Everything is Held

All around my house, things hold things. 

Above my dresser, hooks hold necklaces and sparkly bracelets. A funky piece of window screen from my old house in Aurora holds earrings: the post slipped through the tiny holes, the clasp pushed on from the back. On my bedside table, a small bamboo tray holds cream and a clock. 

My kitchen cupboards are filled with jars that hold filberts, pumpkin seeds, dal, kasha, rice, coconut, almonds, oats. The tiny bowls we brought back from Portugal and Mexico hold a tea bag or a few olives.

Everything is held.

I remember when you held me, when I was sleepy or laughing or sick. Wrapped in your arms, feeling contained somehow made me feel stronger. Before you, aching to be held was that too-loose, edgeless feeling. I know why my grandson wants to be swaddled.

You put something in something. Give it a place. A holder, not to constrain it, but to frame it to advantage, to protect it from harm, to offer it up.

I love those stores where you can buy things to put things in. Who thought to make a thing just for that? A clever design with just the right shapes. Bespoke.

Everyone should have that feeling of a thing fitted just for that. Made for you, to hold you, whatever you are. A tilted hook a bracelet won’t fall off of. A clean jar, scrubbed of sticky labels, for round brown filberts. Not to achieve superior order. But to be known. For the world to acknowledge your presence. This is you. This is your place, this bamboo tray. This is your shape, this tiny pottery bowl. 

A few years after our house was finally paid off, our neighbor’s house on Terwilliger Boulevard slid down the hill, crushing the house below it and damaging two others on its reckless path. Not long after, we had ours bolted to its foundation.

When insomnia pesters me awake, I lay there and breathe. No tray or bowl can contain my nighttime thoughts. I still have work to do. 

But when I look around, and I see things cupped, as in palms, and if I can trust, as Rilke wrote, that life has not forgotten me, that it holds me in its hand and will not let me fall, well then, for that moment, I feel safe. 

Published In:

Oregon Humanities Magazine, Summer 2015