A chorus of goodbyes and happy holidays in the office yesterday made me feel like it's nearly time to put down the tools. And while this means jetting off to family or a flurry of hosting obligations for most people, it spells utter relaxation for me. I admit, the imagery speaks of a lonely singleton far from home, but I'm feeling quite serene about this solitary time.
Last night I went for coffee with a friend in another neighbourhood. It was soft out; it must have rained while we were sipping and a mist still sat in the valley as I walked across the bridge. I kept thinking I'd get on at the next subway stop, but I ended up walking all the way. My banjaxed foot seemed to be working again and I was happy to put weight on it. And my hair got curly in that way I hate, but I didn't care because the next stop was home.
When I got inside, there were cards in my mailbox, some little gifts too. I brought them all up and looked at return addresses and stamps before I opened them up. And every gesture seemed slowly and gently folded, like cake batter, soft and glistening and delicious. I read this poem a few weeks ago and I keep thinking about that sparrow in the Christmas tree. By Billy Collins.
The first thing I heard this morning
was a rapid, flapping sound, soft, insistent—
wings against glass as it turned out
downstairs where I saw a small bird
rioting in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through
the enigma of glass into the spacious light.
Then a noise in the throat of the cat
who was hunkered on the rug
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in on the cold night
through the flap of the basement door,
and later released from the soft grip of teeth.
On a chair, I trapped its pulsations
in a shirt and got it to the door,
so weightless it seemed
to have vanished into the nest of cloth
But outside, when I uncupped my hands
it burst into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
then disappeared over a row of tall hemlocks.
For the rest of the day,
I could feel its wild thrumming
against my palms as I wondered about
the hours it must have spent
pent in the shadows of that room,
hidden in the spiky branches
of our decorated tree, breathing there
among the metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,
its eyes wide open, like mine as I lie in bed tonight
picturing this rare, lucky sparrow
tucked in a holly bush now,
a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.