You can find good places to rest here. One day, this was early on, even before the house was built, I was very sick..had been for many weeks. I was weeding the strawberry bed and I became very tired. I almost never do this, but I decided to stretch out onto the grass. It was a crisp April day, with a big warm sun, and lying low as I was, I could feel the heat rising from the soil and mixing with the chilly air. Occasionally I heard the rush of a passing car, the sounds of newly arrived song birds, the breeze as it twisted through trees that were still bare of leaves. I fell fast asleep.
You don’t have to look for ghosts around corners here. You don’t have to enter a room and worry that you haven’t yet found the light switch. There are no malevolent spirits here, but spirits none-the-less. If you call to them, they are nearly instantly at your side. Shirley will return from her extensive exploration of the many universes that exist in our cosmos. Despite all that she’s seen, she never refuses a simple shift at your bedside. She’ll give you sleep medication if you like, then sit at the base of your bed and watch you to make sure that it has worked. She’s an excellent nurse.
My mother is a visitor too, but tends to take a chair some 6 or 7 feet away. Shirley pays attention that she is a considerate guest, but this is only a concern if mom is spending time in the bedroom. Otherwise, she is a nice companion …on a stroll down the drive or through the woods in autumn (a favorite). Pay attention to when a polka enters your head for no good reason. That’s when Frances has arrived.
Your family will visit too…alive and dead. It’s an easy spot for ghosts to find. Close your eyes before you sleep and take an imaginary flight from the top of the outdoor balcony, down the bank of grass, and snake your way slowly over the flowing creek. Hover above the swamp. Drift above the asparagus bed.
The ghosts will come with you if you like. Show them everything. If you can’t remember the name of what you’re looking at, ask Millie. She’ll show it to you. She has a habit of slipping messages to you in a way that spooks.
Lie in bed and breathe, but don’t breathe air, breathe color: the grass, the dandelion, the bees on the goldenrod.
Stand next to the Toka plum, stand there in your mind, and breathe a scent that hits the center of your head like an ice pick.
When you’re in the midst of it, you dream that it’s the thing that scents Olympus. The bees are acrobatic in it and other insects barrel roll through it.
The dog in the bed dreams, mutters and yips, but the outside stirs more quietly. The deer walk on toe shoes in the yard and whiff the ground for the scent of apple.
The snakes make sounds that can only be heard only if you are inches away. Every now and again a pair of screech owls sound off. A family of them scrap for ground on the hillside south of the house. A barred owl and her family live in a hollow tree on that same hill beneath a shelf of rock.
Indians were here once, so were the Zorns and their livestock. There was even a telephone line, but this was years ago. The weeds have grown up and down, up and down, for decades now. You and all of your efforts will fold back into the larger cycle of eras. your small scratches into the land, your row of peas and your interest in a tract of black raspberries, will all be drowned and washed away in the bigger tides of time.
You too will go.
I give into it. I stop holding on and allow myself to drift. I imagine that I’m on a raft in much larger version of the stream that exists on this property and that I’ve decided to put the paddles on the deck. To the others, on the rafts that I see in the distance, I call , “He got off somewhere up stream. We had a fight, you see, but do me a favor, will you? Yell up to the other travelers and tell them to holler out to the guy that’s sitting on the ledge. Let him know that I still love him. Can you do that?”
When I turn, I see the world drifting towards me and passing overhead. I am a servant to slope of a river bed, rain, drought and currents. Soon there will be the Susquehanna and long, long after that there will be the Chesapeake Bay where we can hope for a crab shack that’s close enough to order takeout as we pass. After that I don’t know where we go. I think the water pushes things North, so we could end up in Scotland and after that the coast of Ireland or maybe France.
Imagine that. All the way to France and I’ve only now just begun to close my eyes.