A deep breath this morning as I sit down. Salted coffee, and blackbirds outside the window. I didn’t write yesterday, but spent a full day with a new printer: learning to adjust for paper weights, manual feed, and double-sided pages. A lot of trial and error. Small steps forward. Or sideways.

No: I am moving forward again.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I got my first pair of glasses. But I remember looking at a tree and realizing that you are supposed to see the individual leaves on trees. My eyesight had deteriorated so gradually I hadn’t noticed what I had lost of the world.

This week I feel like I can see the leaves on the trees. It’s not that life is less crowded, but it is more vibrant. Distinguishing the foreground from the background, wresting meaning from it all is easier.

There is a saying that things having gradually then all at once. But these past years, things happened all at once, and then so gradually that I thought changes were improvements, or at least adjustments. I didn’t see the signs of depression because the everyday problems were so tiny compared to the crisis that began it all. How could I be having trouble getting through the day when the worst was over a long time ago?

My world is popping back into three dimensions. Other people seem more substantial. I realize how odd that sounds. I don’t mean that in comparison with how I perceived myself, I have been insubstantial, too. That is what depression does. In my case the desperate search for meaning and pleasure can look like business, like creativity or a “spark” of joy. But the spark is just me bumping against the metallic edge of panic. Wheels spinning, and life is just so much harder than it needs to be. Pinched.

When the doctor asked me if I was depressed, I said I didn’t think so. I said I was overwhelmed, hypomanic. But now I see.

Now I feel like crying. And that is a very good thing.

Last night walking Leonard in the dark, I heard the wheeeEEE of the pterodactyls lapwings. They are back, so it is officially spring. Officially a time to mark new beginnings.

under the streetlight
wet paw prints, footsteps glisten
temporarily
like loved ones gone by morning
after a crossing over

I don’t want to write about how difficult things have been. It feels like I’m hitting a single note too often. I will say: I miss the trail.

This morning I saw a new doctor, and we’re making a plan. Driving home I noticed that most of the snow is already gone, even from the hollows and the fallow fields. The winds have picked up, and I can feel them even while driving the car on the motorway. I’m imagining them pushing me forward. Easy – no stumbling.

One good thing is that it’s safe to run again. No imperceptible patches of ice at the edges of each lamplight’s reach. “Black ice” they call it here, and it sounds very much like a curse word in my ear. The mornings are still dark, but less dangerous. The crunch of the gravel, the occasional snap of a twig. Nothing ominous. Nothing frozen in place. Whatever the foot meets gives just enough. Just enough to make this bit of the world, at this point in time, safe.

I miss the blackbirds that hop along the edges of the path, their orange beaks flashing like tiny flames – living talismans – the sun will rise – spring will come. I need to see them. To share the air with them in a real moment, not in a memory, in poems, in theory, as concepts.

I was listening to a woman on a podcast talking about how this “moment” in time is liminal – a transition. But what moment isn’t?

What isn’t?

What is it about us that we want to label things and order them in categories, as diagnosis, in blacklists, as offenses, and more rarely as joys? Someone’s “Golden Age” is someone else’s liminal Hell, waiting for “progress” to trickle down. Every future is an imagined future. Every past, formed: polished and neutered.

That was “this thing” and we are moving toward “that thing”. Is a construction of the imagination. But there are days when I think any myth will do, if it helps us to hold ourselves together.

After all these years, if I know anything, it’s that pinning down the right words – magic as they are – doesn’t change the phenomenon; any witch will tell you a spell isn’t a cure. And it can’t fix the world, in any sense of the word.

Walking Leonard, I pause while he tests the ice on a frozen puddle in the field. The surface over the yellow grass is smooth, and cloudy. I watch tiny white bubbles sliding away from me, nudging the clouds just under the surface. Trapped air, like fishes moving without moving. I find a reference point. Moving, not moving.

I take thirty seconds of film – and the world is absolutely still.

living memory
is an oxymoron too
familiar too
mythical too true to be
shoved into the lines of a poem