Edges

Meeting the ocean at La Push with my Mama, 1981

i was born between the mountains and the sea

i grew to adulthood with both in sight, always

i am accustomed to living twixt coast and jagged peaked landmass

and while both may appear impassable, fixed, solid, impenetrable

i have learned that both are fluid, changeable, dynamic.

there are no solid edges

i am living these days with my bare feet in the changing tide

standing on the edge of the mountains and the saltwater

a mother already, and still just-Sarah, and a mother-not-yet

*    *    *

it has occurred to me that labor is its own landscape

like a river delta between the cascades and the salish sea

necessary for transitioning, sure

but unlike that river delta

populated with tall grasses and perched herons

labor ain’t no space for meditating, for Contemplating All that’s Changing

it is a place of work, of losing oneself and finding oneself again

so that while everything happens slowly, and for a reason, dictated by thousands of years of biology,

the arrival of that new person is still a sudden thing

one day i will be pregnant

the next day he will be here,

laying on the bed between us

and i know we will look at him

then look into each other’s eyes and drown a little

still on land and utterly at sea

*    *    *    *

Ryan and I found each other because of the ocean

I was missing the saltwater, living bound in by two mountain ranges

he was a stranger, who offered to visit the water for me, and toss a rock in

a few months later, 5 years ago this weekend,

we climbed to thirteen thousand feet in the Colorado Rockies

and the wind stood still

and the earth fell away beneath us

we sat on the ridgeline, on the razor edge of the San Juan mountains

on the edge of who we had been before

and we became Us

We spent a year after that with nine-hundred miles between us

living on the raw edge of love across distance

living off the words that we cobbled together to express the landscape we found ourselves in

We committed ourselves to living with this Edge in sight, always

Elderly couple hiking at La Push in the fog. Ryan and I want to be them when we grow up.

*    *    *    *

it is late on a Friday night, and he is due in eight days

i am watching his tiny back arching and curling under my belly button,

gasping quietly as his tiny knees and feet jab outward, forming tents out of my skin,

i am reading an interview with Terry Tempest Williams on the line between beauty and fear,

a concept she once compared to standing on the edge of the land, where Portugal met the sea,

fighting the urge to fall from the cliffs, “not out of despair… out of this sheer desire to merge.”

“I realized what Rilke was talking about: beauty as the beginning of terror.

It’s that realization that we are so small, and yet we are so large in our capacity to relate to the beauty of things.

So, again, that paradox. My life meant so little at that moment.

It was just much more important to be part of the sea.”


*    *    *    *

With Ma at La Push, 29 years after she took me there for the first time. 8 months pregnant with Callum.

I spent the day with my mother today,

she came to the midwife, and heard his heartbeat

we ate lunch, and saw an exhibit of Japanese woodblock prints

we noticed the way the lines of the mountains rested against the lines of the skies against the lines of the oceans

at home she helped me get the last of my planting done

so that i could rest easy and take comfort in our homespace in these final days before the babe arrives

we drank tea, and she showed me the journal she kept in the weeks before and after I was born

29 years ago tonight she went into labor to bring me into the world.

tonight she read two books to her grandson, who was awake and restless under my skin

and we said goodbye, knowing that there is a good chance that when we see each other next,

she will be meeting her grandson

and we will all be standing together in the changing tide

on the edge of all that has been

and all that has become

*    *    *    *

So on this, the 29th anniversary of the night my mother went into labor to bring me into the world

on this, the 29th anniversary of my father’s  journey into fatherhood

Happy Father's Day, Poppa-san...

on this weekend, the fifth anniversary of my commitment to Ryan

and the first anniversary of our public commitment, in the eyes of our loved ones

on this, the verge of Ryan’s first father’s day…

on this, the edge between all that has been

and all that begins when this little boy is born

i am sitting here in tears

writing these jumbled words

for each of you

Thank you,

for teaching me Love.

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3 Comments

Filed under basic goodness, Change, Family, fathers, fathoming, gratitude, History, love, Mothers, oceans and mountains, outside, Peace, photographs, poetry, stories, watching it all go by

3 responses to “Edges

  1. theresa

    Well… this definitely turned on the tears. both early this morning when I read it and now. coulda watered all the plants we got in last night without moving the hose. I am so thankful for the day we had. To get the chance to float with you from midwife to the archives to the Hokusai prints to ice cream to garden to conversation and late-night tea and reading to Callum was this incredible gift that I didn’t expect. I drove out of West Seattle in this warm fog [which probably led to the bottom side of the West Seattle bridge and Beacon Hill], just soaking in all the thoughts of the day. And then, right after I crossed the Stilly and headed for Starbird Hill, a gold light caught my eye way out to the West. A perfect half-moon facing north and hanging low in the sky. A rich deep yellow-gold color with sheets of clouds creating a marbeled reddish surface across it. A perfect silhouette of a very pregnant woman’s belly, waiting in that timeless edge in the last few weeks before giving birth, the outer curve mirrowing the Great Wave off Kanagawa. And then to come home, talk once again with you, and end the day by receiving “Edges.” I don’t know when I’ve had such a meaningful or more satisfying space of time in so many ways. Thank you for all you’ve taught us. For coming into our lives 29 years ago tomorrow. For yesterday. For your outpouring of thought and observation on paper. [That includes electronic papyrus.] Here’s to seeing the rest of the views of Mt. Fuji with you, greeting that special baby boy, and the simple details and richness of everyday life in new ways. With love always… m

  2. Michelle

    Raw beauty will always be loved. Huge moments of blessed bliss surround us and it keeps our stories going, with humblesness.
    M.

  3. Aimee

    mmm….
    mmmm………
    mmmmm…..
    and a satisfied sigh, filled to full.
    Thanks for “tasting live twice” in your writing, and sharing it with us.
    The sea beneath the cliff awaits…

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