On Yoolis Night by Jan Priddy

December 25, 2014 § 3 Comments


Another Brevity Holiday Smile:

jesusThe mail brought a small package from Toni, a card from a high school friend of Gary’s, the Netflix movie that I hoped Gary and I might watch this evening because it has associations from early in our relationship.  The west windows here are streaming rain and the wind has come up again, but no ice, no remaining hint of snow.  East of us is another story.  Each of us is another story.  

Our sons won’t make it here for Christmas.  So we are looking for ways to feel good about the holiday with only ourselves.  It will be warm and pretty—the woodstove keeps the house toasty and the tree has twinkling lights and new rosebud garlands as it did many years ago.  I strung the garlands in the evenings after Thanksgiving weekend and put each strand on the tree as I completed it.  At dusk I’ll light the candles.

For the first time in decades I have a loom in the house, a warp on it, and work.  I was surprised that I remembered how to wind a warp and dress a loom.  More surprising was how quickly I found the old rhythm, working steadily and completing a scarf this morning.  My feet found the treadles and I passed the shuttles back and forth, hardly thinking about what I was doing except to admire the emerging cloth.  There is enough warp for two scarves and as soon as I finished the one I began yesterday I began another.

So, this morning I wove, then put on music, then drove six miles to Cannon Beach to get the mail.  I drove around to the seafood store and as I walked toward the street corner to cross I saw a dark purple Civic pass before me, driving south.  Exactly like my mother’s old car that Gary drives now.  The woman in the car was short and wore her white hair as my mother did about ten years ago. She wore my mother’s red plaid jacket and one of my mother’s expressions on her face—the upper lip lifted in confusion, as if she were lost and didn’t know where she meant to go.  At the corner I crossed, turning to watch the Honda continue.  She looked so much like my mother, I’d have called out to her, but good sense prevailed.  

She can’t be driving her car home, she’s dead.  But I watched the purple Honda heading south on Spruce and stop at the foot of the hill where most cars take the free right.  She stopped.  I thought, if she heads up the hill toward her old house I will have to cry.  The car did not turn on its blinker for the right turn and still stopped at the corner—no need to stop unless you mean to go straight up the hill.  Finally, it crept forward and turned.

I bought crab meat at the seafood store, wished the owner Merry Christmas, though I don’t know her, only the former students who often work there in the holidays.  On the drive home I looked at the tangled blackberry vines, the blowing pines, felt the crackle of gravel under the tires, Odetta asking Mary what she was going to name her pretty little baby.  The world is so rich and tangled up with beauty and inexplicable meaning, patterns I can’t possibly weave on my loom.  It is a wonder.  It is easy to think that something smarter, wiser, more purposeful than myself is in charge and understands it all.

Slow down.  Slow down.  Slow and slow.  I like to remind my students that the sun comes up beautifully every day, whether we notice or not.  I will notice.

Beyond the west windows, where the rain has eased and cleared my view, the ocean roils in silvered green and white foam.  And the Anonymous 4 sing chant from nearly a thousand years ago, honoring a woman who gave birth to hope.

What a newborn baby dreams is a mystery.

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Jan Priddy‘s work has earned an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship, Arts & Letters fellowship, Soapstone residency, Pushcart nomination, and publication in journals such as The MacGuffin, CALYX, Work Magazine, Raven Chronicles, Ink Filled Page, The Humanist, and North American Review. She is an MFA graduate from Pacific University and lives and teaches in the NW corner of her home state of Oregon.

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