Photo: Elisabeth Kokesh
I’m sitting in the morning shade on our front stoop. Sounds of my old dog digging for a cool bed come out from under the bush, while a House Wren sings atop our fence. The smell of damp soil, although wafting from the destruction of our landscaping, is comforting.
My infant Silver naps beside me in his stroller. I can’t help but look for breathing just as a mosquito finds his thigh and produces the answer I am seeking, life.
I’m drinking coffee as cold as the clichés of motherhood are old, trying to observe sensations that are my own and mentally navigate the dualities of being a mother and an artist. `
Coffee, in all its sub-par forms, doesn’t bother me. Hot and sloshing out of the mug as you drive the ungraded gravel road. Out of a travel mug that’s been rolling around in a tractor cab— each sip including a complimentary alfalfa fleck. The instant pack, resuscitated with lukewarm city water, but at least means you’re headed someplace new. And lastly, the supremely sub-par, hotel coffee. While on the road touring, my morning routine begins with an early wakeup. I shuffle down to the hotel lobby in my pajamas and cowboy boots, grab a cup of diesel-locomotive-hotel-go-juice, and peacefully drink it back in bed. Up until now, alone, and most assuredly on little sleep.
There’s a lonesomeness to pre-motherhood touring life that I won’t miss, paradoxically, a lonesomeness I’ll never get back. Coffee in the hotel bed now includes a 7-month-old, and, on cue, the coffee is the only one in bed. It has spilled. A 4-hour drive will now become 6, though we never would have discovered the Mom and Pop off-route if a blow-out diaper didn’t demand it.
The mind fractures to be a mother, a touring musician, and a writer with an album due, and time itself is rearranged, like a dying star giving birth to new planets.
A hawk calls as she flies overhead; red-tail flashing as she outmaneuvers an angry swarm of songbirds. Warning calls, battle hymns, and the coming funeral dirge echo above the Flathead River. Blinded by the sun, my squint allows for the same visibility you’d find while peering through two blind-slats. I am the nosey neighbor, straining to focus on talons. Hoping I don’t see a fledgling, but hearing the bird’s bell toll.
There’s a song in that, I think to myself.
Silver wakes unexpectedly, and the facade of solitude crumbles.
I’m so glad you’re awake, I missed you.