When the electricity in the air stole that which sizzled through the power lines, they burned two dozen candles to chase the darkness away. Wind howled down the chimney as woodsmoke and sparks flew up and away. Outside, the water, frozen, half-frozen, careened from the clouds. Gathered, mob–like, at the windows and the doors. Night lasted forever.
She and the boy drank milk mixed with honey, cinnamon, and ginger, coaxed to warmth on top of the wood stove. Although the Christmas tree had been abandoned to a corner of the yard, the edge of the wilderness, weeks before, the smell of evergreen remained in the weft of the curtains, in the furniture, in the needles that had slipped between the floorboards and into corners, evading the broom and gathering in hidden places.
She and Orryn and Michael built vast cities in the living room, farming estates, towers to the sun. They crafted Bedouin tents of quilts and pillows, caves of softness and shadows and eternal evening.
With restless hands and a tongue she bit too often against the wildness of a trapped trickster, she stitched and stitched at a woolen blanket for the baby to come. Her fingers were hurried birds, her needles tapping time, the finished work pooled around her, warming her distant toes and her billowing belly.
Her paints and brushes lay cold in the guest room. There was no space for that energy in a room already so crowded.
Orryn played and sang, spinning music through the dimness, drinking endless pots of grassy green tea. His fingers calloused over completely, firm as river stones, as she learned when they slipped beneath her sweater to find her heat. His beard looked as though it were doubling in size each day, threatening too absorb small items that came too near—pens, mandolin picks, playing cards, building blocks—and he kept bellowing out verses of English literature he had memorized a lifetime ago.
Mice crept in at the edges, seeking sanctuary. Then squirrels. Cardinals. Blue jays. The woodpecker they hated. The gulls that annoyed. The crows. They all endeavored to follow, but they wouldn’t allow it. They battened down the hatches, filled in the gaps. She spied through the kitchen window as the creatures sought refuge instead in the garden shed. In the spring, Orryn would find a sea of feces and feathers there