SUSAN CLARKSON MOORHEAD
Once my husband remarked how the sky opens like a gift as you turn off Weaver onto Quaker Ridge. Now every time I make that turn I think of that. And about the farm that was once there, an actual working small farm with fields where a fancy market and Condos now stand. We'd go in summer in my mother's little red car to buy tomatoes still warm from the field, strawberries for shortcake, and corn that I never wanted to eat because sometimes while shucking I would find tiny little worms and my mother, a farm girl's daughter, would say nonsense and she'd just cut out the wormy parts and insist the corn was fine.
Take a right off Quaker Ridge down a sloping curve past a wooded area where once I saw a wild turkey take flight into a stand of trees. I pulled the car over, something mythic and holy about the moment, cars hurtling past me rushing home as dusk began striping the sky in indigo, rose, and gold. Once my daughter was sad and I told her to get in the car and we drove random streets for nearly an hour as I played Nick Drake's song Pink Moon over and over because it was a pink moon that night. We saw a fox and I turned the car around to follow it up a dark road and we stopped when it stopped, staring at us from a tangle of bushes, rust colored fur, defiant eyes. We let it be and drove on under the pink moon.
Tonight the trees are black against a peach sky and I am rushing home because the dog does not like to be in the dark and no one remembered to leave a light on. Once my oldest son played in these woods using sticks for swords and their bikes for horses, coming back exhilarated, scraped and bruised, and deaf to my declaring someone would lose an eye. Once my daughter told me her friends claimed the woods were haunted, how none of them would go in them after dusk. I later joked to a friend that it must have been a rumor started by coyotes to keep the kids away.
So many things have happened that my mind could turn to, keening times of despair, difficult times we stumbled through, fears about the unknown future, and yet driving I see the peach of the sky and think about my children and wild geese and pink moons, and how I am mostly like that, one who notices the color of the sky, and I am so grateful for it.
Once by these woods I drive past, very late at night, I pulled my car over to the side and wrote a poem about magic, and hot soup, and keeping the wild things at bay. Even as I wrote it, I felt the press of something against the windows of my car and I kept glancing up, feeling both fearful and foolish. It's easy to believe in anything when you're sitting in a dark car by even darker woods writing a poem by the glow of a streetlight. So I wished peace to whatever might be there and kept on writing because words on paper are angels enough to guide a lost soul through whatever forest they might find themselves in, and lead them home.