There is a pile of magazines on her table--O, Real Simple, Martha Stewart's Living, the latest issues of People and Entertainment Weekly. Spread out before her is a wide variety of poetry books--Neruda, Lorca, Jimenez, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov. She's hungry for the words, captivated by the way they drip like candle wax then form a waxy puddle on the coffee table. She wants to know their secrets and fully believes that God dwells in each space and letter. She wants to bury herself beneath them the way her sister used to bury her under the warm grainy sand every summer at the beach. And when the longing, the intensity, becomes too much she has to catch her breath by flipping open one of the magazines, loosing herself in the latest Hollywood gossip. She'll distance herself from her hunger with the latest news on the craziness of Tom Cruise and all the happenings of Jen and Vince. She'll turn to the things that don't matter in order to momentarily let go of all the things that do.
She doesn't know I'm watching her, studying her movements and her stillness. Her lips move slightly when she reads, a light whisper that brings each word to life in the same way a gentle breeze breathes life into the wind chimes hanging on the back porch. If she can't hear the poet's voice she'll listen to her own. She'll imagine she's reading before a crowd of people as hungry for the mysteries of the lines as she is. She'll give them each word with the same force or tenderness she imagines the poet intended. After reading several poems, turning each page with an eager anticipation I can see in her eyes, she sets the book down and picks up her cup. Hot tea, the steam rising from the top, offers her a moment to think, contemplate. She wraps her hands around the cup, her fingers interlacing where they meet in the back. She makes several gentle blows then sips slowly, carefully. She stares into space as if the poet's deepest intentions and hidden meanings are hanging in the sky and no one else can see them but her.
I wonder if she knows she's beautiful. I wonder if she walks with her head held high and just the slightest, sexiest swing in her hips. I wonder if she looks in the mirror and winks at her reflection. I wonder if she knows how inviting her smile can be and that there are people who would give anything to sit beside her in her stillness. I wonder if she knows there are eyes that look at her and then feel whole.
I wonder if there is a man waiting for her at home, a man who lies beside her at night and memorizes her body while she sleeps--the one freckle on her belly, the scar on her left knee, the small mole on her left jaw bone. I wonder if he's memorized the exact way her legs feel when they're wrapped around his waist and the way her fingers interlace with his. Her taste. Her smell. I wonder if he sits at work and slips away into the memory of her lips on his neck and her moans in his ear. I wonder if she realizes he makes up silly excuses just to touch her, just to feel his heart break open when he places his hand on the small of her back. I wonder if she makes him look into her eyes when she tells him she loves him. I wonder if she knows he sometimes doubts that he deserves her but never doubts the ways in which she's saved him.
I wonder if there are children who have slept at her breast. I wonder if they sleep under paper lanterns and dream about magic places that smell like cotton candy. I wonder if she kisses their toes and presses her nose into their cheeks. I wonder if they tiptoe to her bedside after a bad dream and beg for her kisses when they skin their knees. I wonder if she builds forts and cuddles them while they watch James and the Giant Peach. I wonder if she reads them Dr. Seuss books and Shel Silverstein's poetry. I wonder if she has a special place where she tucks away their shoes and toys when they've outgrown them. I wonder if she has so many dreams for them but holds back, wanting them to find their own.
I wonder if all the love that pushes against the walls of her heart spills out and pours over the people around her. I wonder if everyday she wakes up and chooses to keep her heart open despite the times she's felt hurt and betrayed. I wonder if her open heart holds all the promises of God. I wonder if she takes the world in her arms and hugs it to her chest. I wonder if she cries at sappy commercials and during episodes of Extreme Home Makeover. I wonder if there are things she holds back and keeps only for herself. I wonder if she fights her fears in order to stay present and if she knows she's bigger than all her fears. I wonder if she believes everything she needs for life is right there, right in her soul. I wonder if she knows her vulnerability is her strength and her willingness is all the courage she'll ever need. I wonder if she realizes there's a light within her the world hungers for and that not everyone holds that light. I wonder if she knows she's glowing.
I watch her take one last sip before picking her book back up and I wonder about her life and how much she looks just like me.