The eagles are back at their nest. Or in trees nearby. Whenever they return, the meadow quiets of birdsong, and the doves hide.
What if all our stories are love stories? Once they end, I mean.
I’d stretched the ladder, leaned it against the porch roof, and climbed up. I used a broom to sweep the leaves from the corner, and cleared all the gutters. I’d dragged the whole thing out as long as possible before I approached the ladder again.
In Missouri, we climbed on the shed roof and leapt off. Climbed into the pine trees and then shot put ourselves from the lowest branches. We launched into the air from ramps, and curbs, and boulders.
But I have injuries now. Launching is metaphorical at 44.
So I am afraid to step back onto the ladder. I try several times, and my eyes fill with tears.
On the bottom rung of the ladder, my wife stands and looks up at me. She volunteered to climb onto the roof. Even after she twisted her ankle and fell down the hill while we were clearing the gutters at the back of the house.
“I think maybe if we move the ladder to my left side,” I say, “it’ll be easier for me.” I have no idea if this is true, but I’m hopeful.
“Sure,” she says, and we move it.
And now, out of excuses, I step on the ladder and climb down easily. As though there were nothing to be afraid of. Nothing dangerous.
My wife limps inside and ices her twisted ankle.
I put the ladder away.
We were just cleaning the gutters. Stretching our new ladder to accommodate our task. She fell, injured herself, and would have taken my place on the roof despite her injury. Because she knew I was afraid.
And I went up because she was injured. And because I only need to be careful, not frightened.
I walk through the neighborhood, down to the meadow. The eagles cry to one another. And the meadow rings with their calls.
It doesn’t always seem like a love story. Not at first.