Joyful things are sweet and small today. Filling wide-mouthed jars with coffee brewed double-strength; the grounds slopped into the compost and joined by lemon rinds and the heads of strawberries, their leaves like bad haircuts. I boiled water for tea, mint whose saw-toothed leaves left a scent on my fingers more lasting than any cut. When the tea had steeped and cooled I washed my hair and poured it on my head, balanced over the sink, watching the beads of water drip-drop from curls as loose and slim as cursive handwriting. Capturing my cat in photographs of a clean house, folding his hairs already into freshly laundered towels and t-shirts and socks bundled mate to mate. They're easier to find this way, one wrapped snug in the other, paired.

The rumble of uneven wheels on pavement when M and I take the recycling and the garbage out, when we linger in twilight and track the progress of a single lightning bug between our yard and the neighbors'. We could see one star, too, like a chip of quartz in field stone, but it wasn't a wishing star. Just then I hadn't anything to wish for.

Spring Awakening

There is a vintage postcard I like, one I've intended to frame since I first laid eyes upon it, that says, "In the spring, we are getting busy in the garden." This is exactly what M and I did today, without the dirty subtlety that makes me giggle. After we discovered that the cherry tree that grew beside the patio was diseased - when M leaned against it and heard the sickening crack of roots breaking - we visited the greenhouse and bought a Royal Raindrops crabapple. We likely won't ever see the tree at its loveliest, the shadow cast like a projection, weak and fine as a skeletal leaf. In uprooting what was old and rotted we found granite boulders and bulbs buried too shallow last autumn, ugly as old onions rolled into the depths of the pantry, like bald heads or shaved testicles. M was digging. I was pruning. The irony that I must cut into live wood to know if it is live, to recognize in the minty stripe of health another season survived, or read in the rings of dry wood a finite promise that doesn't seem to me to belong to any tree. I've always imagined them like turtles. They'll live forever, or at least, certainly longer than me.

I was uncomfortable by how much I had to uproot and cut away. I did not like to mulch too much and make it seem like a human has been here.

But this summer I will imagine myself barefoot on a carpet of sweet woodruff that will, I hope, spread beyond my control. Poisonous or not I will fancy the blooms of my Camelot Rose foxglove little horns to trumpet or faerie cups or hats. I will lay down little stones for feet or fingers far more delicate and more green than mine to pass between the Lobelia and Coral Bells.

Perhaps a child, though not mine. Our business in the garden had to do with other kinds of dirt.

Lived in Halves

Husband, while you are away I am doing some of the things you like best. I piled clean laundry on the bed as though I were actually going to fold it before climbing in, but you know me better. Two loads fit just as well in one basket at the foot of the bed, making room for me to lie down on your side, brace my body all around with our pillows.

I am beating a video game you've beaten already. I am starting over again, because I like to play the same life, the same choices, the same sweetness.

The refrigerator I cleaned out of all of the things we made together and didn't finish when you were here. The salad that spoiled despite my intentions to have it every night, my love of what's growing green outside so rarely translating to the choices I make when it comes to filling my plate.

But I haven't been. Filling my plate, I mean. Without you I am making small meals, eating a little when I am home from work, a little more a few hours later. I'm hungry now anticipating a little breakfast when I wake up facing your lamp and your books thumbed before bed, the photograph you keep of me on your bedside table. In the photograph I am nineteen and you've placed a fortune from a fortune cookie inside: You are original and creative. At the time you said it was more appropriate for me than it was for you.

That was nearly ten years ago. What you didn't know then, what I remind you every time that I can now, is that my fortune is you.

Resolutions & Premonitions

I'd planned for my New Year's resolution to clean the litter box everyday, but that one is right out. A sadness that is magnified by crumpled fleeces mistaken for slumbering forms and the little house sounds that were her subtle comings and goings has all but replaced the crippling grief of the first few days. M and I have little wakes before bed and over coffee and in the car, remembering what we loved best - everything but her every-door-must-be-an-open-door policy - and what we miss the most - everything else. I'm resolving instead to make the very best of what remains, the love and comfort of friends. I am often and regrettably guilty of shutting myself up in the house, what social outings I do indulge most often including dinners at home and knitting companionably while watching Doctor Who. Among about a hundred other things, I could be a better friend, and more, I would like to be. I should see someone besides workmates and my husband at least once a week - their unrivaled excellence not withstanding - and the laundry and my writing won't suffer for it.

Besides, if I'd like to start querying in the spring, I'll want at least twelve shoulders to cry on.

Zombies Eat Babies Eat Baby Trees

I got a little drunk last night and admitted to my husband that what I really want to do with my life is work on my writing and spend my days playing and teaching and being terrorized by the children we don't have yet. I remember his smile now with relief, and hope that I didn't through a film of inebriation channel terror into tolerance. I don't know when I became the sort of person who wants to serve baby trees instead of broccoli, and while I'm not sure I have the patience to bake bread with a preschooler, I don't think that will stop me from trying. I imagined myself as any number of things when I was growing up, but a mother was never one of them. I liked to play college with my Barbies - admittedly, they spent most of their time hanging out in the dormitories I built for them, and not so much in class - and while the collegiate adventures of Courtney and Skipper were not even in the smallest way realized when I was an undergraduate, it was still a sort of inevitable dream for me, acquiring a degree. That I'd claw the eyes out of anyone who tried to keep me from getting my education, including my own when laziness or poorly distributed schedules threatened, didn't make it any less of a dream. It was what I'd always wanted.

When I graduated, though, I remember one of the things I thought was that at least then if I were to become accidentally pregnant, my life wouldn't be over. I feared more having a child and having to give up the pursuit of my degree more than anything, including the zombie apocalypse. That I'm not afraid anymore, or at least not as afraid,  would've seemed to me as unlikely as needing to take out the stairs in Collins Hall and defend myself with my acoustic guitar (I hadn't read Max Brooks yet). But I was, and now I'm not (as much).

My husband's response to me was, following the smile, that I'd start writing childrens' books if we had children, to which I informed him that I can't indulge in page upon page of sexual tension in childrens' books or carve out hearts or curse, so.