It’s the stars, the night air, the talk of falcons and firewalking that breaks me.
We are standing under the Oak tree in Nicole’s front yard, and the light from her old farmhouse spills gold at our feet, onto our faces, onto the Oak. The tree may be as old as her house, or even older, a gravitional age, pulling us towards the thick body that is its trunk–and I’ve already fallen under the enchantment that is her home–it’s old coziness, the worn edges, the stone hearth that holds her woodstove, warming the house with a bed of coals. I watched wonderstruck as she lit candles on her Christmas tree, her long wavy black hair falling over her shoulders, and I decided then that she had a grace about her, a capacity for kindling spirit that perhaps she wasn’t even fully aware of, and I find myself warmed and nourished by her hearth and her candlelight.
Indeed, it’s nearly too warm, with all the holiday faces clustered around, so I step outside, where Orion’s belt hangs low in the sky, glittering above a horizon of pine trees. And I remember, then, the days before I had children, and the crush of responsibility, when I would drive, drive, drive the full moon nights on an empty country road, drive until there was nothing but pines and stars and me, and I would stand in the embrace of wonder, and my eyes would drink the light of stars.
And it is then that I am broken, and not sad for it, but longing for the spill that comes, the emptying, the palms up, the fingers splayed, so that I hold nothing but light. Starlight and the wild black of night folds around me, we are talking, husband and friends, we are tumbled in the black folds of Night’s skirt, and she sweeps us up, and shakes us into wonderment. Magic dust long settled in the pond of my heart is brought near the surface, catches the starlight, glinting promise. The spring that nourishes me gurgles to life, spills into the calm of the pond, and everything changes. Silver fish swim in me, darting through my cool waters, and the springwater tickles the resolute form that once was my pond, my life, small, contained, stagnant, and is now over-filled, trembling at the edges with the promise that is the simplest life, the joy of breaking open and breathing the feathered air of night.