.

Sometimes in waking I am taken to a place

Jolted by sound and transported to rushing water

As a baby on a sun-soaked rock

Tilting, little feet gripping

Waved hands, a one-fingered father's holding

Silent but for the tumult of waves.

I always told everyone that I was going to be an artist, and at seven I thought I could rediscover detail for everyone and become famous for bringing this awakening to the world. Details were new back then, because I realized that I could get lost in the things that nobody ever mentioned. Objects. Dust. Bricks. Ceiling cracks. Light spilling through windows. Scenes through an open door. Eyebrows. Individual blades of grass. Mantles and pictures framing faces of people I thought I knew. Tilting flowers. Garbage. All drawn very small because everybody else lived on without noticing they were there. I believed I could be a sort of hero by gathering lost images in my mind and penciling them in scenes of make-believe. Giving them a place in a perfect world. 

And I made up worlds for myself daily, getting lost in some for hours...literally becoming The Indian in the Cupboard, and Thumbelina for entertainment. I made villages of sticks and rocks and told myself stories. I walked alone across the shore of Lake Superior for hours just talking to myself, telling myself fantastic stories about lost heroes and wild animals in the night. I went alone to our dark basement and paced the floor as I bounced a little ball against the walls and told myself story after story out loud...Each one drenched with details about mother’s raising their coffee cup to their lips and feelings exposed in father’s eyes, and fences and dialogue and secret compartments filled with wonder and antiquity. I just wanted to be alone, and to ruminate on little things that my characters did. The way they walked. Opened a mailbox. Entered a crowded room. Reacted with silence. Always silence: Birds on power lines. Wind across the sand. Sunlight in an empty bedroom...spilling across furniture in a dollhouse and the blank faces of dolls poised on pretend floors, whispering. 

Years went by, and I couldn’t grow out of it. 12, 15, 17, 18, 19....The desire to make up stories became embarrassing. Now I am careful to admit that I can’t do anything repetitive without forgetting that I am actually in my life. I cannot brush my teeth without becoming some fantastic character in peril. When I try to change my sheets, I automatically start thinking about an undiscovered place and every detail to describe it. When I walk, when I load the dishwasher, when I doodle trees and vacuum rugs I am having another dialogue between two people in another world far away. 

I hate pulling myself up out of a poem and the webs of words I weave for places I wish I could really know.