Among the days which scatter across the week, I keep going back to an image in my head. Not sure if it is from a dream in the night or from a daydream. I see your hands, pushing down, you burying them into fresh, damp dirt. Right behind my eyes, there you are, my daughter. Knees firmly planted on the warming ground, the soil giving up its cold.
It has been a warm winter, the snow rare, hardly here. Outside, the sun’s eyes wide and watching, every minute warmer than the last, I think of worshiping the sunlight like an ancient ancestor.
I open the back screen door, step onto the porch, listening to its creak. Listening to you in the yard, racing along the farm, the soil, hearing you. The beagle always with you, just behind, teeth nipping at your heels. Your short, blond curls bounce atop your head, you roar, now chasing the dog.
Here, in my mind, is the image again. You kneel in the tilled dirt, plunging your palms into it. It is you I see, but I can feel the soil. Cool and falling through your fingers as you lift your small hands. Your dress, blue and white, shaped around your barely-there frame, I imagine you move the dirt, preparing it for something, some seeds that will take you away from me.
A breeze blows across the farmland, swaying the trees in the distance, I am brought back to where I am, whisked out of my head.
Benny! you shout into the Spring wind. Because it is Spring holding onto to the tail of the gust.
Warmer with each silently ticking minute. A warm winter we had.
The door opens behind me, your father joining me on the porch. He places his hand on my back, says, Think it’s going to hit 70 today. Yes, ma’am.
Another gust, Spring still holding on. Like a tail on a kite.
Warm winter, mum, he says.
Running along the mounds of dirt, where pumpkins will grow, you call to your beagle. Benny! Run, ‘cause I’m comin’ for ya!
You grow older, taller, smarter every day, you grow with the warmth of Spring and Summer. You turn and stop, seeing us where we stand on the porch. You wave to us and yell, triumphantly. The beagle leaps up and down, yipping with you.
I worry about losing you, knowing that someday you will plant those seeds that will take you away. Your hands covered in fertile soil.
I shudder. Your father thinks I’m cold. He puts his arm around my shoulders, pulls me closer.
It’s a warm winter, he says, and here you are shivering.
From the soil, your voice shouts wildly into the sky, and I think you could be worshiping the sun.