After You Left, I Wrote: How Should I Pray. Love is Simple.

You teach me how to live a life in the moment. Simplicity, you say. And I imagine you on your own, in a field, with horses or men bailing hay.

 

I wish I could have been there with you in childhood, and perhaps in a way I was.

 

The run of the hooves or the sound of the sleeping giant in a stall against the scraping of wire.

 

I remember the times where the world stood still–to a child, all colors speak a language of joy, grass is an excuse to run free.

 

But there were crossroads in the imaginary connection between us. Somehow, you kept on a path of moments and simplicity and I was swept up in a dirt storm or a wall-cloud of confusion and learning-how-to-run—not for joy in the country grass, but survival.

 

I learned to read people’s faces. I learned to listen to what they didn’t say.  I could get a clue and stick it in my pocket in case I needed it later. Or maybe bits of words they said–evidence when I sat alone in a room, examining who and why and how I was hurt. I’d press on my knees and watch them lift,  follow the imaginary lines across the bruise shaped as Indiana.

 

I’d work with words. I’d write them down. And I took this path away from you because I had to. I left you, the lone-child, to create forts without me and there you learned every flavor and name of the plants.

 

*

That’s Persimmon, you said, walking through the park with me. And I, beginning to know you for the first time in adulthood, looked over and smiled. I wanted to say, I studied botany for a while.  But I didn’t know that was Persimmon. And for the first time,  I didn’t feel I needed to prove myself. I wanted you to share. I wanted you to teach me. I wanted to be humbled.

 

*

 

What I wanted, more than anything, was a way to stillness. I tried to find it on my horse as a child, but even then I was moving. And through words, of course, I was running–running into, and out of, things, lives, scripts created to save me from pain or fear.

 

I stood on top of a mountain once. I felt inside me an oak tree that grew and somehow touched the sun. It didn’t burn, it just left its hand on her back and the sun, in return, formed a fire in her that shot down into the earth and out into the universe. So the oak tree, a string, connected something to something else–I imagined my heart might connect to the greater heart that matched its edge, smoothed it, stilled it, calmed it like a pool under the last remaining midnight sky.

 

*

 

When you first looked toward me, nervous, an adult, so tired you must have felt drunk and silly and out of your body, hours spent on the road, I could have turned away from the tug, the string, bringing me closer to a stillness than I hadn’t felt before, but I didn’t. I looked for your eyes, and in them, the pool under the last remaining midnight sky, or so I imagined the child-me would say, or write. I didn’t turn and run with the power to leave you spinning. I accepted. I was silenced. I was humbled and scared.

 

*

 

I’m scared, I said. I may be a fool. But the simplicity of watching a man fix his truck in the rain settled into me as you spoke of not knowing how to deal with the girl who writes everything out, who thinks her way into tunnels, then shouts.

 

*

 

This could be another bruise. But I watch you build and listen. I knew you as a child before I learned how to defend my heart from fear and darkness but also the light.

 

I learned the reactions of others so quickly. I learned to abandon the growth around me. The plants. The horse I rode from joy to fear. I forgot to pray.

 

*

 

Let’s say grace, you said. Simply. Thank you. And then, to me, Thank you.

 

*

 

After you left, I wrote:

 

How should I pray? Not how I think, in silence, without words, with a grateful heart and a strong door to keep out the negative voice. I should pray how I see you lying next to me–I don’t speak–if I feared you’d be gone when I woke, I’d not enjoy the moment of you being-there. In silence, I let the garden grow around me, take note, love without fear, and give thanks for you.

 

*

 

The boy takes a turn toward the woods with forts. The girl runs into the wall-cloud and dust storm.

 

Somewhere they might meet under a bridge or in a room with a lamp and signs around them saying, Love is Simple. Be Each Others Moment.

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