Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Story

Baggaraggian Memory: It is deep winter. Our street dead ends with a paved lane, leading to a neat brick house behind a white gate. I thought that house was pretty, but it wasn't our house. Our lane and the way to our house could easily be missed, and its only sentinels were the mailboxes huddled together under a roof of snow. The way home is on the right, and leads through a tunnel of trees into the darkness of the night. I am 8 years old. I can feel the snowflakes falling on my face as I look upward into the winter night. The moon is full and casts its light upon the naked forms of the tallest of the trees. They have reached their bony fingers into the sky to be gloved in white. Down the lane, for the first part from this end was a descent, there are places where the moonlight has leaked through the branches, bruising the ground with purple shadows. I am with my Father and my sisters, bringing home the groceries. The car will be left at the top of the lane, it cannot pass the snowy way.
I am looking at my Father's boots. They are unbuckled, black and rubber. He wears them carelessly upon feet that should belong to a giant. The snow spills in but my Father is impervious to cold. I long to reach over and buckle them them up, as if by doing so I will also buckle up his volatility, and anger. And secure stability in his mood.
The sense of expectation hangs in the hoary night. We pull our sleds free from the snowbank and load ourselves with cautionary words from him, not to spill off, to be careful, to go slowly. The sled creaks, and I am upon it with the grocery bag between my knees. The mesh net handle of the unripened oranges flags my face. I want to do well and fly down this rocky slope without a tumble. I so long not to be the source of his anger.
Off we go. The wind cuts my eyes and I cannot see. I see the darkness and the flying of sparks where the metal runners collide with the rocks in the lane. I am going fast. Then, I am spilled off in a tumble, my grocery bag spilled into the night, oranges flying into the darkness, and my Father spilling curses into the shadows. I am glad the darkness hides his face, I have only to endure his voice. That is enough. We make our way home.
I am with my Father at the fireplace. Kneeling beside him to get the fire going. Kneeling beside him like the penitent one. Sorry, so sorry. There is the blowing and cajoling of the flame, not enough tinder. I gently offer my twigs of contrition. Trying hard to help. I watch as the flames begin to lick the dirty bark of the hard wood. It catches. The smoke rises straight and fast and as it rises I feel it take my Father's anger with it into the winter night.

1 comment:

Debra said...

Oh, Robin, this is hard to comment on, and I was torn about writing anything. Sometimes words are not so useful. I'd give you a hug, if I could.
Love, Debra