tangled.

{I’m so honored and humbled to share this piece with you. 
It was written by my sister-in-law, Leah.  (Who is a beautiful writer…)
And it was written during the time I had just moved into my new room, and everything was astray.
More importantly, it was written for me.
I am so thankful for her and her husband Bryan for loving me so well over the years, and keeping a steady eye and hand on me, as I wander, and have come to them hungry and broken, many times. 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.}

So now you’ve arrived in a new room where you’ll live alone.

It’s clean and not too shabby.
The quiet and solitude you’ve always kind of craved bounces off the plain white walls.
Loneliness can be so loud sometimes.

In your dreams you are back where you were, and she is there too,
with not quite enough space in the bed and her reading light on late into the night.
You toss in your sleep and your foot brushes warmth, skin too clammy in a muggy apartment bedroom.

You think when you wake you will make her an omelette, a little crispy on the edges the way she likes.
Maybe she’ll make the coffee beside you, with the full silence of people who are used to working side by side.

Afterwards you’ll do the dishes, burning off a few more nerve endings in the scalding foam of muddy water.
You’ve never had a dishwasher in this place, so you know your way around the sink by heart.
Scrape the pan, leaving little brown bits floating, then clink together plates of filmy yellow yolk.

When you really do wake up, in the new room, the realization hits you hard:
that in fact you can roll over many times or hog all the covers if you want and there is no one to make breakfast for.

It’s disorienting to feel the crisp new twin sized sheets that will never be worn down by the two of you,
the ones you picked out alone,
staring stone faced in an endless aisle of colors and thread count.

You knew from the start she was a little wild and unknowable but it’s what you loved about her.
The fragile light beaming bright in whatever direction she chose.
It felt good to have her shine it on you for awhile.
Your life together wasn’t perfect but it was steady.
(sometimes you wonder if the stillness is what left her undone)

But now you rouse and pull on your clothes.
In time your shirt will stop smelling like her and the edge of the pain will dull.
Already a family of bouncing boys is using your old bed frame.
With noise like that, they won’t even notice how it squeaks.

You pawned off all your things like that in the last days before check out:
the couch your grandma bought as a wedding gift, an odd assortment of lamps,
a cutting board where you chopped so many onions for your soup.
It wasn’t hard to let them go and you smiled to think of better days ahead for your possessions, the old bones of your life together.

When the place is finally empty,
you roll up your sleeves and start to scrub away the grime that built up over time.
You clean the slimy edge around the sink that usually went unnoticed,
the dusty slats of the blinds,
and the dirty corner of the bathroom, only visible from the toilet. Lastly you head to the front flower box to pull up the tomato plants.

Many come up easily, with a little tug.
Those are the ones she planted this spring thinking you would like to can them in September.
But one plant gives you some trouble, and it pleases you just a little to see it put up a fight.

The roots of this one have really taken hold, it came up voluntarily every year without any prompting.

Last year it grew so big it curled right up the front porch and sent shoots circling the spokes of her bike.
Covered in tomatoes, It looked like she had parked it there forever.

Eventually the plant comes up and you hall it to the bin for debris.
You clean up the big mess of fallen tomatoes except for a few roll aways that scatter under the bushes where you can’t reach.
Then all the while, as you turn in your keys, collect your deposit, and walk away, you imagine those tomatoes going to seed.

I wonder if you’ll drive by on your way home someday, next year, or maybe when you’re older and find that they’ve sprouted again into huge abundant bushes, so big that nobody bothers to pull them.

Tomatoes will dangle from every stem, shining, bulging, ready to burst.

You’ll smile when you notice from your car window, in a quiet knowing way.

And whoever is with you, a lover, a friend, a wife, will notice and ask you why.

Oh nothing you’ll say, as you keep on driving.

But inside you’ll smile, knowing that once they are tangled up together,

there are some things that just can’t easily be undone.

photo

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4 responses

  1. WOW! Simply incredible. I love the tomato word picture. It’s one of the few plants I’ve ever really had success with. The thought that they, like us, will put up a fight at the prospect of being uprooted … nice. Having been uprooted 25 times in 27 years makes me wonder what’s still growing in the places I left behind.

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