Curve Ball

In the Crook of a Curved Branch


Soft curves, sharp focus.

Black layers edged in curls of the setting sun’s reflected light on a cloudless night.

The white is an illusion; he will blend seamlessly into night within the hour.

Red-winged blackbirds seem in a frenzy to find one another, cawing madly and swooping among the highest branches.  Other birds, tiny and tea-colored, dive into marsh grass, leaving weaving trails which last only seconds before the reeds and early summer stalks unbend and unbow.  A rare bird of prey circles overhead.

Once again I’m alone in the woods–the same predicament that was the subject of my first favorite picture book, whose words I memorized to give the appearance of being a precocious reader.

Well, not quite alone.  The only traditionally visible human, however.

That childhood book, Betsy’s Adventure in the Woods, ended before the protagonist’s bedtime, when her big brother found her and lead her back home to her family.  My outing will end in a solitary walk under a sliver of moon to an empty home.  Life has hurled some curve balls.

I am not particularly well-constituted for them.

“Yesterday I did not know that today it would be raining.”  Edward Gorey once wrote.

Even when it’s something God-awful, I’d prefer to know what’s coming.

“Is there something I should pick up for dinner?”

“Surprise me,” my son says, echoing his father.

“Pleasantly, or unpleasantly?” I echo him, too. 

Of course it was not my plan to be a widowed mother of still growing children, although that is always a possibility when one enters the sacrament of marriage and receives the blessing of little ones.

My husband Jim was a planner, for all of us. He meticulously mapped accounts for our children’s educations, to culminate in commencements he would not live to attend, and for a retirement he would never enjoy.  I had to fire up his computer recently–after my most recent catastrophic computer missteps.  The screen still flashes reminders of weekly work meetings at which he is absent, and several programs ask me for passwords I do not know. My heart hurt when I saw financial files he had assembled, with titles like “What to do  if I cannot.” (Even those were cushioned for my eyes: he used an “if,” and not a “when.”)

I remember standing behind him as he sat at his computer, probably drafting these very files.

“I should show you how to do this.  And this is a list of things I do every season outside.”

He would not live to see spring.

“I can’t. It won’t be any easier.” My head was down, tears falling to the wide dark pine floorboard.

“But it would be easier for me.”

And I saw in his eyes that he needed to know he would still be helping take care of us.  “Anything that makes it easier for you,” I thought, but did not say, and tried to stop crying.

I am not a natural planner, perhaps because I grew up with a curiously exaggerated sense of the probability of imminent disaster.

Paradoxically, that fear, which bled into fears of the relatively ordinary–from highway driving to having blood taken to flying–disappeared only once something I had never thought to fear made itself known, and everything else “dissolve[d] in a moment/ like salt in a weakened broth.”


A moth lands and dawdles in tattered grass in front of me before flitting off again. One wing, dotted with tiny white hearts, follows a meandering path, broken only very slightly above one heart, a tributary scar.  The other wing is pinked, sheared off below another cluster of hearts.

I wonder how it keeps aloft with such a large missing piece.

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About Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She also is an adjunct professor at a law school on the banks of the Charles and loves that dirty water, as she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2020 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with Wordpress protocol and the numerous other wee buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.
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6 Responses to Curve Ball

  1. scillagrace says:

    Tender, your Jim. I wonder what my Jim might have said if he allowed the “when” not “if”? So much NOT the planner that he couldn’t bring himself to list or mention or muse about a time he would not be around. I suppose that’s a different kind of curve to deal with. Still, life remains “wiggly”, as Alan Watts would say.

    • Stephanie says:

      I think we’ve finally found a way in which our lives have diverged: I was the one who couldn’t bear to think or speak about the “when,” and my Jim had (and gracefully and without complaint bore) the burdens of plnning ahead.

  2. wendykarasin says:

    Deep loss, directional, transformational, a journey of living on with what we thought we could not, Allowing myself to feel that pain, at first unimaginable, took me to places I would not have imagined. With widened feelings and perspectives, my life opened up. These were the words my mother spoke after she died. In the crossword puzzle of the New York Times on Sunday 4/4/10, her name was the clue for number 68 across, Blossom. Answer: Open up.

  3. Pingback: Curve (Rose) | What's (in) the picture?

  4. Straight from the heart; I can only imagine what you must be going through.

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