She says, anxiously, “Are you sure you don’t want
to just walk in the basement?” A stifling thought.
“Well, stay on the main road. It’s dangerous out there.”
I am going for a run, but not really a run, more of a walk
with brief periods of jogging as I try to train
my body to actually run someday. I should be capable
of more than I am, and to do that, I have to push myself.
It helps that there are zombies chasing me; the podcast
is entertaining and the drudgery of self-improvement
made easier. But she is right in one thing — it’s dangerous
out here — a blind curve just past my parents’ house
where cars whip around could take me out — splat! —
in an instant, leaving my children motherless.
I try running on the grass, footing unsteady, then
finally give in and take to side roads with less traffic,
heedless of my mother’s advice. She is right to be afraid,
but she is afraid of the wrong things.
Eventually I end up down at the creek
behind their house, the one we weren’t supposed to visit,
the one we went to all the time. I’m not sure what she thought
would happen. (A girl was raped in the woods, supposedly,
but I am not sure that actually happened, and regardless,
is that enough reason to deprive yourself of branches, rocks,
picking your way through skunk cabbages melting snow,
the motion of light on water?)
I sit on a fallen log a long time, phone out,
talking to my husband, not quite fighting,
arguing him into my position, spilling all my anxieties into
the waving moss under ripples of water, sun soaking
into my shoulders, loosening tense muscles.
Finally, just sitting, dissolving for an endless instant,
wondering how to schedule time for dissolving
into my day, into the lives of my children,
so that they might know, in their bones, that when life is hard —
take to the woods, leave the main road,
the broad, well-travelled path is
not actually the safest; there are dangers
you could never have anticipated there,
and wind and water and sun will rescue you
when you think you are irretrievably lost.