Sky Blues

Dave Smith

Summer hangs on, a Kennesaw Mountain-ish battle to save the season before the chill burns of winter cold collapse around me.  Trees flame a bit more dully now with leaves a crinkle in their winded wiggles and a stepped-on crunch accompanying strides across lawns.  The pines remain bold despite beginnings of droop to house creatures seeking safe haven in the months ahead.  Many times I have crawled beneath snow-laden boughs to escape winds and whirled snow whip-creaming surroundings.  This day only the boldest of wee wisps of clouds dare reconnaissance across the glass smooth blue.  A little breeze tickles, a teasy chill now and again saying, “Just wait.  This is all going to change brother!”  The neighbor, draped in a robe and barefoot, sits in her lawn chair. Happily a-gab on a cellphone she laughs and complains, oblivious to the outdoor living room serving as a party line of old.  Dogs yap, a feral cat scurries slink low towards the ravine, and crows cry “It’s coming.  The cold is coming” on deaf ears.  Honks of V’d geese seem the only truth today, two black columns in full retreat.

The blues sit on me.  Told to expect that post-stroke, I still find their insistence difficult to shake.  A Smokey Mountains’ haze seems to hang on my brain, a foggy-eyed curtain denying clarity and building walls of resistance to the doctors’ truths.  “Six months to a year and we’ll know where we’re at Dave.”  I am accustomed to 6 days to a couple weeks and patience sitting atop a lot of uneasiness doesn’t exactly make a tasty dessert to pass time.  Handwriting wiring frayed, missteps, and a mouth that fails to remain in contact with thoughts bring aggravations and retreats to “better off being alone.”  Self-conscious about what most don’t even notice, I become more furtive, though in recent years I have not really been a social butterfly by any stretch of my thinks.

And now I laugh.  What?  As if an invisible hand squeezes ‘that spot’ just above the knee and rubs my ribs into a guffaw.  No, not a laughter visible to the world, but deep in the soul of me.  And a persistent think.  “What in the world do I have to be all bluesy about?  Look at this day, at the extension of reds and oranges, at the broad sheet of blue flannel spreading across still green yards and drying cornfields.  Just notice – notice….”

Yes, I did forget that today.  Brother Neil would be shaking his head at my whines, he so long on dialysis, battling heart disease and coping with a replacement valve that held a staph infection.  For years he never let the blues talk, always had the wise remark of greeting – “Here’s the five I owe you” and a black and blue hand stuck my way.  He watched Brewer games on TV, his Alzheimer’s creating the illusion the park was outside his picture window.  He would on occasion go out to tell players they earned too much money to play that poorly.  And he was happy in the world God gave him.  My blues retreat quickly now.  They know entrenchment cannot happen here.  A Holy Spirit resides in this place, on this raspy grass of a front yard, behind the maple and its arm-y stretch brushing across the daylight.    I know God’s grace, blessedly reminded by the Beetle beep of Penelope’s VW pulling to the curb.

I shake the tired from typing, the little cramp that comes to say, “Time to wrap it up – this think is thinked.”


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