If only my thoughts were as orderly as seventy-eight black birds on a telephone wire in November. As if traffic were incidental and wind a given, they twitter and preen and flock from this wire to that with effortless intention. Like charred popcorn, they flutter up, bump, pop, and settle right back down onto a simple line, firm and flexible.
It’s the falling that might not stop.
It’s the confined narrow space where no one will find me if I fall in, no matter how loud I call for help.
It’s the darkness.
Thirty years later, I’m afraid of Grannie’s back porch well. Afraid I might lean over too far. Afraid I might drop the bucket. Afraid I won’t let the bucket down far enough to get some water.
I, mostly, eyed it. Crossing the porch, I skirted the edge of it and exhaled on the other side of it. I told myself, it’s covered up. I said, you won’t fall in. But the wood over top was warped, and the bricks seemed rickety.
We didn’t need the well except when the pipes froze or the pump broke or the electricity cut-off. I don’t know why somebody didn’t tear it down, topple the bricks down the hole. Make it disappear. But then I’m thinking, doesn’t seem as easy as filling in the hole I was digging to China.
Wells run dry. Deep wells, they too, can run dry. But water pooled at the bottom, same as always. She wasn’t dry, just no longer pertinent.
While the earth and the sun
and the mountains and the streams
sing your praise, great God of heaven,
I offer a little praise of my own.
Praise God, with muddy floors and sticky counters.
Praise God, with dusty computers and lint-filled dryers.
Praise God, with toothpaste on shower curtain.
Praise God, with big smiles and loose teeth.
Praise God, with cardboard boxes transformed into time machines.
Praise God, with low bank balances and big bills.
Praise God, with no meal plan one hour before dinner.
Praise God, with children – sick and late to school.
Praise God, with Sunday school lesson half-way prepared and wrinkled dress.
Praise God, with sniffling noses and uncombed hair.
Praise God, with gutter leaning and shutter peeling.
Praise God, with one hubcap missing.
Praise God, with litter box in need of cleaning.
Praise God, with mascara smudged and a cut from shaving.
Praise God, with shoe soles flapping and missing buttons.
Praise God, with deadline looming and surprise visitor.
Praise God, with broken toe plus an unruly in-law.
In all times and in all places,
and in all manner of faces and spaces,
let all that is real and immediate and present
bellow and whisper
scream and whimper
cheer and wail
praise to you, O God,
creator, sister, sustainer.