Uncommonwealth

Eva August is a week old today. Her sweet face sleeps peacefully in a Moses basket beside a hand-me-down couch and the smallest sounds are coming from her making her instantaneously more loveable than I believed possible. She looks like my mom, and my siblings, and me.

Last week, Lane and I were reminded of the uncommon wealth we have been granted in the form of family and fullness of life. My cup overflows and before my tired mind releases the moments, I want to write them down.

Three weeks ago my mom arrived in this cockeyed town to walk me through my final (agonizing) days of pregnancy. She filled my days with activity and the softness of her presence. We shopped for baby things I’d forgotten, she helped me find clothing that would be baby-accessible, she spoiled me rotten then bought me coffee. In her air BnB we watched silly to shows while eating chocolate babka and discussing home designs. It was like being on vacation, we ate good food (promising that each meal may be my last — none of them were but they were all strengthening and delicious anyway) when she left after 10 days of waiting I decided I would just probably be pregnant forever and assigned myself to that fate with the smallest portion of grace.

On Sunday I texted Lane’s mom asking her and his dad if they could make the long drive on Monday instead of Wednesday, knowing we were going into the week of celebration for all that he has accomplished after two difficult and long years of training. I was still pregnant and began to undrstand that I may not make it to his graduation or tabbing ceremony — the iconic moments that would turn him from soldier to green beret.

With incredible love both of his parents came without question and (still pregnant) the three of us were able to attend his tabbing ceremony on Tuesday. He had lots to do and I began to realize I really might make it to graduation on Thursday and the dress I’d picked long ago wouldn’t fit over my still full tum. Sweetly his dad let his mom and I go out dress hunting — we had the best time looking through options and settled on a dress she found that made me feel less the whale and more the imminent mother I could hardly believe I was. Then she grabbed the ingredients for Lane’s favorite pie (the one that I botched so badly not long ago that I swore not to try again).

I woke up at midnight in consistent pain and texted my sister across the world. She walked me through my first strains of labor and between contractions we discussed her new home, and my coming changes, and is two minutes apart too close together? If she hadn’t moved across the world just days before, I would have been alone for those hours. (I didn’t want to wake anyone on false pretenses).

at 3 I called my parents and they got in the car and by the time I was well into labor both sets of parents and some siblings were in town.

I wont go into my labor story here, but ask me if you’d like to talk about it.

When Eva arrived, she was soon surrounded by the love of her extended family. Her great grandmother came in on a plane — it was too late for her to get on base without military personnel, so my precious friend Lisa drove out to meet her and brought her into the hospital with cookies in hand for me. Dearer friends I do not know than those who I meet in this gated world, forever supportive.

The next day was Lane’s graduation, a day I looked forward to attending for years. But a newly born baby and a brand new mother don’t leave hospitals hours later. Still, my incredible, courageous, determined, and brilliant husband was well represented by all of his siblings (save one), his parents, grandmother, and my dad. My mom (coffee and snacks in hand) came and stayed with Eva and I.l

I remember being up early and taking Eva to the window to watch her first sunrise considering what a thing it was that every person has a first and a last of these. The songs that played through my head for the whole of her birth and first week were “Thy will be done” by bethel music and “Either Way” by beta radio

My dad arrived later with a camera full of pictures and the most stunning bouquet I had ever seen (from both he and my mom). The whole family visited throughout the day and it was good to see how loved this child is.

We woke up the next day to delivered chick fil a by Lane’s dad. We were to be discharged by evening. Family took turns keeping us company in the middletime.

Over the next few days Lane and I were showered with love — from chipotle for all from my parents, to the best classic grill out by Lane’s family. Homemade Oreos and chocolate covered pretzels were made and left to sustain the first sleepless days, packages ordered to surprise me when family had left. Flowers and strains of essential oils cut through my unshowered funk and remind me of love not far away.

I was overwhelmed with pride for lane, a long labor, a new daughter, the sheer vastness of family and their seemingly unceasing and ever forgiving love and grace while I muddled through the last days of pregnancy and the first days of motherhood.

These are just glimpses into the week. It would take a book to tell you how it felt to see Lane hold his daughter, how lucky we two are to have him as our guy.

 

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Some notes on Eva

8/24/17

She eats all the time, she likes to be close and full.

She sleeps a lot, too… but only deeply when she’s in someone’s arms.

She does not mind diaper changes, or clothing selections,

but she does not like to be hot or cold.

She’s just barely over a week old.

 

-————————

8/25

her toes over cross each other and never lie in a row.

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Sea glass

Some words have been sitting on the very edge of my mind, like sea glass among river-stones. (write). I have seen the muted green of the words as if from a distance. I know they are there to be put down. The seas of my mind have finally pushed these, little blue/green parcels out. They are worn from being thought over — how to say them, and can I not? Silence becomes more simple than venerability in a fast paced world where no one knows anyone.

So, that’s what I am naming my daughter, in hopes that she will find it more simple to merely say the truth she knows out loud — to people who have earned it. “Venerability” will be her middle name (secret, covered by a word from a different kind of language) as much as “Grace” has always been my first.

I prefer language when it is underlying, I do not speak well in the blunt — leave me to study semantics and speak to you in such a way that you will know the extra meaning. Don’t make me allude, just understand. If I were mute, we would still know each other.

Everything I have to say seems presumptuous.

In the beginning there was nothing — or maybe it was something — and anyway, it doesn’t matter because what is absolute is that at some point there wasn’t.
Then there was.

