Inside this Diorama, 2

Nothing can be done inside this diorama. From the moment of birth, babies move toward independence. If a mother has done her job well, her child will become a well-adjusted, independent adult. And comes the day her child will return her mother to her own single doorstep with warm hugs and thanks-Mom-I-love-you hollers. And this mother will pretend to step inside her darkened house, knowing her daughter will watch to make sure she gets in okay. But then she will step back outside, this mother, and listen to her daughter drive away. Headlights bouncing, red taillights glowing. As it should be, yes.

Beauty is: not being in control at all times. This is something I read in Annie Liebovitz’s latest book, Pilgrimage. Some of her favorite shots happened when she let go, she wrote. I have this in my mind—this letting go. And I have in my coat pocket—my camera. And deep in the snowbank beneath my second-story bedroom window rise the withered stalks of my favorite yellow rose bush.

I pick my path through the deep snow and kneel. Mittens off, macro setting on, I still my breath and focus on the shot. The world as I know it freezes, catches its breath and waits for Mother in a Red Coat to snap her shot. On the far side of the blue spruce pine centered in her tiny yard comes the sound of footsteps. One, two, stop. Three, four, stop. At first, she wants to panic, thinking: robber, bad guy, thief. But then she realizes the sound is dainty. Dainty as in deer. And as long as she doesn’t move, the deer will stay to study her—they peer at her through the branches of the blue spruce—this Woman Knelt in Snow.

About the author

Sherry O’Keefe, a descendant of one of the first Montana pioneers, a mother of two, grandmother to almost four, credits/blames her Irish upbringing for…

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Issue 24 · Autumn 2021

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