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It was the way the light fell
that held my attention that spring morning —
it seemed to stop time —
as if the ray of sunlight, falling on mommy
where she sat on the stump outside the back door,
held everything at bay.
Maybe it was the way she was so still in the light
not looking at me, or at anything in particular —
the way the tiny bits of dust
were illuminated around her —
like she was in a snow globe that had been shaken,
then somehow, frozen in time.
It made me want to be as still as she was,
to be in the same light —
that seemed to make a pool of safety
in the total shade of the oak trees.
She looked different in it — she was there,
but somewhere else —
she was a stranger — a mysterious woman
who would not yield her secrets.
It was the light that I thought would
reveal those secrets to me.
So when she had gone, I sat there imagining
what she might have been thinking.
She would sit there often after that —
then, when she didn't come out as much,
I would sit on that stump, imagining....
Then we suddenly had to leave that house
on top of the hill — with the trees, the orchards,
the field of gladiolas, the woods,
and the ancient vineyard-that all now
remain suspended in the light of a frozen
snow globe — so much brighter
than everything that came after.