I've been thinking about the fragility of life lately. Or maybe I mean the absurdity. I've been thinking about it, but I feel unable to say anything about it. So I thought I would say some things that I've said before, when I had more words than I have right now.
In 2006, I wrote this for my daughter when she was nine months old; this was almost exactly 7 years ago. Cancer wasn't even a glimmer in my eye, though realistically, I probably had it already at that point:
by Katy Jacob
No one ever told you what lies beneath
the most beautiful days.
In the whole of your life
no one ever told you about the
heavy sharpness of white lace ice,
the glare in your eyes that you will miss after the melt,
the implied noise just before the branches crack,
the danger and perfection all mixed together.
Remember that I will always remember your tiny hand
curling up to a soft white leaf, which cracked and fell at your touch.
If I could, I’d give you this gift,
this day, a postcard you are too young to receive.
I’d vanish into you
so you could see how you smiled.
Almost two years ago, I wrote this for both of my kids. It's about winter. And other things. I had had cancer already at that point; I believed myself to be a 1.5 year "survivor," whatever that means, though it probably wasn't true.
Frozen Lakes, Explained
by Katy Jacob
We are going to walk out onto the lake.
We will not be the first ones.
There are people in that box, because that box is actually a house.
The people are not really small; they are just on the other side.
It is all a matter of perspective.
The house and the trucks weigh much more than you.
You will not fall in, even if you do fall over.
That’s right, I am making you a promise.
The snow is clean, so you can eat it.
The trees are beautiful, so you can try to run to them.
There are deer tracks; birds have walked here.
No, I don’t know why. I don’t know where they were going.
Do you understand what expansion means?
That is what is protecting you; the cold has made this playground.
This is something I had to wait more than thirty years to do.
This: the ice, the trees, the quiet, those men looking across at us,
the reminder of animals, the looks on your faces,
the way you let go and took off running,
the sound of your voices in the cold when you asked to come inside,
the curiosity that led you to ask for an explanation,
the fact that I didn’t want to tell you,
having waited for this, this moment when you no longer believed me
when I told you that some impossible things are actually possible.
You can run now where you might otherwise drown.
Trust me, trust all those who went before you:
those who knew that it would work, and those who didn’t,
but walked across the water anyway. Especially them.
And before I wrote either of those, I wrote this for my grandmother when she died. They say that life goes by in the blink of an eye, and that what's important is how you live in the blink.
For Marthagene, 12/20/19-7/7/06
by Katy Jacob
there are places
where only the eye
can find you--
or the dead--
as a moment
akin to a dance
to the longing
in the air
in the pause that follows
when grief defines
time dips back
and I see you again
standing in towns
small as specs
living in the blink