Scarecrow

If the house were burning, I know the one thing I would run back in to save: the scarecrow candle. A present from my mother when I was pregnant. I was always in love with scarecrows. She thought it would forever remind me of my autumn baby. But all these years later, to me it is a symbol of my mother.

She was fragile with a flimsy will and a tattered soul. Her heart was frayed around the edges; she buried her pain in the backyard along with whiskey bottles, soothed her bruised soul with pills she sometimes hid under the rug.

But on good days she fed sparrows and hummingbirds from the palm of her hand, incubated wild bird eggs on a heating pad, turning them oh so gently by the hour. She rescued garter snakes from harm's way in the middle of the road, taught us how to feed abandoned newborn bunnies and orphaned baby squirrels with a syringe, hoot back to an owl on a moonlit night and read and respond to an ache in someone's eyes.

My mother's sorrow made her a magnet for magic and hurt that others couldn't see. She saw the world through the lens of lack and need. Longing made her luminous, kind. Hers were the hands the dogs wanted along their ears, that her children needed in their hair.

Her life had been fraught with anguish from which she couldn't really recover. So, no, she wasn't strong; she wasn't the tough person this society seems to value. Violence in her childhood shattered her spirit, her sweet, generous spirit. But, oh my goodness, the pieces were so lovely.