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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

More Than Meets the Eye

I awoke this morning to a text from a close friend. “I know it’s early, but I wanted you to know that D went home last night.”

D. My longtime friend from our former hometown. The friend that I prayed for countless times while walking in the park near our home.

Flashback to words I wrote then. Comfort I need now.

You, too?

Her alibi would never stand in a court of law.

Kicking off her sneakers, the Midwestern woman tells her husband she was walking in the nearby park.

“See anyone you know?”

No, she never does. And no one ever sees her.

He has no reason not to believe her. She has no reason to lie. Nearly every day’s end she slips out of the prairie-style house and walks away from her responsibilities. After sunshine hours hunched over a computer screen and sundowns bent over densely-written books, everything north of her chest barks Enough! and she finally listens, pushes back, laces her shoes.

Her feet know where to go without telling – a handful of suburban blocks north to a park emptied of the young trailing their tired caregivers home. Day’s strong will has broken, her colors melting like butter into the still-warm earth. Coolness mists out of the nearby marsh. Hedges high as a man's head bracket her walk like parentheses. Weeds pretty enough to bear the names of black-eyed women and a sovereign’s lace loom large on either side.

Dusk gathers its offspring and Dark edges near. But not quite yet.

The woman walks in the sheltering twilight, each foot falling in gentle rhythm, every petition rising. The last light lets her see clearly but not be seen. She loves that. Relishes the quiet, the invisible cloak thrown over shoulders shrugging off the day’s business.

The park’s orchestra strikes up, one group after another from a hidden bandstand. The Cicadas. The Crickets. The Frogs’ thumping bass from the lagoon and the peepers’ percussion.

Crepuscular animals emerge, secure in their invisibility. Winged beetles take to the air, their bioluminescence making bright holes in the atmosphere.

What is it about twilight, she wonders? Why does this time of day so sooth my soul, lubricate my prayers?

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Heavenly Father, my friend has cancer, the woman murmurs into the dusk. Her family depends on her so. Have mercy on them, Lord. Grant them more time with her.

In the half-light little vision is necessary. She senses Him more than she sees Him. Compassion and patience and a power so enormous that she feels very, very small.

And very, very loved.

In that place there is more than meets the eye.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see— O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

The screen door bangs behind her and the collie looks up. Her husband peers over his glasses, nods.

“Glad you’re back before dark,” he says.

Yes, she says simply. I am.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless; Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness; Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.


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