Monday, May 30, 2011
The Honey Dipper of the Heart
Photo from the Honey Harvest Farms Catalog
She said scornfully, “You don't know what orzo is? It's not rice. It's pasta, shaped like rice.” When she spoke faster, as the flirtation proceeded, her r's stumbled over each other and began to roll. I couldn't place the accent. Greek?
The Greeks seem unable to shake the delusion that pasta belongs in soups. I remember dozens of shipboard meals of spaghetti soup: that, and spinach, cooked to disintegration, floating like seaweed in bowls of olive oil. We speculated among ourselves: did the Greeks eat that stuff at home, or was it just something they thought tourists would like?
Pasta in soup can be done. That avgolemno, egg-lemon soup! We used to eat it in Seattle, at a place in the U-District called “The Continental Cafe.” It was wonderful, sweet and sour, utterly new to us. A new taste for a new world.
Not new any more, of course. I don't know if the cafe, even if the district, is still there. When you're young you think these trendy neighborhoods are immortal, but they're as short-lived as rats. Seven years is a good run.
I watch the blue flickers run down the sides of my face, pool along the top of my collar bone, and soak inwards. The sudden thin wash of despair. Yah. It changes nothing, my pretty darlings..
But. Not looking for new worlds, now. Looking for a way to fully inhabit the ones I know. God, this is hard. And the rewards seem so slight, compared to the tremendous rattle and roll of death and debility. Just one more, they whisper. Just one more world, before you give up. This time you'll know what to do.
I grow increasingly suspicious of the provisional, the “just for now,” the “just this once,” even as I become more deeply convinced of impermanence. Ad hoc, we say, but everything is ad hoc: the real question is just what hock we're adding to.
I settle my forearm across the small of the back, let it wash up on the shore of the sacrum, and rake between the ribs with the fingers of my other hand: up the grooved side and over the back. I just want people to know that their ribs go all the way around, sweet living hoops, graceful flourishes.
The cage of the heart, said the Anglo-Saxon poets, with the typical Anglo-Saxon stupidity about the body. No. Say the sleeve of the heart, the honey dipper of the heart, the Saturn's rings of the heart. They're not caging anything. They're less like armor than they are like the framework of bars over the bed of our pickup truck, something you can grab and tie to.