I can talk about how my mother surrendered me. Although a newborn, I knew. It mattered. That she held me for nine months, and might not have remembered, in her arms for a brief hello, I know. I remember.
At six, I learned my parents were not the ones. A deep flood of fear and questions arose. Would there, could there be another separation, any other separation? I feared what new separation could—no--would bring.
Worry haunted me into my 20s and 30s. Inevitable, cruel separation, fear of final separation. There would be, and it would be my doing, my fault. The panic of ultimate loss—loss of self.
Wasn’t the mother cruel? Did her cruel destiny destine me to repeat her cruelty? Like my genetic father, whom I never knew, my Dad was a military man, and was away from me and Mom for a week, two weeks, months. More than once away for a year, so much time in awayness, in separation. I formed identity through loss without a living person to look in the eye or in the mirror to recognize, until this daughter bore a daughter. Until long search found my elderly birth-mother and birth-right of living kin.
Kin. The wow of reunite, recovery, realization. My fear abated in the knowing, maybe her own fears did, too. Lessened, never lost.
a sheer scrim ripples over a girl’s image waking to now
Youth. Idealized freedom, a time of rustic camping among trees, mountain vistas, the breath of earth—when nature held me closest to rapture. Did I consider a Maker? In retrospect, what held more sway was power of away and within; a ritual of trees and sky, and experimentation, when raw euphoria was key to my spiritual experience.
We were, after all, flower children. Once, on a mountain hike near Aspen, when all ingredients were conducive, my heart sang. Mescaline heightened my senses. Roar and ripple of creek, ethereal mid-day mountain-light, and warmth of baking grasses and stone; thrill of a new birdsong, and a community of peers. In that illusory moment I only received. Much later, I might learn to return the blessing.
my life within gardens was it escape, or deeper digging?
Mary Ellen Gambutti (Sarasota, FL) Mary Ellen’s work appears in Remembered Arts Journal, Modern Creative Life, Thousand and One Stories, Halcyon Days, Memoir Magazine, Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, Amethyst Review, Soft Cartel, FewerThan500, BellaMused, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, Quiet Storm, and more. Stroke Story, My Journey There and Back (Amazon), Permanent Home (Jan. 2019).