Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Notes on Burning

I sat in my pew on Sunday, and he said from the pulpit, “All else will burn away,” which was to say our wit, our wealth, our beauty, our knowledge, will be consumed as dross when dead. And faith and hope, too, (or even. Even these!) won’t stand the flame and will curl and cool into ash. “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love."

"And at that moment," he said, or meant to say, "Only love will remain; we will be made of love."

***

I hold her on Monday. Seven pounds, fifteen ounces, and she flails and yawns and stuffs curled fists clumsily against little lips. She is newly minted and wondering at the arms she has found herself in. She is black haired, dark eyed, sniffing for her mother, blinking at my face, and I can’t help but notice that she is at this moment as close to grace as she will ever be: a warm, hungry bundle of helpless dependence, incapable of earning love, and blanketed and bathed in it regardless.

“I love you, little lady,” I say. “I’m so glad to finally meet you.” She responds by falling asleep and I spread her tiny toes against my palm.

On the drive home I stop at a light and see just ahead of me a gathering group of people beside two bodies writhing on the street. There is a motorbike tossed on its side, a smashed car, confusion, and the sound of my door slamming as I stop and run toward them. I am afraid of blood. I’m afraid I will see blood and brains spilling out of ears, but I am more afraid of doing nothing. What I do see is a pair of lost shoes lying on the street thirty feet from their owner.

I come to the men. One is grabbing at his chest with fingers spread wide, trying to breathe, moaning and rolling in pain. The other man is lying flat on his stomach against the pavement saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I ask questions, call a wife and say, "There’s been an accident," and pass the phone to her husband who shapes his moans into sentences while I try to protect the man who is sorry from oncoming traffic. He doesn't hear my offers to move him off the road, so I stand close to him, waiting for help. And I gather from the pieces that he was driving too fast, too carelessly and so he spread bits of his bike and bits of his friend across the pavement. I stand, uncertain. Everything takes so long.

And then I see the ambulance making its way toward us. They will be fine, I decide; it looks like they will be fine. There is hardly any blood. No brains at all. As I leave, the apologizing man looks up and notices me for the first time at his feet. We stare at each other for a moment. He has dark eyes and bare toes. I walk away.

***

The mythology of the phoenix circles the story of its death. That at the end of its very long life the bird builds a nest of cinnamon twigs which it ignites and then burns, burns, burns its self to death, leaving all that it was, all that it had done and left undone, behind. And from this dust a new phoenix arises: an afterlife of a bird. And it all sounds like love to me.

9 comments:

Mike S said...

Hey, I'm 1st!! Guess staying up all hours has its rewards after all. Great post. Strange how many times over the years I've seen 'squeemish' folks pitch right in and help unflinchingly when needed. It restores your faith in the belief that most folks are nice and caring:)

Cherie said...

Bold, you are, and cool and brave and I love it! You burned your nest, and here you are rising out of the ashes.

What Mike said I've found to be true as well - most people pitch in to help when the going gets rough. Good girl, Angela. Glad all ended without brains coming out of ears and with life holding on for those two guys.

Snuggle that little baby for me, will ya.

Deanna said...

I so like what you wrote, and though I'll miss Sitting There Alone, it doesn't seem that you are anymore. I will ponder your relationship with the cinnamon nest.

I don't like the fact that on my monitor screen your words only show up on the dark background when I highlight them. Hope I can figure out how to make the words visible...

Deanna said...

Hey, I see the words today. Was the color darker or is it my aging eyes doing weird things? Anyway, this blog is very nice - the picture at the top's beautiful.

Angela said...

mike, staying up all hours does have its rewards. in my case, it's what i'm paid to do!

cherie, i got to snuggle her last night. yum-a-licious.

deanna,
i know. i'll miss it, too!
still sitting alone, though. i think i've just made a little more peace with it (but i get what you're saying, and yes.)
weird with the colours. i dunno what's going on. i didn't change anything, but i'm glad it's working for you now because i used to read a blog that i had to read in the comment section since the regular screen wasn't legible. that got pretty old, pretty quick.

Cecily said...

This is rich - the colour, the imagery, the smell of cinnamon, the rise from the ashes. Rich, rich treat on the internet. Thanks.

Becca said...

Love the new page! Great post too.

Kimberly said...

I love what you've done with the place... thanks for inviting us to your new home.

Angela said...

cecily, thanks for coming on over! i know it's such an arduous journey from s.t.a.

kimberly,
thanks! i'm a sucker for remodelling.