And here’s the new edge I walk up to, new stance to counter the impatient, first one. I’m trailing it, picking through marshes and dunes. It comes forth in this way, by recalling the lighthouse at Cape May Point, New Jersey. The 275 stairs inside are steep and twisting and once you start climbing, you can’t turn back, it’s too narrow and there are others behind you. In the heat, the scent of iron lifts, scent of all who have rested cheeks, laid foreheads against the burnished handrail, wishing it into a better one, a familiar one along the boardwalk (there, far below on the beach they can’t see, leaning as they are against this one, praising its steadiness, hoping it will go on reliably holding).
Last year, after climbing to the top, I couldn’t make myself step through the door and onto the walk. Things break. All the time. Unhinge and unbolt. Hairline-crack. Salt air scours and pocks and gnaws-down. Hail full-throttles. Sun dries to dust all it touches.
Why must I consider this, daily?
This summer, though, I stepped right out with my son and walked evenly all the way around. I did not look straight down, but neither did I focus on my safe and near cuticles, wrist, wrist hairs, jacket zipper. I walked out and caught the wind, full in the face. No back to the wall, no inching and praying. Last year, I couldn’t bear to see my son out there, but torn, wanting to encourage bravery, I said nothing and stayed inside and got busy reading a plaque so he might go freely around holding his father’s hand, happy in the fierce wind.
But this year—just fine. I don’t know why. Except that I’ve let go of a lot recently. I think it’s made me lighter—which might have meant more easily dizzied, more easily lifted and blown away. But instead I got one of those good, solid paradoxes, one you can hold and gaze at, like the-emptying-that-fills, and feel more certain for it.
And here, my first stance, the ungenerous one, mingy and full of judgment gives way. Releases. So I might imagine things differently: that he wanted to fly; she was eager to change, not mince through her days; he followed a spoor hopefully, silently—as I have, spoors of thought, wily ones, supple and leading away, leading to all kinds of precipitous points; she wanted to slip the foundering pace of routine; that which overcast him he was ready to shed, or to drop through and be cleansed of; she meant to restore all that was gnawn, festering, impacted and let regret go, into the soft and aureate breeze.