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Don't rush it ...
The mallard’s bright green head bobs up and down, up and down.
His orange webbed feet pad across slushy ice, skittering side to side
Near the shore, he’s joined by squawking family members.
A few feet of slate gray open water, underneath a brilliant blue sky
They’re bobbing and swimming and drinking the fresh, cool lake water
Mr. Mallard looks ready to dive in. He nods his yellow bill toward the snow.
Then, he pauses. Skitters back to the open water. To the safety of his friends.
It’s too cold near the middle of the icy lake.
Spring is coming, he thinks. But I’m not about to dive into the iceberg.
Leave that to the loons.
A young woman is walking by the ducks, a few weeks later.
Bright blue puffer jacket, white woolen mittens, pom-pom hat jammed on, hard.
She stares straight ahead as she walks quickly, then slowly, pushing the black stroller with the air-filled rubber wheels, over the rocky and slushy path.
A jogging stroller. Ha ha! A good joke. Her baby is six months old. He lolls lazily strapped in his seat, cushioned by blankets and the latest stroller technology.
He yanks at a plastic mirror, a hanging soft toy.
He likes to look at her, so he’s facing backwards towards her, because she likes to look at him, too.
Could you really jog like this? Does her body jog anymore? The parts inside are all still scrambled from when his giant head smushed up into her short-torsoed ribs, and the skin stretched wider and wider, but didn’t break, as he stretched his tiny legs inside her womb.
She imagines being here alone. Being anywhere, alone. She thinks of her freedom and looks down at her heart, beating outside her body, crowned with ruddy little puffy cheeks.
She imagines playgrounds and school and soccer games and friends and clutching a tiny hand crossing the street.
He gurgles. Drool and spit-up drip down the sides of his mouth. She grabs a burp cloth, gently dabs at his face.
Too soon, this instinct of hers will embarrass him.
Still, their eyes will find one another across the schoolyard. Across the world.
An old man steps gingerly, crossing the street toward the lake where the ducks play and the woman does not jog with her jogging stroller.
The man holds out one sinewy hand into traffic, warning approachers to slow down.
His other hand he rests gently on the lower part of her back, her face screwed up tightly as she pushes forward a walker, step by shaky step.
They have always been proud of each other, bragging one about the other, about silly things like breakfast dishes or puzzles or talents, hidden and unknown.
He used to follow behind her, watching her back, so proud, smiling sheepishly.
Now, they were slow. She was recovering, again. Maybe it was now their state of being. Healing and recovering from one thing or another.
Still, he placed his hand on her back, and he felt that same electrical, pulsing charge that he once felt when she first grabbed his hand, there at school.
She saw in his eyes that laughing, dancing smile of possibility and hope.
Then, children and grandchildren, and wedding anniversaries. And being seated in the center of the family table, only missing half the conversations because the hearing came and went, and who could remember to turn on their hearing aids, anyway?
It was invariably too quiet or too loud with them on.
They could still see, fine, anyway. And walk gingerly, together.
The air of life is always pregnant, expecting what is next, what is coming
I wait for it anxiously so often. I fear it and anticipate it and wonder if it will ever come
I ride my bike to the edge of the lake.
I see them all: the winter mallard, testing the ice. The quixotic and frustrated and smitten mother. The elderly couple, the days that once stretched before them together, shrinking in the horizon.
I am them all.
I shiver in the early spring wind, pull down my stocking cap, zip up the fleece I pulled back out of the closet on April 28.
What you are waiting for will come.
Look around you at this spellbinding world and all the love it has for you in the waiting.
Don’t rush it.
A Few Notes …
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