Literati! Most (all) of the mistakes I have made and continue to make in life are crass, crude, awkward and alienating. Laura Girardeau, on the other hand, would like to inform us that mistakes can actually be graceful.
Walking in Suburbia
by Laura Girardeau
I live in an undulating bowl of mama belly, green thighs open to sky. I live in a tilled, shaven place, where land is mown but nature wins. I live in the sameness of suburbia, trying to find eternal breath.
Here I am again, stroller clicking down perfect sidewalks, a clock losing time. I’m trapped in safety, ruled by regularity. But one night, like a divining rod, my daughter points to “Wawa.”
We find The Pond, a graceful mistake, behind beige apartments: a human-dug second thought near soccer fields. One eternal breath and I decide: it’s enough.
Redwing songs bounce like light off water. Are they defending territory or voicing joy? Cottonwoods cast love spells, in spring with glossy buds the scent of passion, in summer with floating wishes.
Suddenly, a wildflower like a maiden: bronze nose and petal hair forever blown by wind. Like me once, a maiden with purple bandana, becoming herself in wild mountains. Called “Shooting star,” I named it “Purple lady with her hair in the wind who knows what she wants.” I thought I’d never see them again, this flower and myself, misplaced in suburbia.
Clutching wishes in her fist, my daughter wonders at the expanse of the close world. Wind ruffles thoughts from her hair, translates first words into silent gratitude, into holiness. I flash on my Secret Place of childhood, when I named the world. Perhaps this humble pond will become The Pond, the Singing Lake. Soon my daughter will succumb to cottonwood’s love spell, climb strong arms to sky.
I hug a stunted tree and recall a wild ponderosa, its puzzle-piece bark always unfolding. I once thought if I melted into its cinnamon embrace, I’d piece my life together the way it never was. Sweet vanilla heat rises, butterscotch-rich, though this is only Jack pine.
I thought I needed Grand Canyon, Amazon, Everest. But again I’m quenched by holy pond muck, blessed by redwing hymns and cottonwood prayers. I can solve the puzzle with Jack pine, not the real thing. My daughter knows what’s real, and I’m re-enchanted by this graceful mistake.
(An angel rest-stop.)