When God said “let there be light” (and it came) did he only mean the presence of wavelengths and particles? Could he not have also meant “allow this to see me” and later “let the humans understand (be illuminated?)”. Surely he knew, days later, that when he called birds into being that they, too, would hold a multi-meaning.  Did he not know that he was defining freedom to those who were connected to the ground? Did he not, too, speak into existence the desire for it — the symbols of peace — idioms in every language.

Within language, every word we say sends a thousand possible meanings into the air around it. Somehow, it is still incredibly limited. Surely God, who speaks beyond language, says and means a thousand different things — beyond our comprehension — with every whisper to our soul.

Still, the gems left on the sands of my mind get taken back by the tide. One day they will be written.
These words were not those.

 

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Not A Beowulf Criticism

This is not a Beowulf Criticism. I would know, I’ve been working on one since 6. I only have the introduction done, but it contains a thesis statement that I’m 98% sure I can walk out for 5, 10, 20 pages if I so choose. So I’m putting that down for the morning.

In the last week I have written nearly 30 pages on books, culture, and more books. It’s a fairly typical week for this semester. I’m going to miss all of this one day soon, but for now I sorta miss writing whatever I want. So, I’m going to post this — because it isn’t a springboard but a thought I’d like to read again in August, when I’m holding my child and my degree and things have changed. I want to recall the day I spent the early morning working on an introduction to a Beowulf criticism and be grateful that it is behind me, and be grateful that it existed, and be grateful.

 

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When We are at the Threshing Floor

When my father can’t say another word

and his soul aches all the way through his skin

he sits down to pianos and pushes out

every sorrow again and again.

But whenever joy strikes him like a bell the depths

he runs to the same old keys

and presses out glory and all that comes with is

thank you and please and please.

When my sister’s whole worlds meet at dawn for a fight

and battle takes all that she is

she sits down and thinks out the colors and sights

and then finds a place for them on skin

But whenever joy strikes her like a bell in the depths

she rushes to find a new piece

and she presses out glory and all that comes with is

a promise, a memory, and peace.

When my mother meets twilight and aches with the toll

She makes a getaway to somewhere to learn

She walks through some beauty be it trail or gallery

and prays that the world stops its burn.

But whenever joy strikes her like a bell in the depths,

she takes a friend to her space to be with

and she presses out glory and all that comes with is

laughter, and light without end.

 

When my brother struggles for victory

and his body is so tired it fails,

he pulls his wife up and they run to thistle

and they sail her into the gales.

But whenever joy strikes him like a bell in the depths,

they wake up and fly to their boat.

He presses out glory and all that comes with is

the light, and the joy, and the ropes.

When my soul meets the edge of the world

and I have no translation for what I feel

I run to these keys to press out the poison

and hope in some way that it heals.

But when joy strikes me like a bell in the depths,

I come here to settle the call

I press out the glory and all that come with is

everything, and nothing at all.

 

I suppose over time you learn these things

about the people you live with and love.

How it is they meet worry is the same as their glory

their return to whatever holds them up.

 

 

 

 

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Write

I have written so many pages in the last three months, my printer has bled dry multiple times. I have been so tired of trying to dig up the usual love I have for this old keyboard that I haven’t written for myself in ages. I come here to do that today — before I finish the last 8 pages of the semester.

Inside me something grows, like a small stone or a skipping rock, something that can quake waters. I met it this semester when I found out that I’d lost something sacred, and though I searched through the closets of my being — looking right down to the very strands of dna that hold me so tightly connected as the individual with the crooked nose that I have been for twenty six years — I could not find the sacred thing again. Surely parts of it have soaked up to my skin now, becoming me and not me in every way imaginable. But though the same pale sands of my body still make the deserts of my skin, I cannot find the precious thing again. But I found something else. This thing I thought was courage, I held in my hand. Smooth, round, opaque, and yet glossy, desirable, and yet far too expensive. The pearl of discovery — you are imperfect, and that may effect you and those you love forever.
I suppose I always knew I was imperfect. I have pinched skin between two fingers on many days to show that imperfection. I have ignored my funny nose in the mirror for decades. I have been more than aware that the grace that is in my name is not the physical grace of a Kelly. Even deeper, I have known the blackness in that should be red organ that beats all of my blood. Still. There are some things that you expect to survive imperfection. Though I have seen proof that it is not always the case, I suspected that some organs were still working in sync with tides, and moon, and all things feminine. I suspected that certain things were simply readying themselves. I did not suspect imperfection to this depth.

Yet here it is — tarnished like a copper pot left in the rain before its first use, there and still usable, but somehow not.

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A Practice in Third Person/Past-Tense

She was not made of her own volition.

She hadn’t asked to be created and hadn’t known the moment she went from being cells to spirit. She often wondered if she had — been — before her bright eyed arrival onto this green planet.

She was born of happy — unlikely — accident to two people who did not want to have a baby. But they were in their honeymoon stage and accidents can happen when people are still so in love.

She often wondered if the circumstances of joy and the bubbly feeling of love that called her into being had any effect on the personality she’d been given or the unquenchable joy that always eventually appeared right in the most difficult days.

She often wondered the same thing of others. What of the ones who were not made from love but from duty — or from terror — or from anger. Did the mood under which they were made effect them from their first to last breath?

Is personality nature or nurture? Does it begin before a person takes a breath, as they are surrounded by the true and natural feelings of a mother living out her given life? Or is it pliable and, like red mud, mold-able until the hot sun warms it into hard fact?

When she was called into being, was it the joy of the momentary accident that out-won the fear of the reality of new life.

Will it be joy that pushes her through again, when all of the long days have passed?

Will she remember that she was before she wasn’t?

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