Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spliced with Emily Dickinson

The brake light came on in my car last night, driving home from the volleyball tournament in fresh snowfall, roads newly slick. I came up slowly on the first stoplight, testing the brakes, gently pumping.

All was well.  I was bringing my daughter home, so I would have stopped and called for help if there were any trouble, but I continued to drive with extra caution and reduced speed, honoring the weather conditions and dashboard light.

I was about to take US 51, aka Main Street, home, instead of the faster-paced beltway, but my daughter said, "Aren't you going to turn?" and I sensed her hunger.  "It's usually faster," she said, thinking of her dad's driving, or perhaps her own, the one time we let her drive herself to practice, in daylight, no weather issues.

So I signaled, took the beltway, but as soon as we got on the ramp, I could see a string of cars, a police car at a slant, blocking one lane, lights flashing.

Life is short, isn't it?

It wouldn't be faster, and just as well. We were in regulated traffic, steady but slow, occasional stop and go, and eventually we passed the trouble, nothing awful, a row of cars bumped.

When one is done, I wonder--is there not another?

"It's a teenager," said my daughter.

And then, if God is willing, perhaps we are neighbors again.

We got home safely, and I fed everyone. Life's fragility makes me grateful for each safe return, every meal.

I cannot tell how Eternity seems. It sweeps around me like a sea.

My folks got home safely from their two weeks in Florida yesterday, too.  I had taken the moldy stuff out of their fridge and checked their house in the morning, before the brake light came on.  Most clocks were on, but the stove clock was flashing, and the microwave clock off, so the power must have flickered, probably during the hailstorm last weekend.

And this world is such a little place, just the red in the sky, before the sun rises.

And now the dear sweet husband tells me, "Your brakes are OK." It was the brake fluid, he refilled it, and in the spring he will replace the brake pads. In our driveway. But it's too late to go to church. I'm in poetry mode, laundry mode, pyjamas.

So let us keep fast hold of hands, please, that when the birds begin, none of us be missing!


Sandy Longhorn said...

Love the way you spliced the lines here. Really great job!

Collagemama said...

You captured the fragility of life every parent senses in the teen driving years.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, you two! I've just been working on a mini-essay on Emily, so she was on my mind.

Kells said...

Lovely! So lovely to see Emily this morning.

Btw, I read your blog on google reader and the full post doesn't show up. You may want to switch it so the whole post shows up as it can be a little easier for us who use blog readers.


Kathleen said...

Thanks, Kelli! I didn't know that. I will make the switch, if I can figure out how.

Kathleen said...

I think I did it, but let me know!

Kristin said...

I love the splicing, I love how you capture the fragility of life, the gratitude for each time we get to return home to a satisfying dinner (I've been working on some Ash Wednesday projects, so I'm partial to these themes right now).

Well done!

DJ Vorreyer said...

This is a lovely juxtaposition of life and art, as always. You are amazing.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, dears!

Anonymous said...

Friday night. Daughter borrows car to drive to school performance. Forgets her shoes. Comes home safely after singing (and giving a friend a ride home).

Saturday morning daughter gets a ride downtown to a different production's rehearsal. Father finds out two hours later the interior car lights were left on for 16 hours (where are my shoes, she said to herself, peering around the floor, the night before).

Neighborhood list-serve produces a jump start for the car, and father then drives around for a couple hours to recharge the battery - while singing and providing out-of-town guests with a tour of Washington's monuments and museums. (The radio would drain the battery, no?)

This morning, mass transit is the chosen mode - but as the Metro is single-tracking, today's rehearsal starts late, and will end later. Father wishes he loaned daughter the car today, too. It's a learning opportunity, and experience.

Bob (the sometimes nervous father)