By Nola Garrett
Advent is a penitential season. It’s a dark time for getting ready, a time for repair. It’s that last, slow, ungainly month of pregnancy. Daylight is brief, especially this year in downtown Pittsburgh when it’s been cloud-ridden and drizzly nearly every day. My immediate family is in such disarray of various sorts that other than attending a Christmas morning church service, I’m spending the day blessedly alone in my condo. I’ve been assembling a new poetry manuscript and letting myself read kindle novels with little redeeming social or literary worth. Pretty much, I’m in the midst of doing as little as I can to steel myself for yet another Christmas. I know all this sounds bleak, but it’s not.
Last Saturday, I visited my son who a few weeks ago has finally chosen to enter a six month residential alcohol rehab facility. I’m filled with guarded hope.
It’s been more than a year since my last pair of new glasses, and lately I’ve noticed that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been diluting its ink again…. Yesterday, I walked to Visionworks for an eye exam where I was warmly greeted by the young woman technician whom I had worked with last year. Already, she’d chosen some frames that she thought I might like, and she was right. But, even more interesting was that the Visionworks folks have a new, eyeball-shaped machine that photographs retinas, which means I didn’t have to deal with the after effects of those eye drops that blur one’s sight for hours afterward.
While I was assembling my manuscript, I discovered/noticed three poems that didn’t fit, but could form the nucleus of another collection. Perhaps a chapbook?
This morning I measured the height of the first blossom on my red amaryllis: twenty and one half inches. All this growth and beauty with so little sun!
Later this week or next, I am going to Home Depot to choose pale pink paint for the eight by eight foot walk-in closet that used to be my former husband’s. I’ve already bought a small oval chandelier to replace the pull chain, porcelain, work light currently lurking in there. And, I’ve ordered a small, faux oriental rug for the floor.
Lastly, I’ve pulled from the bookshelf my autographed copy of Nancy Willard’s Water Walker to reread one of my all time favorite poems: “A Hardware Store as Proof of the Existence of God.” As Robert Frost would say, You come, too…
I praise the brightness of hammers pointing east
like the steel woodpeckers of the future,
and dozens of hinges opening brass wings,
and six new rakes shyly fanning their toes,
and bins of hooks glittering into bees,
and a rack of wrenches like the long bones of horses,
and mailboxes sowing rows of silver chapels,
and a company of plungers waiting for God
to claim their thin legs in their big shoes
and put them on and walk away laughing.
In a world not perfect but not bad either
let there be glue, glaze, gum and grabs,
caulk also, and hooks, shackles, cables, slips,
and signs so spare a child may read them,
Men, Women, In, Out, No Parking, Beware the Dog.
In the right hands they can work wonders.
In the midst of so much glorious repair, how could Nancy Willard have left out the transforming power of fresh paint?