Friday, June 05, 2009

Climate Change

Pollen-crusted twigs and blossoms litter the sidewalks this morning, torn loose by the warning.

Yesterday from the cafe windows opposite Powell's I watched the sunlight disappear, the darkness hurry up from somewhere under the street, and an abrupt violent wind, a stranger here, pick up shingles and wallpostings and fling them into the sky. Raging.

This is Texas, I thought to myself. I've seen this before, these sudden freaks. But not here. This is Texas. This is the end.

Girls hurried by holding their skirts down. I hoped their dresses would blow up around their heads; I hoped the rain would turn their thin summer dresses into clinging transparencies. I wondered how old in the dharma I would have to be before my compassion was stronger my wish to see them exposed, than that enjoyment of vulnerability. That's Texas too, that old wound, that deformation of eros. I am a stranger here too.

I walked to the bus stop in the rain. I was soaking wet in minutes. The air was still warm, but the rain was cold. On the bus I wiped the water from my face. Someone behind me was coughing, a hopeless, weak, bronchial cough. Must be someone old, homeless, uninsured. The sort of detritus you get on the bus.

In a lull I stole a glance. The only person behind me was a strong teenaged boy, nicely dressed, with long glossy hair.

You don't know anything, Dale, I told myself. You think you know everything, but you don't know anything.

And this morning?

This morning I am catching minnows in my hands, hunting shadows. Sunlight flickers and nods through green leaves. Rhymes tickle me. I have a gumbie cat in mind; her name is Jennyanydots.

I wish you were here. I wish things were simple. I wish I could back out of this old, worn-out life, leave my crumpled snakeskin here, on the sidewalk, along with the twigs, and start fresh.

But I will never be well. Maybe that was me, coughing on the bus. Maybe that was me, holding my skirt down while the wind came down from Texas. My whole body is laced with illness. My arteries are hardening, my blood pressure is rising. I become puffy, red-faced, impotent. I saw a man on the street the other day, red faced and neckless, hair white like mine, his whole body a congestive disaster. That's me, too.

Or. There's the man who rode his bike to Tosi's this morning, hale and sound, and put his helmet on the table. Read poetry, studied Chinese. Who's that?

Outside, the cars toil down Sandy Boulevard, most with their lights on. It's a dark morning and doesn't promise to get much brighter. The rain's begun again. All those people going downtown to work, driving down to fill up the parking garages, car after car crossing the bridges, and then spiraling up into the concrete shells. It's in-between time, they think. An interstice. But really it's their whole lives. They kill the engines and sit in their cars, downtown, and fall asleep, and dream about going to work, and then they wake up and drive home, and in their driveways they fall asleep again and dream that they're at home, until morning. They never actually leave the cars. All of them, all of them convinced that they're actually leading two other lives, one at work and one at home. I'd tell them, but think how embarrassed they'd be. Better to leave it alone.

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