Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Glaring Spot

A glaring spot in the eastern clouds, as if someone had taken out a handkerchief and tried to scrub them away. A weary Sunday morning takes shape. I yawn and my neck muscles complain. My eyes hurt. Do I have a cold, or am I just short on sleep?

My body feels mutinous, old, irrascible. I need to buy shoes for my father-in-law's funeral. Other than that, I should be able to make do with my old blazer and slacks. I'd like to be reasonably formal and presentable, but I don't want to invest much in dress clothes: I don't expect to have to dress up many more times in my life. But theirs was a generation that took formal dressing seriously, as a duty and as an expression of respect. My nephew's been dispatched to purchase an old-fashioned white shirt, so that Ernie can be buried properly, wearing cufflinks. The least I can do is wear sober shoes.

Yearning to be away, off on the road, headed for the high desert of New Mexico, or maybe the mountains of Montana. Someplace where the sky goes on whether your eyes do or not. I grudge every second spent pleasing people, these days. Everything short of delight seems like a waste of time.

The urgency is greater all the time: there's an angel at my shoulder muttering “no time for that either!” This isn't anxiety. I'm not afraid of running out of anything – not of energy, not of creativity, and certainly not of time. This is an urgency of plenitude, not of lack. The urgency of a momma cat searching for a good place to kitten.

I begin to be afraid of losing the proprieties. I feel answers such as, “I don't know, have you asked God?” or, “if I were you, I'd fall down flat on my face and beg forgiveness” rising to my lips in casual conversation. I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be fit for ordinary society.

But I don't mind, being used for this or that. People have to fit you into their stories somehow. How long would we last, if we looked at each other and saw straight to the divinity? You don't try to land a ship on the beach: you anchor offshore and send in boats.

“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself.”

Walk again with me. This isn't new: it's old, old stuff. Sappho strolled idly on the beach, trying out various lines to express her longing, and wondering what to have for supper.

The heft of something in our hands – stone, shell, wet sand – and a glaring spot in the western sky: the day leaving without a sunset, and the waves breaking. Not much changes.

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