Last night, eating fish chowder on the edge of the world, a single house lit up across the inlet, I confessed to deep loneliness, and my husband, across the table, took my hand in his. Now as the nights lengthen, the darkness settling in at 5, the leaves falling, ours is the single house under the mountain, the light over the door left on for our return.
The stray apple tree, the one growing out of rock below the deck, not a native crab-apple but something seeded by birds or a core tossed over the railings, has a single fruit left on one long branch. John picked the others to keep the bears from breaking the tree and they did anyway, pulling boughs down, but they missed the single apple with the red shoulders. Never watered, growing in rock, a perch for the morning jays, a tiny golden-crowned kinglet in winter.
Fire blight. Scab and powdery mildew.
Cedar apple rust. The apple endures.
Born of the wild rose, of crab ancestors.
The first pip raised in Kazakhstan.
–Dorianne Laux, from “A Short History of the Apple”
Stop half-way down the stairs. Why are my eyes so dark, shadowed, slightly averted? I was not comfortable then with the attention, the gaze. I’m still not. Look away, look away. You are given permanence in pigment, behind glass. A moment, forever happening. The present tense is used to describe things that are happening right now, or things that are continuous. Behind glass, the present tense of something that happened a long time ago but is happening every morning when I come down the stairs. The gaze that caught the angle of my face, the blue of my vest, my dark eyes, the gaze that left this earth in 2007 but has given me this young woman, myself, her eyes not meeting mine, though I know she sees me in the moment that is now.
–from a work-in-progress
2 thoughts on ““Never watered, growing in rock””
Deep loneliness here too, in the heart of the city, in a condo building with friendly people, my sister living upstairs, my kids in the same city. I don’t know how much has to do with age. I think it relates to the broader feeling of disintegration. But also it is age. Complicated eye problems, not improved as I had hoped by the cataract surgery. I can’t read the spines of books on my shelves. I can’t read signs. I can’t travel alone. Still hopeful and might go see some famous doctor in the US if I can find the right one. So, big sigh and fellow feeling.
I’m so sorry about your eyes, Susan. And yes, age is part of it, I think — the sense of isolation, invisibility. So much has been lost in the past few years — deaths of friends, fires, road collapses, floods, the terrain of this beautiful earth changed beyond recognition in some respects.