Raised in a northern climate, I know March to be my personal month of madness, my breaking unless I take care, my restless self – my own worst enemy until I can muscle my mood through to warming days and nights.
Having lived for years where winters may last five months or longer (and never made for the cold), I was dismayed when March, roaring in like a lion, showed no inclination to exit like a lamb.
If I could not escape even for a few days to somewhere sunny, I would write my way through the worst of the seasonal sadness and claustrophobia, warming myself by imagining all that I love.
Please allow an indulgence on this first day of March, as I revisit an exercise – a set of declarations inspired by “I believe.” Try it. Close your eyes and let the words come. Proclaim your statements of belief, listing whatever comes to mind, wherever the process may take you. You’re likely to enjoy it.
Statements on a March Day, Like Any Other
Even in winter, lids closed, light shines through.
I believe in downing espresso at dawn, then sipping a second, gypsy eyes darkening as spells rifle my composure; oh, how the morning glows beyond your walls of storm that stir and sigh and settle low, waiting to blow back in as we drift to sleep again in the cold;
I believe in the years, in the renewal of song after Siberian seasons, in the search for maples to tap together with tin buckets swinging, crunching in the path of older footsteps: it was an earlier day and time seemed abundant as we veered without plan;
I believe in the unannounced muse, spread-eagled on honey-hued wood, competitive and desirous as the ball bounces between her thighs, as Jax skitter across the floor and triumphant in the glee of a good toss, we agree to trade in the currency of chocolate;
And I believe in chocolate, reveling in Hampton Beach fudge, in mocha cake with curled shavings, in pralines molded for the gourmet’s palate, in bittersweet baker’s bars and the entire town of Hershey, Pennsylvania;
I believe in outrageous hats: fedoras and caps, velvet and straw, plumes and veils, brims tipped just so and the audacity to possess an entire collection. I believe in a woman’s penchant for pumps, in the female ankle, in black hose and lace and those who unabashedly admit adoration for the feminine form and the marvels of mutual surrender; we will not war over this, you and I.
I believe in the man who knows and the woman who knows this is not a game but a minuet, a dizzying dance of vertiginous highs, an elegant exchange of partners in motion, our endless turning, as I accept if I must the eventual need to pause and slow.
I believe in a blazing show of vermilion; I believe in crimson, in burgundy, in ruby – the deepest reds in a valley of fire though we are old enough to know better and bold enough still to flout the rules;
I believe in pools of color to battle the failing light; I believe in yellow doors that brighten blue clapboard, in rust-hued homes of textured brick, in flower boxes that spill their vibrant abandon below their stepped roofs. I believe in sturdy old women who do not erase pleasure or grief from their faces; they laugh and they weep; they tamp the soil in their bounded gardens; they soap, they scrub, they sweep their stoops with hands and arms to reap their due.
I believe in Dostoevsky, in Baudelaire, in Hepplewhite’s inlay, in Miller’s Paris; I believe in Dine’s tools, in Tamayo’s burnt orange and watermelon pink; I believe in one hundred golden steps to Mayan heaven (and never a route down); I believe in the cabinetmaker’s glue, in the painter’s oil on canvas, in the printmaker’s bite of acid on copper, his paper smoothed and rubbed, caressed and pulled across ink in the act of midwifery;
I believe in the womb and cling to its memory: the flutter and jolt of tiny feet, the scope that links me to emergent hearts, the stretched skin to contain some insurgent drumming; the great gut becoming the drawer as the surgeon rummages for socks and pulls sons from my contracting frame.
I believe we inhabit our names as we learn to recite them, losing sight of the capacity to reshape, to reform, to shed our titles altogether. We may choose instead to stand on our heads, to rant with our eyes, to hear through our fingertips, to serenade with a kiss and thus we begin to unlearn, to rise upright, to affirm on point, to master vision plucked from the vessel of a cranial sky free to cull the gods at our leisure:
This is our belonging – boulder and blade, clay and star, bone and belly.
I believe in lightning that strikes twice, in being young and foolish, in being old and foolish, in sowing the seed of one small seditious yes that spawns a second, that nurtures a third and begets a fourth as a gaggle of yeses vie for the head of the line; yes owes no favors and makes no excuses.
I believe in plain talk, free will, rebellious spirit; I believe in strangers who become friends, friends who become lovers, lovers on trains, spinning tales into gold and gold back into tales for the crisp and hungry page.
I believe in the lion and the lamb, in silence and perfect pitch, in sweltering summers and northern nights, in pines felled and hauled across a dormant earth, in returning to the hearth with its orchestral aromas, in cinnamon and allspice, in cumin and coriander, insatiable as you saw and stack, as we kindle and build, as we succumb to the spitting ash and spark.
Even in winter, lids closed, light shines through.