Gimme Shelter

Protection, shield, cover, roof.  Shade, security, defense, refuge. Sanctuary. Asylum. Safe keeping.  Haven. Safe haven, sanctum, house. Port in a storm, bolt hole. Hideaway, retreat.  Shelter can be anywhere. What we create, not made of wood and steel, but rather this gnarled tree or that one. The way they say you carry your stories on your back and in your heart, that you are all you will ever need to make of yourself, a home.

Make of yourself a home, and of course in the great green growing wide world are all kinds of homes, stick, branch, mud, fur, bone. And in those homes certain other kinds of homes, mites on feathers, and inside those mites bacteria and then cells, back out again, through the skin and into the sunlight and air.

The way looking down through the shelter of our too high cedars (the ones that crack in heavy snow, the ones we are asked to evacuate for every time there is a windstorm) at my roof you would see the shingles and moss, the holes where the rats got in, the place where the birds made their nest, you would see your way past the darkened pipe of the uncleaned chimney and into the attic, past the rodent chewed parasols and old moving boxes, the insulation nests and nailed boards to the light switch beside the handle where the string gets pulled to create stairs, until you would be standing next to my youngest son’s room, his own home in there, with the tree of vinyl 45s stapled to the wall, incense on windowsill, the door shut, headphones and music all the time, the messy bedding, a small mountain of covers filling the well between the  wooden frame my father painted and the clothes on the floor.

That too, a kind of home, where the brain injured cat sleeps and snores, and then again through the floor, past the water stain from the tub leaking and into the living room, where two more blankets create another type of port, a shelter that is of everything and the building place for everything else, the grey great couch where you might nap to shut out the world and heal, a place to dream harder than before.

First the grey fleece blanket an eighteen-year-old gave at Christmas, as a soft thing to hold while napping, because he now can see how tired you can get, because finally the right medication and therapist, and able to move beyond his own bleakness at last.  And if you had known what he was like, and the struggles and struggles to get here, the fact of sleeping under this gift, this woven warm and safe embrace would be true haven.

And lying on top of that grey gift, the first quilt your mother ever made, her stitching it one of the few things you might remember of Canada before the move, the red white and blue a celebration before the fact, the way the weight of it is exactly right, how seams around the edges are unraveling, how each child slept underneath it at times, in pairs or alone. The weight of both of these things driving you down into the deepest naps, where whole villages and lives are lived and lost and beautiful and forgotten and you will rise from them as if through water, the red light through eyelids before coming to.

Then you might rise from your nap, and head back out into the world beyond the walls, with your obedient dog by your side, and rising too from the fog that envelops after deep sleep, watch the dog stretch and head for the door, find your Bean boots, the leash, the door and a key. Need to beat the school bus home so quick glance at phone for work email then past the mailbox, on the gravel where we stay during daylight, to the field and then the forest, now the trees are turning, now the pussy willows out and then the old growth. Mossy branches and puddle, the side path you cannot see unless you know it is there, the quiet air, thick with forever.  

Then faster comes the light in the turning of the year and one day the puddle is gone and the moss is translucent and the path is thorns-grown tighter and so it all spins, in and out, over and year, we circle the sun and the moon circles us and we rise and we rest and we dream and we work and we dream and we rest and we rise and the moon circles us and we circle the sun and the sun moves the named planets and all around that sun a thousand more suns and beyond them still more and then back in again, the rushing blood, heartbeat, the pulsing cells. The way one thing becomes another and you fall through, rising.  

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