I think this is why I feel that the writing I do here is important to my work–as a teacher of writing, it helps to be reminded of the paralyzing blankness of an empty page. It all has to start somewhere; for years, my format here has begun with an image. Why have I never thought of that before as a writing exercise that I could teach? I have taught brief captioning exercises using Instagram, which is close, I suppose, but that was really a task of brevity. This kind of writing is associative, meandering–starting in a place where something matters, but you’re not sure why–and trying to get there somehow, to approach the meaning that was suggesting itself to you.
Rocking back and forth in the glider, I’m trying to type this in another stolen moment. I haven’t gotten to the meaning; it’s hovering somewhere just out of reach. I’ve been taking lots of headless selfies lately; the subject is not me and not quite her but us, these days of closeness–closeness that is exhausting and exhilarating, endless and yet ephemeral. She will not always be here, like this, but it feels like she always has been here, like this. How fast it all changes and yet how slow it goes sometimes, in the hours of rocking, nursing, needing–always needing. But such beauty; such tender beauty and such sadness at the swiftness of it. I keep thinking of the seasons, committing to memory the flowers that were in bloom and the trees that were in leaf when she came, when she smiled, when I saw the world reflected in her pale blue irises. The magnolia burst into waxy, exuberant bloom somewhere between the first and last (fourth) time we drove to the hospital; the blooms collapsed under unseasonable snow the day before we brought her home.
The azaleas were pink and white in the first weeks of her life, viewed mostly through the bedroom window as we slept the days away in fits and starts. The alliums I nearly missed–purple spines fading to green by the time I paused to look. I forced myself to watch the peonies, to savor them; for some reason it was hard to do so, hard to look away from her and linger outside as the tight-wrapped buds unwound into drooping, silky blush.