We were born to laugh, and we know how to be sad;
we dislike injustice and cancer,
and are not unaware of our terrible errors.
— from “Ode to the Unbroken World” by Thomas Lux
Dawn is just creeping over the farm here. The sky has turned the indigo I think of as the color of my voice, and the porch light – on since I took Mosey out a bit ago – has gone golden, as if calling in the sun.
I am studying the corbels that someone has added to the corners between the post and the porch roof. They are distinctly Victorian, curled and cued, and are not original to this early 19th century house. Still, I like them because they look like faces in profile.
These faces remind me of fairies – hard-edged fairies, Puck from Shakespeare’s wood – their heads adorned with wreathes of hay and raspberry briars.
I believe in magic, but sometimes I forget I do. I get so bogged down in the broken, or I let myself be buried instead of lifted by the quotidian that I begin to think that this is all. I forget the fairy faces.
This past weekend, when we were preparing our field to add a barn, we dug up pieces of earthenware – the red of the clay around it almost with a dark brown swirl or a glazed blue stripe. I am not a material culture expert, and so these pots could have been broken in 1985 on a night so thick with summer that the only thing that could be done was to catch lightning bugs. Or maybe Judith, the woman in the house, dropped it as she walked across the field one day, her belly tight with labor. I cannot date these shards.
Yet, I can hold them, taste them – as I do all older things – and let their stories seep into my blood, streaming through the physicality that I am.
This weekend, too, we found that our chickens have been tucking their eggs away again, laying them in the clean-out for the old three-seater outhouse, where I have to kneel down in poo and mud to grab them. Or dropping them, unbroken, from a cross-beam at the side of the coop. Or tucking them carefully in the pine straw beneath their roost.
Sometimes, when I pick them up, they are still warm, offerings from the very center of our birds. I hold them gently as I wash them with vinegar, and then I cradle them away myself, magic in a carton.
Just now, the sky has turned the slate gray of winter ocean, and I must soon don shoes and my grandfather’s flannel to go greet the chickens – Good Morning, Every Birdy, I say each day – and call in the goats with a bleat that must sound nothing like I intend but yet must sound like home to the girls. I’ll watch the Great Pyrs bounce and play in their pasture, and Jelly Roll and Sabeen, our cats, will come in to eat the dogs’ food.
All the while, the fairy faces will watch east and west for us, and Judith will stand at the upstairs window, her shadow glinting like promise on the dawn.
Magic. Magic indeed.