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Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Growing Thing

I am a growing thing.

Atoms and molecules and cells and mitochondria

proliferate even as they die.

Cells multiply, multiply,

divide, divide,

and matter does not die

but simply changes form to energy

so nothing is lost

for even that which dies—

or seems to die—

is simply changing form

becoming light,

which is to say the energy of the Universe.


I am a growing thing

and grow I will, like any tree,

expanding and cracking the bark of my skin

while inside the sap runs,

slowly, swiftly, powerfully,

from the tips of my spreading roots

to the tiny ends of my reaching branches.


I am a growing thing

until the moment

when my matter

no longer matters

and I join the energy of the Unseen.



Copyright 2013 Ann Tudor

Sunday, July 21, 2013

At the Water's Edge

I wasn't brought up with oceans. Not even with one ocean. Indiana is just about as far as you can get from a coast, so I have no experience with and a healthy fear of those oversized bathtubs with the incessant water motion: tide in, tide out, tide in again, now a neap tide—and always the restless waves driving in to shore.


Not an ocean but close is the Mediterranean. When we were in Menton, France, for three months years ago, we used to sit and read by a little cove. It was quite small and fairly packed with people: I remember two little boys playing at the water's edge, and heavy old women and men whose bronzed-leather skin did nothing to sweeten the sight of their massive folds of flesh spilling from bikinis and Speedos. The cove was rocky, not sandy. We readers scattered around the edges, perched on large, uncomfortable rocks, as we took the sun (this was mid-April of one of the coldest springs that area had seen in years).


The two little boys were quiet as they played, and the readers turned their pages stealthily, so nothing interrupted the sound of the water and the baseball-sized rocks that made up the shore. A wave came in quietly. Then, as it receded, the water jostled the smooth rocks and made them click together: chik-a-chik-a-chik-a-chik. It was a sound I had never heard before, and it became my favourite sound.


Two years ago I went to a beach in southern North Carolina. It was a large, week-long gathering of my children and grandchildren, orchestrated by their father and his other (newer) family. My children have much more experience with ocean waters than I do, and they love jumping waves and floating out beyond the breakers. Once I allowed as how I'd like to do that, too, I was escorted out, holding the hand of one of my grown-up children, and they taught me: "Here it comes, Mum. Jump it or duck under it—but do it! NOW!" And then, once beyond the scary part, I would float, my non-buoyant body supported by the salt water, and gaze at the blue sky. It was important to remember to remove hearing aids and glasses before approaching that water. The sea has no lost-and-found booth.



Copyright 2013 Ann Tudor

Sunday, July 14, 2013


I have not had a butterfly brain my entire life, of that I'm quite sure. It began . . . well, some little time ago, I can't tell you how long ago, precisely because I have a butterfly brain. But it's been cocooning for a while and is now emerging, full-blown and superbly colourful, to affect every aspect of my life.


Last week I was getting a head cold. Its onset was slow and subtle, and I wasn't always aware of it. I was standing beside the kitchen counter and I remembered (not for the first time) that I wanted to begin using my neti pot to forestall the cold.


I moved, for some forgotten purpose that was important at the time, the three steps across the kitchen to the sink. And there I thought: what was that idea I just had? For my mind was a complete blank. The term "neti pot" was gone, along with the entire thread that had led me to it. Often, when we forget something we can retrace our mind's steps, the inconsequential interior monologue that preceded and followed the forgotten idea. This did not happen. "Usual" it might have been once, but the blankness that filled my brain was telling me that a new normal was on its way.


We have all seen butterflies on the move. One wonders, watching their flight, how they ever make it down to Mexico for their winter vacation. Two wing-beats forward, two more off to the right, two up, two down, two backwards, then three forward. Net gain: six inches. We have to assume an evolutionary advantage to this flight pattern: by its unpredictable movements the butterfly obviously foils all predators. If a deer moved that way, no hunter would ever fell a deer!


For a butterfly, this erratic motion makes sense. But for a brain? For a brain it is less than efficient. My brain now, in this new normal, has the hint of an idea. But before I can even look at it, the brain has moved on—two wing-beats below, two wing-beats to the left—and I have no inkling at all what I was going to say.


Conversation often consists of slight, friendly interruptions, and in olden days that was fine. If an interruption disrupted my thought-line, I would just come back to it later. Now, however, an interruption means the destruction of any previous idea. It is gone forever. Not that that is a major loss to civilization, but I find it personally annoying. Not to mention terrifying.


In the particular case of the neti pot, here's what happened. My mind a blank, as I said, I then moved to the far side of the stove for some purpose, and from that position the words "neti pot" popped into my head. The blank brain had re-booted itself. I began reciting "neti pot, neti pot, neti pot" as I raced to the counter where this had all started, grabbed pen and paper, and printed out "neti pot" in bold letters.


Writing it down is the only answer.


Copyright 2013 Ann Tudor

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Beginning to End

I sit at the front window in my rocking chair. If I am reading, I see nothing that happens on our street. In fact, even when I sit facing the front steps and the stoop, I am unaware of a visitor standing at the door until she rings our (loud) doorbell.


So for me reading trumps paying attention. But I don't always read with such intensity. On some days I read a paragraph and then I raise my head and look out the window, where wonders await, even on our predictable, ordinary street.


For the past few months an elderly man has walked past our window every day with his caregiver. I call him, just to give him a name, Harold. He slowly pushes his walker along the sidewalk, his caregiver by his side. Occasionally he stops for a rest.


Half a block away from us, beside the subway entrance, is a small day-care. In good weather the teachers and aides take the little ones out for some air, and sometimes they walk along our street.


One day I looked up from my reading and saw life itself, from start to finish, before my eyes. On our side of the street were Harold and his helper, Harold leaning on the walker as he took a break from his exercise. On the other side of the street, headed in the opposite direction, was the day-care parade: four super-sized strollers, each holding three or four little ones (under 18 months), bundled up to the eyeballs in winter clothing. Each day-care aide pushed a giant stroller and at the same time tended to a few ambulatory older children, who clutched the hem of the aide's jacket as she used both hands to push the heavy stroller. When this long group was just opposite my window they too stopped to rearrange or reorganize the babies.


So there before my eyes were the end of life and the start of life, both groups supported by wheels. Harold and his helper, taking a breather, watched the little ones, but the little ones took no notice of Harold, focused as they were on their own needs and their immediate surroundings. Nor did their caregivers see him, for they were too busy to see anything but their charges.


Only I, with my little eye, could spy both groups at once and take note of their superficial similarities and their equally superficial differences. Just two points along the continuum of life.



Copyright 2013 Ann Tudor