The light is pretty much killing it this morning. It bashes into the white wall, plants itself on full-moons of log-ends. Shadow shapes appear on the painted cabinet: a crown! a microphone! a fishing line! A hunk of sea glass washes up next to the coffee maker. Light ricochets off snow in valiant sparks, then throws itself at me through window glass. When I try to meditate, it yells orange through my closed eyelids. I tilt my head into a beam of shade and inhale. Oooh, the light says, Aren’t I warm? Don’t you wish you were me? I exhale, inhale. Instead of peacefulness, a bouncy castle in my third eye. Light careens around the house screeching like a three-year-old, yapping like a collie running happy circles on the beach.
Our beloved recreation center closed indefinitely; we restart our membership at the club my salary once subsidized. When I worked downtown, I swam in this deluxe saline pool, killing off my stress by training for triathlons. One grief-coated spring, I counted laps using daisy petals in my mind’s eye and discovered—a month after my sister died–that I hadn’t fully exhaled since her funeral.
Emails and websites chant, “these times,” “these difficult times.” But the late fall rays bounce from the same glass tower across Larimer Street into the morning water. Sun rests on the bottom of the pool in wavy patterns, like sand shaped by ocean currents. Today I am a meatloaf swimming uphill. But my outstretched fingertips launch bubbles that rise, shining, to meet the skin dividing water from air. I approach the wall and flip, then glide through hundreds of miniature circles held in light.
In the lane next to me, a wormhole spouts opens, and—with one graceful kick–my niece swims over from Africa. Her dancing woman tattoo shines through the water, and her smile flashes as she glides by. Heat sears between my shoulder blades in the shape of the equatorial sunburn I earned swimming with her in Lake Malawi, in that time before “these times.” In a blink, she is gone again, and I haul my December gravity up the ladder, then plod my way home.
We stand on the cabin deck under a scatter of stars. Elk have tracked holes that stretch in long shadow lines through the snow. Thousands of Americans died today, and even more will die tomorrow. Today, I forgot to look up at all. The cold air holds the darkness, and I remember how ancient is the starlight, how finite this speck of humanity. The next morning, I sleep late. 5:45 pitch black turns to 6:45 faint light, making me second in line for coffee. We wait out the chill in scarves, under a blanket on the couch. Slowly, the sky brightens. One of us writes. One of us meditates. At 7:20, the switch is flipped, and a spotlight blazes over the ridge of Black Mountain. I yell upstairs, It happened, look! The bare trunks of aspen, standing in a penitent circle, are washed in pink.