Monday, October 06, 2008

Mountain Ash

A flash of light from the outlet, when I plug in the laptop: piercing blue at the center, yellow at the edges. I see, suddenly, all the wiring of the city, snaking through all those walls; the substations, the brooding gigantism of Bonneville dam, millions upon millions of lights burning, lights burning just to make a room cheerful, lights left on thoughtlessly. Motors running: kitchen appliances, clocks, stoves. I walk through the house with the lights out, and see tiny eyes glowing in every room, a dozen little red or green indicator lights on various gadgets that aren't even doing anything, but which feel the need to say that they're alive. Microwaves that want to tell me the time. Smoke alarms displaying vigilance. The machine equivalent of blogging.

Your pale face held an unearthly beauty yesterday, a beauty I wanted to reach through to, but am old enough to know can't be touched. Like reflections in a pool: the moment you touch, they vanish. Instead I turn your head and grasp the back of your neck and give the whole thing a soft wringing-out. "Like a cat picking up a kitten," someone said, an image that is inaccurate, but which always recurs. Then, putting a little traction on the skull with a thumb and forefinger in the suboccipitals, the other hand cradling the occiput, I rotate the head, slowly, barely perceptibly, like the wheel of the stars at night. I speculate that you must do yoga, and then realize that you, in your twenties, can probably take this range of motion quite for granted. All the way from the rising of Vega to the setting of Arcturus. I could turn even further, if I liked. Young owl.

Later you talk eagerly, glowing, sitting on the bed. I stand a little awkwardly -- I'm not willing to claim the intimacy of sitting on the bed or on the floor, and there's no other seat to be had -- and I feel again how oddly my age sits on me. But no. Really my age suits me, I think. I have always been this old, and now I've grown into it. The thing out of place is the way I thought of people my age when I was young, or maybe, to be more accurate, how I didn't think of people my age. In a just world you'd ignore me completely, tit for tat, as paper cut-out rather than as a person. Fortunately, fortunately, it's not a just world.

Sun on the mountain ash, its fruit a glowing rust-color, the even-set leaflets rippling in the breeze.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

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