week of depression
draped on the bath tub
Alone in our apartment, I decide to call my mother in England to find out how she is. Suddenly it feels important to know that she is all right.
A little out of breath, she tells me her life is somewhat difficult right now, but she is planting her garden nonetheless, between showers. She describes this for me: spinach, onions, chard, even potatoes. "Not a real crop, I don't have room for that here. It may sound silly, but I still want to have the potato experience, so I'm planting just five." At these words, this image, I begin inexplicably to weep.
Unwilling to disturb her equilibrium at this moment, I tell her goodbye as soon as I can manage. Moving the short distance from my desk to the wingback chair by the window, I kneel backwards on it, looking at the sky. Through easy-flowing tears, I watch as a mourning dove lands just three feet away on the fire escape. It perches on one of our neglected window-boxes, and then settles down comfortably between two dead geraniums. This sight seems both to ease and prolong my crying, which finally ebbs away into a boundless sense of peace. For maybe half an hour I remain perfectly still, and so does the bird, except for an occasional movement of its filmy eyelids.
Later that day I am impelled to climb out onto the fire escape and pull up the dead plants, crumbling the packed soil with my fingers until it is loose and aerated again.
back from her trip
my wife with a tray