Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Zofia Nalkowska writes in Medallions that we’re never given reality in its entirety, it reaches us only in “fragments of events,” and this alone permits us to bear periods of historical catastrophes. But isn’t it just the opposite? We manage to survive great misfortunes, times of terror, only because we receive an excess of reality. Of course, tyrants waste no time, but a bird is still singing somewhere, a tram bell rings, rain begins falling, a neighbor asks to borrow a pinch of sugar, I hear my heart beating, stars burn at night as they always do. Someone plays cards in the suburbs, a bottle of rotgut stands in the grass, green tomatoes ripen in the sun.


Notes:

  • Post Inspiration: A gunman walked into a small Baptist church in rural Texas on Sunday and opened fire, killing at least 25 people and turning a tiny town east of San Antonio into the scene of the country’s most recent mass horror. (NY Times, November 5, 2017)
  • Photo: Harvest to Table
  • Related Posts: Adam Zagajewski

I sat there awestruck, transfixed

I felt an unholy storm move through my body. And after that, there was a brief lapse in my recollection. Either I blacked out from the pain, or I have blotted out the memory. And then, there was another person on the floor in front of me, moving his arms and legs – alive. I heard myself say out loud, this can’t be good. But it looked good. My baby was as pretty as a seashell. He was translucent and pink and very, very small, but he was flawless. His lovely lips were opening and closing, opening and closing, swallowing the new world.

For a length of time I cannot delineate, I sat there awestruck, transfixed. Every finger, every toenail, the golden shadow of his eyebrows coming in, the elegance of his shoulders. All of it was miraculous, astonishing. I held him up to my face, his head and shoulders filling my hand, his legs dangling almost to my elbow. I tried to think of something maternal I could do to convey to him that I was his mother and that I had the situation completely under control. I kissed his forehead, and his skin felt like a silky frog’s on my mouth.

~ Ariel Levy from “The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir” (March 2017)


Notes:

Flying Over I-40 South. With Bird Calls.


It’s been 9 months, and we receive a piercing reminder of the only certainties in life: Death and Taxes. Tucked way at the back of the mailbox, sits a single, slight envelope – a bill for the license fee for Zeke’s tags. He’s gone damn it. He’s gone.

Dog tags. Metal to metal, nothing rubbing, nothing jingling. Just nothing.  Inert, they lay in an extra coin jar in the mud room, on top of dirty pennies, dimes, nickels and a few silver quarters. His weathered, leather leash, without him on the end of it, has been stored, way away.  Loose Change. Bone to Bone. Dust to dust. Nothing.

Melancholia saddles up and storms in.

I pull up the covers, and shiver.

It’s Spring. Low humidity. Soft intermittent rains. And nights sleeping with open windows.

With no bird dog leaning in…with no bird dog head nestling, warming my feet, there’s no longer a need to keep windows closed. No need for closed windows to block bird calls, those bird calls which triggered his wiring, which set off that nose, those whiskers, that twitching against the thigh as he adjusts his head to get a better look and better sniff; those same bird calls which would launch this Man’s Best Friend on high alert, jacking up his pulse rate and his innate need to run, to find and to flush. You ain’t running here no more. This Man’s leaning in on himself and falling over.

The window is wide open. A bird call interrupts the dark and the silence. 3:43 am.

Does she sleep? Or like a dolphin, does half her brain shut down, so the other half can monitor predators? How does she wake each morning with a Solo and always between 3:40 am to 3:55 am? Is she singing? Talking? To whom? To Me? About what? Does she sleep in trees? In her nest? Warming her eggs? Singing to her babies as any Mother would? Rock-a-bye baby, On the tree top, When the wind blows, The cradle will rock. When the bough breaks

By 4:10 am, she has wound up the entire neighborhood, and we’ve moved from solo to choir.  Bird song lifts the gates, the silvery light of dawn shimmering – the tide sweeps away the heaviness: Lightly Child, Lightly.  And here it comes: playing in the head on a loop…“Ain’t no passing craze.  It means no worries. For the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!”

The bird song reaches a crescendo, percussion, drums, guitars, horns, nature’s perfect harmony dragging my soul – Up, Up, Up.

Circle of Life Brother.

Circle of Life.



Inspired by:

The grief of the failed nest echoes in an entirely different register, but it is still a grief. In Tennessee it’s common for cardinals to nest twice in a season, hatching between two and five eggs each time, but few of their young will survive. The world is not large enough to contain so many cardinals, and predators must eat, too, and feed their young. It should not trouble me to know the sharp-eyed crow will feed its babies with hatchlings it steals from the cardinals, but I have watched day after day as the careful redbird constructed a sturdy nest in the laurel, and I have calculated how many days and nights she has sat upon those eggs, how many trips she has made to the nest to feed the babies, how many times she has sheltered them through a downpour. Day after day after day.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “Springtime’s Not-So-Peaceable Kingdom”, The New York Times · June 3, 2017

Walking Cross-Town. With little ones.


3:30 a.m. yesterday. Saw this photo and froze.

This THIS is the world our children live in today.

Look at her. Those eyes. Those little shoes.

Precious is tucked in close to Dad who is buying tickets for the show.

And then the scene darkens, a conjoining of rivers with Catherine Abbey Hodges’ closing lines in “How to Begin“: “You’re a strand of dark thread sticking a word to a river. Then another.

Manchester. 22 dead. Women, children, soft targets. UK terror threat raised to Critical. 1000 troops deployed.

Dear Ms. Hodges, is the question How to Begin?

