Legs dangling over the edge, she lays back on the old wooden spool table in the goat yard. It is early November the air cold and snappy. The simple pine barn sits in the peach light of the late afternoon sun while geese fly over, crying to god, we are coming, we are coming. Does, curious, come alongside. Alice, murmuring deep, guttural nanny
talk the woman finds so soothing, lays her forehead against her shins, while Geraldine nibbles her fingers. She tries to remember this, the soft and bristly goat muzzle, the slight pressure against her legs, knowing in her bones that this is heaven. A more cautious young buck, fear overcome by curiosity, approaches her side, amber eyes vigilant to see what she will do next. What odd, human, and unpredictably silly, perhaps dangerous thing, will she do next and might it involve him? Yes please, then no. He is skittery about her attentions. It is dusk now. Her heart, bruised and swollen has brought her to this place, this goat yard temple. The western sky is satin strips of deep blue, violet and silver as the night blanket moves east to west above her. She studied this sky; such beauty in the stark, cold stillness of late afternoon. The leafless oaks and black birches, redolent and infused with ancient presence, heave themselves up to this shimmering sky, undulating, seeming to dance their way to the ear of the mother, whispering prayers to the coming night. It is the liminal hour, the space between, through which she might pass, or through which anything may enter. She knows this, has always known this and is held to this sky, this hour, just as she holds it to her. Like the trees, she too sends prayers, emergency invocations for her heart that feels underwater. She enters the mind of sky and waits.
She sees her mother’s hands ~ hardworking, big knuckled and raw ~ holding a delicate needle in the pooled light of the lamp ~ making tiny stitches, carefully attaching new satin edgings to heavy old woolen blankets. Deep blues, soft violets, plumy rose, silvers and pinks like the edges of the sky she lays under. First enfolding and stitching one side, then the other. As a child, she wondered at this. Would the blankets expand and unravel beyond all reason without the carefully bound raw borders? Or were these silky bindings her gift for children to stroke as they fall into sleep under skies of wool and satin and stars? Looking at the dusky sky she wonders if her mother created, with each tiny stitch, the borders of the days and nights of her daughter. Sunset beneath her chin, at her feet sunrise, between the blanket of night sky. Was this her way of arching over her in protection, like the Goddess Nut with her black and starry body?
It is revealed to her then, these ten years after her mother’s death, that with each meticulous stitch her mother worked to heal the raw and raveled edges of their grief stricken lives. She imagines her murmuring softly, working her elemental magic. With this stitch, beauty to you, with this stitch, love to you, may this stitch bring you joy and wonder. With this stitch deep rest to you, and sun to you and moon to you and stars to
you, my beloved, all the days and nights of your life. It is possible now to go on, knowing that the night’s blanket, the labor of each stitch enfolding the day’s beginning and end and all that comes between are a Mother’s blessing on her life. She arises and the goats follow her to the sanctuary of the barn.
Copyright © 2003 by Nora L. Jamieson