A snippet of poetry kept going through my head yesterday. The whole poem, "Rock Me to Sleep," is pretty dark and had no bearing on my thoughts. It was the first line, "Backward, turn backward, oh Time in thy flight. Make me a child again just for tonight," and the wish wasn't for me.
One thing does lead to another. I went out to check on the chicks. There are four now, two stripey and two white. I thought it would be nice to give the girls some greens, and went on out to the garden where the weeds are growing like...weeds. Before pulling fresh treats for the hens, I decided to divest a few more of the planting tubs of the accumulation of dead weeds from prior years. It became a mission to finish all the tubs, but as I came to the last two, tendrils from the corner wisteria kept tangling in my hair. Fine. So, grabbing the clippers, I pruned the wisteria. There were still the two tubs. By this time my back was beginning to scream, but I'd gotten stubborn about the project. What really kept me going, though, were the boys.
One of my neighbors has three sons and a daughter, as do I. I believe the oldest boy is in his last year of high school, and he had friends over yesterday. While out in the garden, I heard whooping, laughing, yelling back and forth, and the sound of toy guns firing. I could tell from the voices that these were young men, surely shaving by now, and probably very cool at school, but they were having the best time playing like little boys amongst the trees and rocks in the pasture. It made me ache for the time when my sons were children, playing self-invented games, laughing and chasing each other. "Backward, turn backward...." I wanted to kiss boys' grubby necks, hear them call me Mama, empty pockets of things only boys would treasure (I'd learned never to empty those pockets in the dark, and to reach in very carefully in case something was still alive). I wanted to put band-aids on scraped knees, and have small arms around my neck again. I wanted to scrub dirty-boy rings from the bathtub. I wanted to give and get good-night kisses as I tucked them in bed and say, "Good night, sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite. Wake up bright in the morning light to do what's right. Good night!" "Backward, turn backward...." Listening to the boys next door brought back a flood of memories and, memory being selective as it is, I chose all of the good ones. I don't really want to go back and have a do-over. I wouldn't change a thing about the men my sons have become. I don't need time to turn backward; I just enjoyed listening to those happy voices and revisiting my sons' childhood.
And I got all the tubs weeded and the wisteria pruned, and I gave an armload of greenery to the chickens. The chicks are doing well. It was a good day.