Today I planted spring flowering bulbs in a wide shallow bowl of duck egg blue. The pot was heavy once filled and I didn’t know quite where to put it, eventually settling on a flat rock in the garden near the pond. It looks forlorn there, covered in mulched hay like an empty nest, but the wish and possibility of future beauty felt hopeful and good. I sat and drank coffee on a garden chair contemplating the human recipe of hope.
My mother purchased the pot at a nursery closing down sale years ago. We went together and I bought a camellia with cerise double blooms and an interesting twisted trunk. Now I have the camellia and the pot, my mother having recently moved to a smaller unit, further away, downsizing. I was surprised at my feelings when she declared it was time for a change, a small abandonment.
How we cling!
How we, ultimately, must always learn to let go.
I remember my father reading aloud the parts of books he found too exquisite to keep silent. ‘Listen to this.’ He would say, clearing his throat before reading a paragraph or two into the quiet. A description of a mountainside, the shape of a sparrow wing, sometimes an entire poem. Something other than who we were and where we lived, something of someone else’s mind.
He would stop at the end of a sentence and settle again in his chair, reading silently, the curl of smoke from a cigarette forgotten in his concentration. He could read two, three, four books at a time and lose none of the essence of any. Pick them up and lose himself in seconds to that otherplace we go within pages.
He would read a favorite book often, once a year or so, and I do the same. Sliding once again under the silken waters of the familiar and the beautiful. The small death as the last page is turned consoled only in knowing the world is still there, waiting. The fire lit within at the joy of a new author discovered. ‘I like you’ we think. ‘I want to travel along awhile’.
I can’t imagine a world without stories, I wouldn’t ever want to.
When my father passed away we found a ragged pile of notebooks he’d kept. Lines from poems he’d loved and lines he’d written himself, hidden away for his own enrichment, with no purpose other than a certain bulwark against the vicissitudes of life. A place of comfort and exploration, lying under the surface, ready to bloom into the future. Like spring bulbs for the soul.
With such small beginnings our lives are built piece by piece, thread by thread. Every life story woven through with lost dreams and unexpected miracles. I don’t know what my life will be once spring waves across this part of the globe, none of us do – and what a reminder we have had of that this last few months. Still, the bulbs are plump with concealed energy and I have no doubt they will bloom with or without me, just as writers will write and seasons will change and hope will carry us through.
Leslie Thiele is a writer based in the south west of Western Australia. Her short fiction centres around her characters reactions to the world they live in and social change. A keen student of human nature in all its manifestations, Leslie drops people into imagined situations and environments and waits to see what they will do. Recently completing her Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and literature at Edith Cowan University’s regional campus in Bunbury has further refined her writing and led to her gaining recognition for pieces of her work in various competitions, events and spoken performances. Skyglow is her debut collection of short stories.