“Back Yard” by Carl Sandburg
Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain to-night.
An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
to-night they are throwing you kisses.
An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
cherry tree in his back yard.
The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
white thoughts you rain down.
Shine on, O moon,
Shake out more and more silver changes.
If it’s not 100 degrees outside, we spend time on the deck. Atticus climbs on the bench and throws leaves over the edge. His trucks have a permanent home out there, as do balls of various sizes. Mike and I sit with our coffee and read while he plays. We drink wine there in the evenings. I can’t remember what it was like not to have a deck.
In my mind, things are clearly delineated. I am a reader and a flip-flop wearer. I am indoorsy. I drink coffee. I like cats. This is who I am and this is what I do. I am wary of things that seem risky to me. Because I don’t want to be left out. Because I don’t want to fail.
Mike knows these things about me, that it’s hard for me, sometimes, to imagine change. That I get afraid to make things different. He is patient and gives me time to warm up to things. He pushes, not too hard, when he thinks I need to take a risk. He encourages me to say yes. He reminds me how much I enjoy the pool.
I was suspicious of “pool people” until I became one of them. Until I took a swimming lesson. Until I jumped off the high dive. But still, when Mike began lobbying for a deck, I resisted. There are so many things to do to the inside of this house, I said. State employees don’t get raises anymore. We had a deck at our old house and we never used it. I am not sure I am a deck person.
I am not sure what, exactly, it means to be a deck person. Or how it would be possible to fail at having a deck. But I was firm. I wanted to stay inside. Where the books are. Where the air conditioning is. Where there are no bugs.
We need a place for Atticus to play, he insisted. And: I am a deck person.
We used to be less tired, before Atticus. We used to keep things a little cleaner. We used to spend more time inside.
We didn’t have a deck back then. But I wish we had.