LIFE MEETING LIFE
Before them, briefly, an insect—winged, enormous, noisy—hovers in their faces, reminds them of prehistoric dragonflies that spanned two feet, recorded in Carboniferous-era coal. The father with his daughter—or maybe it’s a woman with her son— stop in their rain forest walk, say, in Costa Rica, at this buzzing blocking their way. Glad for a corroborating witness, more for self-belief than for recounting later, the parent’s eyes meet the child’s when the creature leaves them in the silent moist heat. Years after, when the child works, say, at Microsoft as a software engineer, they remember the encounter as a suspension of ordinary time, an intersection with truth. Life meeting life. How is it she—let’s just accept the parent is a mother, the child, a man now— is tearless, sun heating her back, as their sweet dog, deaf to the mail carrier, rests his unmoving head against the iron table leg during the phone call to bring the animal doctor who will end the sweet dog’s life? Why, in the sweet dog’s last hours, isn’t she lying beside him, encircling him in her arms, wetting his fur with her crying? She is now. She is now beside him on the floor. In a text she tells her son, We are saying goodbye at noon, and he writes back, He is a good dog, say goodbye for me. She does. And she kisses his soft fur head.
Yesterday, kyanite blue and black, a Leviathan — at least five inches long — flew over the rail, buzzed and bumped and bumped against the balcony glass before escaping again while I spoke on the phone to Aunt Bee who had just told me about her resident snapping turtle, her morning’s hawk sighting, the new legs on her pool’s pollywogs. The reverberation of her voice in my life since my tadpole days, in my body’s smallest bones, amplifies our history of love, our longing to catalog wonders we witness, to make her imagination mine, to make mine hers. Of course, I tell her of the dragonfly, and the dragonfly buzzes permanently into her own intimate experience.
DO YOU PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?
I am jealous of the syrinx, the ability / to sing two notes at once, / to harmonize with the self. Rebecca Hart Olander, “Avian Envy” from Hedge Apple I take piano lessons to scare myself and I am scared of the music today, also jealous of the 12-year-old at the recital, the girl who sits so straight on her bench and smiles through everything. Syrinx pleaded with the river nymphs to assist her escape. Their ability limited, they transposed her from flesh to reed— no longer fleet. But they let her sing like two women—or a choir, even— in synchronous notes when winds visit at water’s edge. Her rhizomes journey through damp mud, once rock, carried from upstream. To Pan, who stalked her, her hollowness a gift, to harmonize with breezes in nearby thickets, with mountain gusts. The Bach, does it only look tough? With my fingers, my self quavers suspended chords.
Pamela Hobart Carter is a teacher, artist, and writer. She has two geology degrees. Her plays have been read or produced in Seattle (her home), Montreal (her childhood home) and Fort Worth (never her home). She is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Her Imaginary Museum (Kelsay Books, 2020), Held Together with Tape and Glue (Finishing Line Press, 2021), and Only Connect (forthcoming from ShabdAaweg Press).A Covid-times activity: adding make-a-poem-at-home lessons to her website: https://playwrightpam.wordpress.com/.