The sultry voice of a woman filled the small room. Notes rose, hit the ceiling, dropped. Words teased and enchanted as they wrapped humanity. “The High Priestess of Soul” punched the tiny kitchen with passion and spirit, nestled herself into every corner, tucked inside each drawer.
Absorbed in the magic, he forgot last night, forgot time. The notes brought dignity into the room. He bowed, gripped the counter and let his troubles slip off bone.
It snowed this weekend and the world became just a bit more enchanted. Layers of water and ice glistened over the street. Ribbons of snowflakes tumbled and bedecked the boughs beyond my window. Lights twinkled, evermore bright, as darkness dropped a veil atop the blanket of white. A hush settled upon the land. The world was beautiful to behold.
I’ve learned to look closely, to appreciate the layers of a life.
Everything layers. The snow that buries treasure. The cut pine boughs that house an errant spider. The branch of Winterberries that feed the birds. The words we write; the silences we keep.
My eyes scan the room to view a mother’s treasured sideboard. Once it stood stained and polished, waiting for Sunday. On that sacred day, she’d set out the silver and china serving dishes. Her best effort. And we would celebrate family.
A patina of paint and wax covers the oak sideboard. The top sanded, the edges worn. The silver stands in a cast iron urn, a twist on up cycling. The china serving bowls rarely make an appearance. I see the candle burning down. A daughter’s attempt to hold on, let go, to illuminate the night.
My fingers lift a gilded frame. The sepia photograph is of a woman. I trace her portrait. She is standing on a deck, leaning against a railing, looking out to sea. Dressed in her finest clothing, her fingertips hold a hat. A lady always wears a hat. She was a believer in proper etiquette. Beyond her rolls the Atlantic.
I recall her eyes, shades of indigo grey. Behind their depth is another layer. Doubt. I imagine her pausing, pondering, “Should I leave England?” I dust off worry and discover bravery. Carefully, I lift another layer to expose joy ~ he is waiting for her to cross an ocean. On another continent, he goes about his life, planning, constructing, beholden to a dream.
A certain magic fills the room. A whispered breeze kisses my forehead. I see my Grandmother; she is still beautiful. Time has gently taken its toll. Her once bright eyes have paled. They glimmer, wet pools of faded blue. Her finest dress, threadbare. A pin of pearls is elegantly placed beneath the collar of her blouse. Beside her armchair a weathered curtain hangs, the faded Irish lace rustles.
Everything is layered, weathered, chipped, cracked and broken. Be still. Pay attention to the forgotten. It is within glorious imperfection that we find beauty. Lift the layers gently, see beyond the cracks. Everything and everyone has a story to tell. The magic of the world works in whispers. You only need a heart that feels to see the wonder that surrounds us.
Alone, in the darkness, her silent tears slip; only the stars listen.
Far, far away, on the other side of time, someone catches and collects her tears. He tucks the vial to his heart and waits till the moon rises, ripe in an inky sky. Standing atop a grassy knoll, he uncorks the tears and tosses them heavenward. Momentarily, the sky flickers with light. Shimmering, the released tears scatter to earth as rain.
Late in the afternoon a door opens and a small woman steps out. She tucks a lock of auburn hair behind an ear, pauses to inhale the salt air that blows off the ocean. Waning sunlight announces the end of day. Her blue eyes rove the landscape in search of beauty. Today she’ll walk a familiar route home, a route she knows by heart. There is time and light.
The fence comes into view. A solid structure of connected mid century modern blocks. She stops and recalls a moment from her past. A craftsman sets the blocks into place, trowels a row and begins again. This memory elicits a smile. The open squares fenced a perfect hideaway, a spot to peek and play between the tangled ivy. For a moment she pictures two children; their laughter rings through air. Her fingers graze over the blocks, trace the roughness.
The woman covets beauty. Not perfection. Rather, she prefers the imperfect, the missing and broken. She finds beauty in the everyday objects left among fauna and man. Slowly, she lifts the camera from her bag and aims it at her subject. One last shot. A story in the making.
It’s time for some good byes. Winter’s sighed one last cool breath and left a namesake, Winter rose, a gift for tender Spring. As the visual softens and blurs, she notes the rows of Helleborus beneath her feet. These evergreen perennials are neatly placed within shaded borders. Petals open bluish purple to blotched, maroon pinks. Pale green, bell-shaped flowers reach from underneath variegated leaves.The shutter clicks. She imagines the ire of roused, rosy-cheeked woodland sprites, iridescent wings whir beneath sunbeams.
Suddenly, the woman senses a presence behind her. The spirits of her ancestors stand united. Souls whose calloused hands dug soil and transported the woodland plants by wheelbarrow to this very bed. Their whispered voices sound as peaceful notes; their words carried back and forth on the back of a cool breeze. She imagines them kneeling as they arrange the plants before her. The woman sighs, it was so long ago and she is weary.
It is time for Spring, she thinks, a time of new beginnings.
Along the walk back home, her beautiful mind deconstructs the objects. Drawn in by their elements of shape, form and colour, she pauses to scroll the photographs before her. The lens of a camera is the conduit through which she takes simple to majestic. A finger points to push the button, a frame clicks and a moment is captured in time. She imagines these images altered by subtle shifts of light and placement.
It’s a shame, she thinks. Blindly, we rush past the everyday. One day we realize. That which we forget, is forever lost.