There is something I am not seeing. There must be.
I am unable to fight back the waves. I erect a barrier, and it holds, briefly. Then it crumbles, and I am knocked down and submerged. I pull myself up and rebuild, as another wall of water rises beneath a deceptive sky. And I am down again, because I wished to believe in a calm sea.
The wave recedes for a time. I dare to look up and find beauty. I remember to look down and find reality. I am aware of polished glass and smooth shell, warmth and grit beneath my feet. But sand is impermanent; it bears my weight, and yet it moves. There is nothing solid in this moment, nothing solid in my standing.
I am standing nonetheless, readying for the next devastating wave.
* * * * *
In the waters, I have held my sons, tightly, to keep them safe. I have used my wits and my body to protect them against the bursting dams, the continual flooding, the churning currents, the detritus in the aftermath. But the pounding never ceases for long. It may stall, but I know that to be a ruse; the eye of the storm. The waves will return – more insidious, more audacious, more destructive.
One child is free. He has learned to navigate difficult currents and he is strong. He escapes to other territories, returns to meet the waves head on.
* * * * *
Battered, I find my bearings with increasing difficulty. I search for markers, for the bright fire, however small. I am still the guardian of another child’s dreams, still treading water until the next mooring, the life jacket, the tow rope.
Somewhere, there is a place of rich soil and hot sun. Somewhere, there is a map to follow, that will lead us away from these waters. Perhaps that is the dream – that such a place may still exist, at least in youth.
* * * * *
I am fine. I am cracked. I am fine.
Each morning, I put on my public face. I write in the quiet. I tend to errands and mothering. I proceed with the mechanical. Its familiarity feels like progress: another hour, another afternoon, another day closer to rescuing dreams against all odds. I do my job of shopping, cooking, asking about homework, driving, fetching, praising the accomplishment, reining in the unacceptable. Pulling rabbits out of the hat.
I observe. I listen. I walk through the days and nights looking over my shoulder. For the next wave. And I say the words: this is my worry, we’ll figure it out, I’ll do my best.
* * * * *
I know my courage, and it isn’t enough. I know my love, and it isn’t enough. I teach survival, gingerly, and the power of dreams, with conviction. And neither is enough.
I need the tides to turn, my face to dry, the sun to know an alternative to this life, navigation away from this treacherous shoreline – a path, that I cannot see.
© D A Wolf