“How many times”, I thought as I pushed the shovel into the hard soil of my dahlia garden, “do I have to dig up these memories”. “How many times”, I thought as I tuned the soil, dropping it from my shovel back into the garden, “do I have to relive these old stories”.
The memories come in the silence of the repetitive work. The stories, a wearing song that instead of soothing the physical labor, make it worse.
I’ve been drawn to do it, sweating out the stories, trying to understand why those in particular have stayed with me, as if there’s meaning in them I haven’t yet gleaned.
But the repetition becomes a dirge, a whine, that seeps in, settles, like slow poison.
I struggle to relax, to let go. What could be simpler than to do nothing.
I think of the Mary Oliver’s poem, “Flare”
“I bury it in the earth.
I sweep the closets.
I leave the house.
I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.
It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.
I give them-one, two, three, four-the kiss of courtesy,
of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.
But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them responsibility for my life.”