I waited all winter to tell you

under the ancient oak
an empty picnic table

I wrote those lines late last December after a walk with Chester, the big white dog. I remember well the afternoon we wandered in the gloaming, he with all the bounce and romp of a puppy and I with some elegiac tang induced by another year’s looming end.

fog swirling mist
descends upon the night

the stars are crying.

Why so sad? I wonder now in summer’s glare.

summer afternoon shade
untied my shoes

I wanted to tell you how the table surprised me that afternoon when I turned left on the path instead of right. There were no tables anywhere else in sight, just this one simple wooden stopping place.  I waited through January, February, the bluster of March to give it to you, not from the vantage point of the path which ran past it, but with the solidity of its worn wooden bench beneath me, with the joy of describing the summer solstice meal I ate from atop its uneven surface, with the fervent vow to eat al fresco more this summer than last.

So much depends upon a wooden picnic table in a winter afternoon.  I felt a new comprehension of William Carlos William’s 1923 poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

I wanted to tell you how my table seemed embedded in the grass, as if it had roots like the oak above it, how it was the soft brown of shadow on bark with bright orange streaks where a kind of moss grew upon it as if it were a living thing.

By April I vowed to eat at a different picnic table each week this entire summer. I would dine under the sky! Describe parks and beaches and campgrounds! Find new vantage points!

Then I wondered; would that plan celebrate the novel and restless over the warm familiar? Maybe instead, I should resolve to meet this table and this table alone with my basket all summer.

so much depends

I think of Monet’s Haystacks, the artist’s study of light upon a common object.

I think of Antonio Porchia‘s slim volume, Voices, the writer’s light fixed on common man.

I have scarcely touched the clay and I am made of it.

I think of something as solid as wood in a world which feels more like a river than stone.  Anticipation is delicious.

under the ancient oak
an empty picnic table
summer afternoon shade

Summer begins yesterday.  I wait as long as I can.  Noon turns to afternoon turns to almost twilight. I’m ready with camera and Chester and a brown paper bag full of first peaches because it’s the kind of day where I don’t have time to cook.

We go the long way, take the path which curves first left, then right, then around the bend of the seasonal creek, the path which places the setting sun behind my shoulders which casts my shadow long and makes me look as if I’m always arriving.

Chester pulls on the leash.
And there under the ancient oak.

It’s demolished. The table top now lies at the bottom of the creek bed.

“Certainties are arrived at only on foot,” Antonio Porchia writes in Voices.

Past tense and future crumble the present I was given and never received. As I walk home, I know. I waited too long to whisper my secret wish to picnic with you, but I will tell you now.

~ With high hopes for surprises along your own path, C

1 thought on “I waited all winter to tell you

  1. Pingback: Cherries and haiku | backyard sisters

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