Watching the wind
by Jesse Loren
The yard sounds like the ocean today. Waves and waves of fluttering leaves roar like the ocean tides. One wave after the other swings the catalpa tree due south, then south again. Few birds are out. And the ground is clear of all leaves. A honeybee buzzes onto a rose. A bumblebee helicopters over to the trumpet vine. The wind blows the other way whipping the oaks, the catalpa and the eucalyptus. The catalpa branches bend almost 45 degrees, like respectful guests in a foreign land.
I am in the kitchen. It is tidy, save for the boxes from the failed installation of roll-out cabinet drawers. This is the time of year I try to organize my nest. My mother is on the couch recuperating after eye surgery.
I am watching the wind, an unseen force, like time, bends the living, without malice, just blowing through and again in waves.
My mother asks me where she is. She has only taken eye drops, nothing narcotic. She wonders what strange house this is with the red and blue rooms, the neutral tones and chickens painted everywhere. Almost hourly, she remarks at the warmth of this house.
Where is Winters, she asks, as if the history of my being in this place for nearly 17 years has left her. Time, for her, is like leaves fallen from seasons past.
Is this my house? She asks, then adds, I live somewhere by water right?
Yes, you live at the beach and a lagoon rests in your backyard.
Yesterday, she was perfectly reasonable except for insisting that there was a prowler on her upstairs deck and that is why she came back. That is why she forgot her things. She wants to put a fence around her property to feel safe again.
I want her to feel safe too. But what she wants to contain is not the relics of the 1950s — the bikes, pedal cars, old Coke machines and milk bottles; she wants to contain the id and ego that makes up Regina. Identity, for her, is in relationship to her things. Mom is to milk bottle as tree is to branch.
My mom remembers who she loves, but where she is or what day or time, is gone. She used to argue about politics, but not anymore. She is so afraid of saying something stupid, she no longer goes to her meetings. A lifetime of business experience, but now the mail goes unopened and unanswered. She is sleeping soundly with three dogs cuddled up to her.
I am trying to remain patient no matter what is asked. No matter how many times.
I see myself in the Catalpa. There are only two blushes of spring bloom left, but those blooms are beautiful. The tree bends and sways with the invisible hand of the wind, but in bending, it does not break.