The Mill: A Winter Pastoral (2)

April 30 1971—waiting for visiting hour at the hospital next to the mill.

Yesterday was Jonah’s birth day. A gray wet windy day like most of them since November. A violent chaotic delivery, mother and baby close to death. At this time of fulfillment I feel only confusion and readiness. I’ve hardly seen and not yet touched my child, yanked with stainless steel tongs from his snug sustaining womb into this world of bright lights, harsh sounds and endless room in which to grow and fight. Dragged out with straining and haste, the noise of command and protest and three shrieks whose echoes still terrify me.

I used to feel this way after visiting my grandmother in the nursing home. Birth, death. Our beginnings and ends, grim and superimposed. She died the day we bought the farm. We moved in and kicked out the squatters. Chris, the previous owner, worked in the mill to make the payments, but a year at it destroyed his family and his mind. That was our opportunity.

Last Easter Sunday.  An epiphany of Spring watching the alder buds burst. Erectile tissue stretching and unfolding to welcome the sun. Interrupted by the explosive sputter of the loggers’ D6 bulldozer in our driveway, leaking oil on the hyacinths.

I returned alone to our empty house from the hospital late yesterday afternoon. The grass was up, rough spots carpeted for the first time, deer browsing in the pasture. Seeds sprouted high in the little pots on the window sill.

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