As I laid down in the stillness

It was as though each young Massachusetts memory was rushing back into me.

The soft wind in the back field as the summer sun slipped in and out of the clouds and my fingers reworked the long grasses into a green braided rope. The gurgling of the creek beyond that very field, tadpoles wriggling their way around my barefooted splashes, a simple slip and my shorts were dripping wet. The clink and knock of golf balls from the course beyond our property line, clinking and sinking into their designated holes.

The old tractor that sat with its red, purposeful haunches, the tires long since rolling to do their work and now standing ground as a playground for our little bodies: a spaceship one day, a time machine the next.

The soft summer stillness of a Sunday afternoon, when Church had let out and the whole day was yawning open for reflection, play, and preparation for Family dinner. The crowding around the table that soon ensued, plates clanking with each scoop of a fork, but only after hands grasped in a tight circle and grace shared by Dad.

The silent trudging home from a day of sledding, seemingly miles from home and toes frozen to the toenail tips from the weather seeping into them. Stripping everything off at the back door, a massive pile of snowsuits and boots, wet socks and ice caked gloves, mismatched and well worn, colliding toward the kitchen for a hot cup of cocoa and a handful of graham crackers.

There were the barn cats that multiplied each year, a new litter with each Spring, and the tongue-out love that the pair of Newfoundlands shared with each of us. My feet, racing up and down the gravel drive, bare and firm from the carefree days of play without shoes, stumbling into parts of the old brown barn we weren’t allowed to go.

Books towering from the living room floor in the spot where most folks had a television — we sat around the crackle of a wood stove fire burning and read deep into the night, listening and watching as one of us challenged Dad to a game of checkers. Sitting bare kneed in the church pew, pulling my skirt down to cover the skin, as the priest led the pride of the congregation in song and prayer and I recited newly made poems in my head, instead.

Finding five different ways to sneak out as a young teen, sometimes from the rooftop or swiftly out the back door, to meet with the boy I thought I loved. Back seats in the back of closed down businesses in the dark of night as we secretly kissed and grasped each other, hungry as I was for affection. My parents rose with the sun, so I always needed to beat those morning rays home.

Riding my bike to the library in order to send an email or to photocopy information from an encyclopedia or to thumb my way through the cards that numbered each book and told me where to find it on the shelves. The local pharmacy just across the way from all those books, with candy and soda and enticing trinkets and things to spend my babysitting money on as a treat on a summer day.

My mom in the long, blue 15 passenger van, waiting patiently each day after school as we would walk out, two by two in line with our class, and set off running toward her usually parked spot in the back of the lot. My head, typically pounding from a day of activity and people, sliding up against the cool glass in the van, watching the world pass by as she drove us home.

All because I decided to lie down in the stillness of the dark.

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