A Good Moment

Once in the winter hills outside Portland Oregon, I sat on a stump in the snow, black brimmed hat shading my face, my hand cupping birdseed.

I wanted to see if I could get a bird to come to my hand.
I wanted to know how it felt.

The first day I waited with my hand out. Waited and waited and looked around without turning my head. But nothing came. I waited but nothing came.

The second day I sat on the stump with the seeds in my hand and waited again. I waited until I forgot I was waiting. My body became an old oak tree, my arms bent and hanging low. I closed my eyes, my breathing slowed and became as even and calm as the midnight air. I waited until I forgot how to move. I waited until I could accept whatever happened or didn’t happen.

I could hear chickadees near my feet and in the nearby birch trees. But I didn’t look. I had forgotten how to open my eyes. My body had become an object, a doorknob, a window, a cup with nothing inside but possibility.

And then I felt it.  The small toes of a bird on my thumb. I didn’t dare look. I felt a prick in my palm as it took a seed and flew away.

Still I waited. I remembered how to smile. I remembered what elation was. But I waited. Another bird came and hooked itself on my pointer finger. My eye lids split enough to see it was a nuthatch. It stayed a while. Eyed the seeds as if choosing the better one. I remembered how to contain joy and celebration, peace and gratitude within the bounds of my skin. And still I didn’t move. I didn’t dare move. Even after the birds had finished with my offering and the snow was silent and there was nothing left to do.

Still I didn’t move. I was happy for once. Simple and happy.

As I am tonight, standing in the bathroom, unwilling to clean off the lipstick and mascara, afraid the moment will pass and never come back the same again.

self portrait_22

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