what you can never learn from masters

A baby died yesterday, full term. Born still to a family I don't know. But his aunt wrote to say I want to capture this day for them, this day of birth, and mark it. Can you go into your backyard with your camera, right now?

So I did. Even though I've been ignoring my own reckoning, my own lost child. Even though I've felt deaf to the kind of grace and presence that followed me for a time.

A lovely, perfect young maple catches the light at that time of day and at this time of year, a crown of sun. The day after he was gone I looked out our door and saw it. It felt like a gift. It was staring back at me, breathing, smiling, witnessing. I pressed my hand to its trunk and it hummed. Everyone who comes to our house, children especially, gravitates toward it. Bodies duck under and climb and run around it and when they do, the tree swells with happiness.

Come this way, the tree whispered to me as I stood on the deck with my camera. Translate.

At the moment yesterday's baby was lifted from his mama's belly, there was that familiar crown of light. It got me thinking about regrowth, and defiance, and how we're all meant to find each other, even in ways we don't understand.

I saw souls who set course to grow under our shelter. I saw that while the non-negotiable terms of that growth can break us, the choice of those souls to begin with informs us. I thought about the ways that each of us are beautiful, no matter how small and no matter our means or our ends.

I thought of the shadows we cast on each other. And how light's really not much of anything without shadow. I thought about how shaggy and wild the lawn is. And how I like it that way. I thought about how we all must become something else.

I thought about how living things reach up to light and refreshment, and how we're all stretching, cupping, hungry. I thought about small things that land in finite places, within lives or bodies that can only take them so far. But look how they try. Look how they want to be seen.


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