Now she sits at a small plain patio just outside her studio, a cool, dark walk from the dorms. Cement, cracked and damp with yesterday’s rain. An old wrought iron and table set, black paint peeling but not yet rusting, holds her body as well as her coffee mug. Her spirit is tugging at the leash, smells earth, grass, thistle, pollen from a dozen sources, hears Blue Jay, warbler, swallow. She draws on her coffee like a cigarette. Exhales caffeine.
The highway in the distance is a dull reminder of rubber on pavement: The World. The same way her bed, with its smooth clean sheets, the electricity that filled her room with artificial light before dawn, and the gasping Mr. Coffee in the kitchen, reminded her. She is under no delusions of edenic seclusion or escape. But she doesn’t have to turn on the news. Doesn’t need to hear stories about savage loss, grief that cannot be captured and subdued, humanity stripped by those who have already given up their own.
No. She’d rather focus on the three nearly perfect drops of water, three sisters made of dew, that have collected themselves exactly in the center of the back rod of a wrought iron chair. Hang there full of light and birdsong.
She’s found a pocket of green thistles that haven’t hit August heat yet, haven’t burst out in purple finale like the last statement on a fireworks display:
The tin roof of a barn building. The gray cement blocks of a studio wall. The flash of all-out-every-single-wing-span white bars on a mockingbird’s feathers, seen from beneath, against a pale turquoise sky scudded with morning clouds.
She is building beauty here, storing grace. Hopes to bring some of it back with her across the divide.
Like those three jewels of water still hanging, she doesn’t know how long she’s got before gravity or evaporation pulls everything in another direction.
Just for this window of grace, catch light. Hold it, reflect it. Revel in it.
How can she look away? These spheres contain everything she ever hopes to find. Everything she ever hopes to become. Suspended, curved perfection. A sister on either side. How lucky is that?
The moon continues her descent, rotating out of the scene like a dancer who cherishes her role. Stars and planets keep the slow waltz across the sky unseen, know that holding their places is crucial to the choreographic whole. The throaty clutch and croak of crows as they make their slow way across a field, hop from bush to dead tree branch to grassy clearing. A thin weave of cricket voices rises up, holds this morning together.
A fiery star burns through the greenery, joins the three pearly sisters glowing on iron, and for a moment, the sacred number blesses all with memory of what really is real. There is North, and South, and West, and East. What else do I need to know? she asks.
Morning answers, That one plus one plus one plus one equals, only and always, One.