in the morning / by Christina Rosalie

There is golden light this morning and a dozen blue jays, plumage ruffled, in the lilac out the window. The walls are striped with shadows from the window panes, the trees outside, the angles of furniture illumined by the morning sun. I watch the way heat dances; sunlight revealing the shadows of the invisible. Waves of warmth rising, shimmering, lifting from the wood stove, where logs become embers, and across the clear valley ribbons of smoke lift from solitary houses. Above the sky is the color of robin’s eggs: pale, pale blue.

Snow dresses the world in magic when the sun shines. Frost makes fractal whorls on the glass panes of the windows in the garage, and snowflakes, each one spectacular and individual, glint and sparkle across the wide expanse of field where tracks crisscross, revealing other secrets: the paths of squirrels and foxes going at dusk to the stream.

Today the mercury is shy despite the sun, and breath catches sharp in our lungs and rises up in steamy clouds. Today the boys are home. The house is filled with their clatter, laughter, disagreements, and small storms. They leave behind a trail: marbles, blocks, honey, bread crusts, airplanes. They wear at my patience. They fill me with delight. They are, always and again a lesson in living right now. In shifting gears abruptly. In being here. Right here.

Some days it’s not where I want to be. Some days, like today, I feel myself longing for the unremarkable quiet of an empty house. Instead there are sticky fingers and boys still in pajamas. There is spilled cat food, and snow melting in puddles at the door, and boys who want the things that sustain them: attention and stories and be seen.

And so I do. I turn to Sprout who is climbing into the chair beside me, and press my face into his warm head. I get up from the table and carry my empty cup to the sink; gather things to make bread dough. Rinse my hands. Wipe the counters clear.

Together we will knead the bread and then place it in bowls in the sun. It will rise there all morning in the warmth, and then we’ll shape it into loaves, spreading it with cinnamon and sugar. I’ll let them lick their fingers and I’ll turn the oven light on. They’ll press their faces against the oven door and look. They’ll wait for the timer to ring and then eat slices of bread, fluffy and warm with melting butter for snack.

I’ll let this be the present: warm bread and sticky fingers and sun.