Patio Chair Blues — Dave Smith

A cardinal appears, a flutter-grip land on the patio rail.  I remain still, unnoticed by my brownish-turning-brilliant-red feathered guest.  His throat vibrates into a call, a pause, another, and another pause.  Then quiet, head twisting side to side, alone on the rail, hoping for response.  I slowly turn to watch a squirrel, tail bushed and at scamper across the yellowish-brown grass to the swing set, then under the slide.  He pokes out with tail-twitched caution into the open once again.  He “chit-chit-chit-chirrups”, hops in a tight circle, looking…then dashes to Greg’s fence line.  Up, over, down and fur-blur duck under the cedar.  He hunkers down, head just visible, black eyes looking, hoping…The cardinal sees my movements, puffs feathers in pre-check for flight, then “schwitt-schewws” farewell in flight to the tall pine top on the lot line.  So, I again sit alone, my chair strategically placed in full sun allowing warm enjoyment. The northeast breeze tries a wind-chill invasion, but to little avail.  I stretch my legs, hands clasped behind my head and my brain settling into a think.  I watch, alone.  I think of the Ancient Mariner and his “Alone, alone, all all alone, alone on the wide, wide sea…” And I again know the blues.

I don’t have a song to twill, a cedar to scent my think, a lofty pine on which to perch to see a wide sea of homes and people and cars and motion.  Just me and the chair, the rough pine of the deck under bare feet, grey-white hair under clasped hands. A sharper gust chills as a small cloud, a greyish-white umbrella, hides sunshine.  The blues, and yet I see not a cloud, but an umbrella passing, the sun peeking, then emerging…and an everywhere of imagining sits with my thinks. The sorry for self and poor pity me hurriedly leave.  My mind’s eye finds fresh pine distilling the muck of dying winter – finds the mad songs of birds bursting in new color, in renewed vigor in the back-and-forth repetition of nest building.  A blink creates blue heron and sandhill crane, a twist left and right generates red tulips and delicate daffodils, and moving my feet allows the squish of beach sand at Cocoa Pier.  No, the blues can only slip past in this cacophonied commotion of fantasy.

From some deeper cavern of my mind, a poem springs, words from Henry van Dyke entitled “Four Things”:

Four things a man must learn to do

If he would make his record true:

To think without confusion clearly;

To love his fellow-men sincerely;

To act from honest motives purely;

To trust in God and Heaven securely.

Sunday – Easter Sunday.  Absolute joy presents itself in a risen savior, in a new forgiveness, a new covenant with our Lord.  Edward Rowland Sill’s poem “Life” winks its truth at me:

Forenoon and afternoon and night, – forenoon,

And afternoon, and night, – forenoon, and — what!

The empty song repeats itself.  No more?

Yea, that is Life; make this forenoon sublime,

This afternoon a psalm, this night a prayer,

And time is conquered, and thy crown is won.

Easter has no room for the blues.  The lily’s scent brings the song of new life.  The tomb is empty.  The hunker of sin and its black-eyed seek defeated.  Death cannot be proud.  Jesus conquered it and opened the door to new life in faith.

I stand as the imaginings slip away, the thinks fade.  A deep inhale, a call of keyboard, and that squirrel, cheeks now stuffed with the whatever’s found under the cedar, touch my soul.  Assurance, that blue blanket of Easter morning … Thank you God.