I lay here in bed on a beautiful sunny day, counting the throbs of my head against my pillow. It smells clean, like it had been bleached and dried in the sun on the line. The sliding glass door reflects spots of sunlight on the knotty cedar walls and a soft breeze saves my burning sweaty body from this August heat. Oh but it still feels better to pull the hand-stitched quilt over my thin cotton nightgown. It’s faded and fringing along some of these tiny seams. I can put my finger through a small one-inch square of pale blue calico fabric. I think my Aunt Ollie stitched up this quilt with my mom, probably when Mom was my age. Little.
My eyes ache when I try to look outside to the field of prairie flowers and apple-loaded trees along side Dad’s garden. But what I really want to watch is the forest at the back of the property. Are hawks or eagles soaring above the treetops and diving down for mice? Or could I spot an owl today? Will the reds and yellows and oranges of fall start to glow from the maples, birch, and oaks? Have the milkweed pods in the field busted open yet? Sending their cotton-topped seeds out with the breeze? My fever won’t allow me to observe these things. My stomach rumbles with the mild anger that sickness steals some of the easiest quiet daily joy out of this day. So I stare at the wall. When I close my eyes to sleep I spin, so I must stare at the wall and connect the knots in the wood to each other. The reddish brown cedar smiles at me, and graces my nose with its sweet scent. I can’t lay still here just smelling cedar and connecting knots on the wall, listening to wild canaries and chickadees laugh at the squirrels, no doubt trying to steal seed from Dad’s feeders below my bedroom deck.
I hear Mom’s mixer downstairs and her singing. Of course she continues to bake her sourdough bread on a hot August day, and my sister probably sits neatly at the kitchen table, dutifully braiding and coiling dough while Mom sings to the canaries through her geranium-crowded kitchen sink window.
But I lay here upstairs, staring at cedar knots and receiving the breeze like angel’s breath, no, my guardian angel I think. She wants me to be free from this illness and out catching frogs and snakes in the back forty. I agree with her. I would be so much better off following monarchs from Queen’s Anne’s lace to Goldenrod to Thistle to Milkweed. I will follow the butterfly to the woods, where I can climb over felled trees and look under rocks for slugs. But oh how the nausea rises when I imagine myself running and skipping through the trails. I must think calm thoughts in this antique iron bed, connecting cedar knots and breathing in the breeze like it’s magic.
Thin white transparent cotton curtains wave to me from the windows and screened sliding glass door. I can’t tell if that’s nice or cruel. It hurts watching them. And the floor, this short old dark green mottled carpeting, oh it makes me dizzy. But my doll and Benji dog toy fell down there, almost under my bed. Forget them. They can just stay there with my dog paw slippers and the naked Malibu Barbie with a punky shaved head I colored with red and blue chalk.
The knots, why are they moving? Why, those knots are haunting eyes, and the grains of the wood below them are mouthing something to me. I can’t make out what it is, those wooden lips just move up and down and up and down. Oh my head hurts. The sun seems so large and bright, and I hear the cicadas buzz out the weather report. Its hot. Whenever the cicadas sing it’s hot. And I want to catch them and line them up on the deck outside my bedroom, right over there by the empty flower pot, I could line up the cicada army and pretend they are going to conquer the spiders that keep spinning webs outside my windows. These webs billow like shiny transparent sails now and I feel bad but I want the spiders to fall off their webs and through the cracks of the deck floor to the deck below, and then maybe a bird will snatch them up and eat those fat spiders.
If only I could just go outside and play in my beautiful back yard. I hate laying here. But I like the cedar walls. I think I can make out a dragon over there. Oh breeze, take me outside.