Quotes by "Ellen Bass"
to love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you've held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you I will love you, again.
Gate C22 At gate C22 in the Portland airport a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed a woman arriving from Orange County. They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking, the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other like he’d just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island, like she’d been released at last from ICU, snapped out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing. Neither of them was young. His beard was gray. She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish kisses like the ocean in the early morning, the way it gathers and swells, sucking each rock under, swallowing it again and again. We were all watching– passengers waiting for the delayed flight to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots, the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling sunglasses. We couldn’t look away. We could taste the kisses crushed in our mouths. But the best part was his face. When he drew back and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost as though he were a mother still open from giving birth, as your mother must have looked at you, no matter what happened after–if she beat you or left you or you’re lonely now–you once lay there, the vernix not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth. The whole wing of the airport hushed, all of us trying to slip into that woman’s middle-aged body, her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses, little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.
When You Return Fallen leaves will climb back into trees. Shards of the shattered vase will rise and reassemble on the table. Plastic raincoats will refold into their flat envelopes. The egg, bald yolk and its transparent halo, slide back in the thin, calcium shell. Curses will pour back into mouths, letters un-write themselves, words siphoned up into the pen. My gray hair will darken and become the feathers of a black swan. Bullets will snap back into their chambers, the powder tamped tight in brass casings. Borders will disappear from maps. Rust revert to oxygen and time. The fire return to the log, the log to the tree, the white root curled up in the un-split seed. Birdsong will fly into the lark’s lungs, answers become questions again. When you return, sweaters will unravel and wool grow on the sheep. Rock will go home to mountain, gold to vein. Wine crushed into the grape, oil pressed into the olive. Silk reeled in to the spider’s belly. Night moths tucked close into cocoons, ink drained from the indigo tattoo. Diamonds will be returned to coal, coal to rotting ferns, rain to clouds, light to stars sucked back and back into one timeless point, the way it was before the world was born, that fresh, that whole, nothing broken, nothing torn apart.