In the tiny wooden dirt road cabin, negative a million just beyond the frosty window, Sy and I sip hot tea smelling of cigarettes and pine, black as squid ink and delicious to few. We share a sense of comfort in the automated, eternally unchanging voice on the weather radio, enjoy Ira Glass and Science Friday on NPR, together detest Prairie Home Companion. “Garrison Keillor is an arrogant fucking prick”. Amen. We are a church of two.
My hands hug my smelly warm mug, my knees up and stocking feet against her thigh, Sy with her nursing pillow, feeding that lovely red-hair baby, Sy and I, catty corner on the couch. We’ve been right here, just like this, for two days, but who’s counting, in this Vermont-deep winter?
Leaning back, in the twinkle of her Jewish Christmas tree, Sy delights me with stories of her home state’s legal oddities. Public nudity is legal, an occasional draw for Jersey perverts. Gay marriage is legal, because well of course, WTF? George Bush is illegal, that war-crimes hater, and Vermont will arrest him. I fucking love Vermont.
Sy interprets biblical texts, reads sci-fi and eats raw philosophy on whole grain bread. Also has a thing for breaded chicken patties. In the event of chicken patty toxic apocalypse, eat a Christian Scientist – no one else is FDA approved. We’ve claimed Sy, Mom and I, Mom who should be with us on this couch, but who may skip the cigarette tea; Mom grounded in far-away Philly, the weather indifferent to her desire to meet the baby, her grandson with sky eyes. Mom says Sy is a misplaced zygote. Who’s counting? With Sy and I, with Mom and Sy, love is thick as blood.
Rough around the edges, bare-plank-walled, heavy snow boot, crocheted, hand-hewn, bare-bones poor, wind-chilled white, compost socialist Sy.
And now, Mama to a strawberry boy, in sweet shades of his gentle Papa, a Vermont maple-tapped snow boy with poplar legs and sky eyes. Sy in her lovely, lovely life, watching the winter wind dance the cold bare branches of the outside.
Large and rolling, thick brown braid, solid legs strong hands big feet Sy. Sy has travelled the world, learned the language of chili and saffron, seen the view from the psycho side of barred windows, built dwellings for her heart. She has dipped her fingers into fragile serenity, plunged into midnights of wrenching grief and electric-shock body-bag loss, raised herself over and over and over.
With Sy and I, together on this couch with our dank drink and our new boy, it’s like there was never a time without this moment. It will be hard to leave. Sy, dust to ice, Appalachia to the Green Mountains, we are family. I claim you, sister.