Friday, January 3, 2020

Prone to Second-Guessing

Blue skies ask how will we manage?

Late morning - the writing tangling me in knots, and no end in sight to our poverty - I turn to the kitchen. Slice potatoes and onions, celery and kale and boil it all with spoonfuls of smoked paprika. Now and then stepping outside to see if the horses are okay and who - if anyone - is gossiping outside the post office. I hate where I live, for first time in almost thirty-five years, and the hatred eats me alive, like turpentine.

The only daughter at home moves through the house quickly, not speaking, between art projects, and sometimes curling up to read. She is most like me in so many ways and yet of all my kids we are most estranged. So much of what happens confuses me, which has led to a lifetime of seeking understanding, which has been edifying in one way but hasn't touched the confusion.

It's not a spiritual problem. That seems clear. It's like that time I stood high on a hill in Heath, picking blueberries with Chrisoula, and felt suddenly like my whole life meant nothing, and never had or ever would, and it didn't matter how I framed the insight nor whether I even responded to it. So I went on picking blueberries.

I decide I'm making soup, something Irish, the recipe conjugating itself from decades of reading old cookbooks focused on peasant diets and culinary habits. The poor are always with us indeed. I'm merciful but not just, vigilant but prone to second-guessing, and my prayers are laughably self-centered. How far does one have to drift before the drifting becomes intolerable?

It reminds me of that time I stood on a hill in Heath . . .

Yet her footsteps upstairs have a pleasing resonance to them, hollow and rhythmic, with a narrative quality like gourds and animal skins being played by old women in circles it seems helpful to imagine again. And the soup smells like something you could feed those women and not be found wanting. Truth is, I was happy on that hill, unconditionally so, and don't know why I pretend otherwise.

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