into blackness. Alone,
but not lonely.
The words unravel, When inky twilight
reaching, rolling dries into darkness
out across the wintered landscape, and the last parcels of snow
uncertain of their path, drop from the tree boughs,
a loose strand of sound the words reignite
surrendering to silence. from the stoked warmth
of a yellow window,
Somewhere, unfurling like a fist
the children take turns into an outstretched hand—
racing against shadows,
skirting down the hill And the children run
in brash, uncontrolled violence, helter-skelter into the woods,
cutting the white-crusted earth pockmarking the land
with the wear of their bodies, with their snow-soaked boots,
perpetual motion a map of constellations
in a frozen still life. trailing behind them.
It is said that blood is thicker than water. Although the original use of this phrase apparently referred to the ‘blood of the covenant’ being a stronger connection than ‘the water of the womb’, it is generally considered to mean the opposite, that family connections are deeper and more enduring than other types of relationships. In 2001, with my husband and children, I left England, my homeland. What was supposed to be a temporary, two-year stay has extended into sixteen years and counting. With the now permanent move, the rest of my family has been left behind. Left behind but not forgotten.
Last year, two days before Christmas, I had spent a few hours trying to finish a 4000-piece jigsaw puzzle that was taking up the whole dining room table. The table needed to be available for Christmas dinner, and time was running out. Emma, home from college and penniless as usual, had no money to buy Christmas gifts. She had decided to bake cookies for everyone, and there were warm, chocolaty smells emanating from the kitchen. I had given up on the puzzle for a while because my back was starting to ache from bending over it. It was on a big board anyway, so, worst case, the whole thing could be carefully carried into another room. I made myself a cup of tea, tripping over Emma in the kitchen. Taking my tea into the living room, I sat down in my favorite chair, swinging up the leg rest.