Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Bird, the Egg, the Light, the Hand: What Resurrection is To Me

April 12

Resurrection: The act of rising from the dead.

Resurrection: The rising again as from decay, disuse, etc.; revival.

Resurrection:  Resurgence, renascence.

Resurgence:  To rise again, as to new life, vigor.

Nascent:  Emerging.

Renascence:  The process of emerging again.

Resurrection:  The sometimes painful process of remerging in a new form after a cancer diagnosis.

Resurrection:  The name of a bay, a fjord, really, not far from Homer, the body of water we splash our boat into each spring.  Named by Russian settler Alexandr Baranov, who weathered out a bad storm one spring, around Easter-time; on Easter, the storm relented.  As happened to Craig and I, years ago.  A huge storm trapped us in Resurretion Bay for days; I hung Easter candy from everyone’s bunk as they slept on Easter morning.  We woke to snow on the deck. 

Resurrection:  Easter in coastal Alaska:  when winter often lets out one last big howl decrying spring, denouncing its demise.  Don’t worry winter, you will resurrect, too, soon enough.  Now step aside.

Resurrection:  Leaving it, the title of my first book.   Leaving any notion of some easy, instant fix.  A premonition?  Leaving aside the one-time, big-time, come-to-Jesus resurrection dream for the smaller resurrections tooled out of each day’s scuffing around in the woods, half-lost.  The stubborn tulip leaf spearing up through the half-frozen earth in my flower bed against the house wall.  The sticky cottonwood sheath still tight around the leaf.  The migratory snipe landing on top of my neighbor’s still-frozen pond.  His ducks laying eggs again.

Resurrection: The epiphany that changes my mind in the instant and is soon covered over by a fresh dump of old snow sliding off the roof.  And the shovel I use to dig back down to bare ground.  Where was that insight?  Gone.  Begin again.

Resurrection:  Each blessed, bloody morning.

Resurrection:  The Easter of my youth remade for my Alaskan life, the Safeway bags of onion skins stored for years in our basement just for this purpose.  My friend’s old flannel nightgown cut into squares, tinted onion-skin burnt sienna from years and years of egg-dying, fabric squares laid out on the kitchen table for another round, another year.  The onion-skin tinted strings for tying the onion-skin- and cloth-swaddled egg bundles.  The April light, entirely unique, an ice-like quality to it, a flat radiance, the way it bathes the kitchen table in an evenness, like a snow-covered field without shadow, the kind of subtle but huge light that made me tie the drapes back in the breakfast nook.  A light that looks swept and scrubbed repeatedly like white pine farmhouse floor.  White-washed light.  A light like no other.  And in that light, we sat, my friend Asia, my stepdaughters Eve and Elli, Craig, and I, constructed our onion skin nests, laid lace across, or wrapped the eggs in embroidery floss, or pressed cilantro leaves to the shells.  Then the bundles boiling in the pot, the water red-brown bubbling soup of weird dumplings. 

Resurrection:  Untying the hot bundles with fast, burning fingers, too impatient to wait for them to cool, the ooh and ah and Craig claiming every good egg was his creation, and the basket of onion skin eggs we held out for the camera.  And my mother, at my sister’s house, watching other fingers tear open the cloth bundles, extract the surprises, what her own fingers once did for us.  This kind of resurrection hard.  The things that carry on with or without us, no longer attached to us, in their new forms, leaving us behind. 

Resurrection: New life, not the rebirth of what was before.  No going back to square one, no starting up where one left off.  So this ritual I learned from my mother flawed and altered.  The broken, marred, imperfect, ephemeral resurrections that I’m talking about, that I love.

Resurrection: The second anniversary of my cancer diagnosis falling on many different days, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter, because I just couldn’t get the date/day right in my head.  So it landed, like a shadow, on each April-lit day’s stretched-out meadow.  So it lingered long into the night, with the light that tinges the sky past 10 pm already.  So it begins a new year for me, carrying forward both the light and the shadow, walking toward who-knows-what.

Resurrection: New Year’s Day.  But not some given date, celebrated in tandem with hordes of others, but self-chosen. April 8.  My life a messy bundle constructed of saved bits, string, rags, onion skins, a nascent self I can enclose in one hand, like a caught bird  The bird, the egg, and light that bathes it all in a moment’s clarity.  And the hand slowly opening.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful. I can see the characters and the April light that made you tie back the drapes. I can see the egg pouches each delicate and original-do they smell when you boil them? In my head they smelled of onion and cilantro. I laughed out loud at Craig claiming them all to be his. What special memories you make. Thank you for sharing.