Restored riches

We were sitting in the living room. Upstairs Eli whooped, and a few seconds later he burst out, “Hey, I found my wallet!”

“Hooray!” we answered, having all been waiting for this moment. A few days earlier, Eli had lost his wallet, and the search for it had been a running narrative in our house: the calls to the places he had visited, the rummaging under the seats of the cars, and the repeated question: “Could you have left it in [x place]?”

He thumped down the stairs, pants on and shirt off. Apparently the wallet was in his t-shirt drawer, which he rarely looks in because his laundered clothes seem to stay in the same basket they travel to his room in.

“I’m so relieved. I knew it was at home somewhere!”

His energy and lightness reminded me of a Kay Ryan poem I coincidentally had read the night before, called “Relief,” and I told him about it and what it made me recognize.


by Kay Ryan

We know it is close
to something lofty.
Simply getting over being sick
or finding lost property
has in it the leap,
the purge, the quick humility
of witnessing a birth–
how love seeps up
and retakes the earth.
There is a dreamy wading feeling to your walk
inside the current
of restored riches,
clocks set back,
disasters averted.

Still dreamy over his found wallet, Eli said, “Yes. Just last week my friends and I were talking about relief, and how it is the best feeling.” He smiled, and his voice emphasized best. I thought about how relief and happiness, like anger and sadness, might be twin emotions.

A few days later, Jimmy and I went outdoors to pick up all the branches and trash that the disappearing snow has revealed one layer at a time. In our yard we found Dunkin Donuts cups, an ice cream container, scraps of vinyl from the new crosswalk that was scraped up by the plow, a pack of breath mints (empty), snack bar wrappers, and a small-size pizza box. None of these items seemed to originate from our trash. Perhaps our Starbucks cups, strawberry boxes, water bottles, Diet Coke caps, and gum wrappers were found in other yards.

I raked away the leaves from the daisies and euphorbia, which, I observed, are getting their start, and chopped at the islands of snow still holding down branches of the weigela, ilex, and euonymous. Branches freed, the bushes immediately straightened up, not trained by this winter into hunched back-ness, as I had feared.

As I continued to rake around the yard, here and there I saw shoots of crocuses needling their way up. The worry inside me — that winter has been too cold, the snow too deep for the November-planted bulbs to survive and do what they do — flipped instantly, as easy as a coin toss but with the same held breath. They made it!

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