I saw it yesterday, in the cemetery.
Two stones with only one marking apiece:
"Ma," said one. "Pa," the other.
And I am different today. Do you understand? It was their best (their only) name, it was who they were and what they accomplished, and everything else had been swallowed up but two letters. They were summarized: Ma. Pa. I felt that moment that all my ambitions for a succulent public identity have only been a mask--swept away by the sight of two dead stones.
Because some hopes are too precious, too much, too dear, too great to be seen; they tremble; my heart trembles around them, trembles that they might be lost, throbs in agitation when they are even suspected.
It is the glory of the home that I long for, the glamour of an apron, the fame of my children's eyes, the sheen of a clean floor, the adventure of wet toddler curls, the divinity of careful daily instruction, the resplendence of clasped hands and synchronized steps, the Masters of Community conferred by a different institution and carrying no letters with it.
But if I must have letters, I prefer Mrs to PhD; if I must be take up a diploma, I would prefer the hearth's diplomacy ("Share, son"); really-- I want Ma more than M.A.
How could the wind in my ambitious sails be shown up as hot air--before there is some whispered promise of the thing they've covered for all along?
Is it weakness? is it a giving up?
And will you honor it, Oh God, this one thing that I want enough to hide and bargain for? Is it dangerous, this quaking kind of desire? (Anything is dangerous that is so MUCH.) Worse...is it going to be enough for me--after a lifetime of cultivating cover-dream--will it ever be enough to shackle myself willingly to a kitchen, bedroom, rocking chair? Will my created cover-dreams flare and declare the smallness of my life?
Oh, of course they will. That's why love is a decision; that's why the Great Adventure will ever be my Significance. University or nursery, stage or pew, there must be only one theme for this life. Bring ivy-league bricks or babies, mics or men, songs or stoves, greek letters or love...
There is but one Significance to me. He.