Thursday, November 14, 2013

How We Do It: Part XXXVII of a Series: Fragment

I took Sophie to the osteopath this morning, and she placed her gentle hands on Sophie and worked to move and heal her. In her silent room with a view of the gray Pacific, doves cooing on the sill, the doctor spoke softly and I lay my head on Sophie's stomach and closed my eyes and breathed in calming myself, breathing out smile. We spoke of Dr. Viola Frymann, the great and now very old osteopath who saw Sophie regularly when she was a baby and whose influence on me is immeasurable. I heard the gurgling of Sophie's stomach beneath my head, felt the infinitesimal jerks of her body, let tears slide out of my eyes, the memory of Sophie as a baby, the hopes for her, the compromises and acceptance, the despair and love and acceptance again, even of death. When I drove home, the cars ahead and around me glinting in a too-hot Los Angeles morning, I thought of the angry voices of the internet from that morning, those who call other mothers irresponsible for what they do and don't do for their children, the endless and interminable vaccination argument, black and white and how clicking them off, shutting those voices, xing them out, angry and stupid, doesn't still or instill anything. Sit with me, here, I think, lay your head, here, next to mine. Listen. Lower your voice. Abide.

Of course! The path to heaven doesn't lie down in flat miles. It's in the imagination with which you perceive this world, --

The Swan

Across the wide waters
     something comes
          floating—a slim
             and delicate

ship, filled
     with white flowers—
          and it moves
             on its miraculous muscles

as though time didn't exist,
     as though bringing such gifts
          to the dry shore
             was a happiness

almost beyond bearing.
     And now it turns its dark eyes,
          it rearranges
             the clouds of its wings,

it trails
     an elaborate webbed foot,
          the color of charcoal.
             Soon it will be here.

Oh, what shall I do
     when that poppy-colored beak
          rests in my hand?
             Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:

I miss my husband's company—
     he is so often
          in paradise.
             Of course! the path to heaven

doesn't lie down in flat miles.
     It's in the imagination
          with which you perceive
             this world,

and the gestures
     with which you honor it.
          Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those
             white wings
           touch the shore?

Mary Oliver


  1. The tears were sliding out of my eyes as I read all of your beautiful words. I hope Sophie is feeling better after yesterday. And you too.

  2. Not only is the path to heaven not as we imagine it, heaven isn't either. That's what I think.
    I also think that the way you look at your daughter is the way angels must look at the saints.

  3. I am so sorry that Sophie fell, that she has to suffer any further injury. And I find myself amazed that after an exhausting afternoon with my own special needs daughter, that once again, yours words Elizabeth so perfectly elucidate what I am feeling at this moment. I don't feel so alone after reading this. Your words are a string of lights on a dark path. Sending love to you and Sophie. May tomorrow be better.

  4. I think the world is lucky that you use your words for good because, damn woman, they are powerful. The depth of wisdom floors me sometimes.

  5. This broke my heart wide open - the picture, your words. You are an absolute force of nature. Sweet Jo

  6. My heart hurts for her, and for you.

  7. Beautiful beyond bearing. The words and the love in your eyes.

  8. I want to say something but don't know how to say it right, I don't have the words, just a feeling that won't arrange itself in words. So I will just say I am here, loving you both, wishing.

  9. "...doesn't still or instill anything."
    You are a very wise woman and an extremely loving mama.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...