Or is it, How does it end? [Read more…]

I just don’t want to dodge any of it. I just want to stand there, shirt open, and take my hits and see, and see

(Many) Excerpts from a remarkable interview where Brad Pitt Talks Divorce, Quitting Drinking, and Becoming a Better Man (GQ: May 3, 2017):

Pitt is the first one to acknowledge that it’s been chaos these past six months…he seems absolutely locked in one moment and a little twitchy and forlorn in the next, having been put on a journey he didn’t intend to make but admits was “self-inflicted.” …Any of my foibles are born from my own hubris… I often say the wrong thing, often in the wrong place and time. Often. In my own private Idaho… I don’t have that gift. I’m better speaking in some other art form. I’m trying to get better. I’m really trying to get better. […]

I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something. And you realize that a lot of it is, um—cigarettes, you know, pacifiers. And I’m running from feelings. I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that. I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem…Don’t want to live that way anymore… And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve…

You strip down to the foundation and break out the mortar. I don’t know. For me this period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street…I don’t know where it comes from, this hollow quest for justice for some perceived slight. I can drill on that for days and years. It’s done me no good whatsoever. It’s such a silly idea, the idea that the world is fair. And this is coming from a guy who hit the lottery, I’m well aware of that. I hit the lottery, and I still would waste my time on those hollow pursuits. […] [Read more…]

Voilà, I’m home now

October 28: Bringing maman’s body from Paris to Urt…The undertaker meets a “colleague” there…I walk a few steps…on one side of the square…bare ground, the smell of rain, the sticks. And yet, something like a savor of life (because of the sweet smell of the rain), the very first discharge, like a momentary palpitation.

October 29: How strange: her voice, which I knew so well, and which is said to be the very texture of memory (“ the dear inflection . . .”), I no longer hear. Like a localized deafness.

October 30: At Urt: sad, gentle, deep (relaxed).

November 1: Indeterminacy of the senses: one could just as well say that I have no feelings or that I’m given over to a sort of external, feminine (“ superficial”) emotivity, contrary to the serious image of “true” grief—or else that I’m deeply hopeless, struggling to hide it, not to darken everything around me, but at certain moments not able to stand it any longer and “collapsing.” [Read more…]

Breathe, babe, breathe

eric-rose-sleeping

I knelt beside him. “Breathe, babe, breathe,” I said to him, little puffs accompanying each word…After running a bunch of tests they decided that John had…No heart attack, as they had first surmised.  All of that was pretty memorable. But what I remember the most vividly is this: later that day, I was driving the rental car down some minor highway, the snow surrounding us still, a house here and there, both John and Maya asleep, and I felt a soaring sense of euphoria. Not a hallucinogenic euphoria. It was an earthly euphoria, one of the most grounded feelings, in fact, that I can ever remember having.

This is my person. This is my baby. They are both safe, sleeping. This is the snow. These are my strong hands on the steering wheel. This is my life. This is all there is. And it is so fragile. And beyond enough.

It is these moments that we fear, these moments that are inevitable, that put us in touch with a proportionate sense of gratitude for just how lucky we are to live on this earth for even one day.

I’m not claiming that’s any consolation for the suffering — particularly for those who don’t get the comparatively gentle perspective borne of close calls, but the brutal realization of disease and death. I’m just acutely aware of how much more accurately we weigh our own small lives when we touch into just how vast and inevitable loss really is. Time slows down. Our senses are empowered. The sound of a peacefully sleeping person that you love becomes what it really is, the most sacred sound in the entire universe.

~ Courtney E. Martin, from The Shocking Clarity of Almost Losing it All (On Being, Dec 16, 2016)


Photo: Eric Rose

Running. With 0.5 Wolfpack.

mianus-river-park-nov-2016

Kids: “Dad, People just don’t do that. It’s weird.”
Dad: “Listen, I’m not People.”
Kids: Eyes roll. Whispering to each other, don’t we know that.

My text message is sent to the neighbors the night before.
“…Will Anya be free to come out to play in the morning?”
Text message comes zipping back.
“…Of course. We’ll leave the door unlocked, and the leash by the door.”

This has become a weekend routine.

She now knows what’s coming when the leash is by the door. She hears the car pull up, its daybreak. I walk up to the door, there’s a soft “woof” – she’s been waiting. I can hear the pitter patter of her paws on the wood floor. I open the door and she bounds out, ready to join her new BFF.

When you lose your dog, when the wounds are still fresh, and you haven’t / can’t replace your dog, what do you do?  You borrow the neighbor’s Dog, of course. It’s not weird, it’s a bloody necessity. 0.5 Wolfpack is better than no Wolfpack at all. [Read more…]

Oh taste how sweet and tart

red-seeds-juice

Bad things are going to happen…
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory…
Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.

~ Ellen Bass, excerpt from Relax


Notes:

Running. A Blossom Rupturing.

gif-lights-dark-night

It’s dark, I grope, I grip the wooden arm of the bannister at the top of the stairs. I’m about to take the first step down and here it comes. Not just one morning, every morning.

Must be Mandelstam’s Blossom. It hovers. It hammers. It is now.  It is not. It ruptures and raptures. I try to turn, to turn away to Light. Yet and yet and yet, it pulls me back. A beckoning for what? To what?

55° F. Saturday morning. I’m on the front porch. Rain is spitting Autumn, the season has turned.

Mile 2:
I look down. Gray shirt. Gray shorts.  Gray water bottle.  Gray and Blue shoes. I look up, Gray skies. Synchronicity – cosmic alignment. [Read more…]

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