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I will go for a walk in a bit and listen to my recorded book. As I walk I will send myself emails with little snippets of things I see in the park, pictures, and Ideas. These go into a galvanized bucket under my desk and when I am here I can dip my fingers into the bucket and let the words and memories roll off my fingers and back into the bucket. They are different colors and shapes. Some are shiny and some are not. Some are metal; some are wood, and some (I am quite sure) are plastic.
Jack went down into the basement to work. Jack Two was his name. People never ceased commenting on his name, how Two was an unusual family name. Where did it come from? They would ask. Are you… uhm… Welsh? He would patiently explain that it was a real name. His grandparents were British domestic servants. Of course, the name was too English to be anything else. When he was younger he had had fantasies of being royalty, or even an alien. He really wanted his family name to be something special. Eventually he got used to it. Used to Two.
Some last names just bring out the curious in people. They forget about propriety and ask rude questions and creating even ruder hypotheses on the spot. It is as if some switch were triggered in them executing a hidden subroutine that overrides everything else. Two, eh? You suppose there used to be another one? He had an older brother named One? Maybe there were nine or ten and the numbers were middle names because the parents ran out of ideas for naming all those kids? It would go on like that, a replacement for what Jack considered civil small talk.
Jack was all about civility and propriety, after all. That was due, in part, to how he was raised. His parents took traditional male and female roles in the home, with his father in charge and his mother quietly tending to all the domestic chores. As he got older, Jack slowly began to realize that his mother was the smarter of the two by quite a bit. At first he questioned this, and gradually began to resent his father for not being as bright and mentally quick as his mother. But he eventually realized that someone had to be smarter.
Jack’s father felt that there was a proper way to do everything, and that the method and manner were the most important part of a thing. It did not matter whether you were writing a poem or polishing a shoe, it had to be done in a proper way. “It is all we have,” he told Jack. “Without courtesy and propriety, we have nothing. You can be a Duke but without proper manners you are lower than a peasant.” This extended to getting up on time, making your bed before anything else, putting things away, and yes, polishing those shoes.
When I came down here there was a strange slowly pulsing spot of silver on the carpet. As I watched it faded as if the light were killing it. I reached down to touch it, to see if it was mold, but the spot was not damp, and as I touched it, it went away completely. I turned off the light, and it came back, but it faded again after a few seconds. I thought about going to get roomie to show her this marvelous spot, but then I thought better of it. Sometimes she over-reacts to things like this.
I experimented with the lights and found they had no effect on the spot. which seemed to continue to pulse with a rhythm of its own. I circled it slowly, watching it fade completely and then grow brighter. Then it struck me what it was. I put my hand over it and there it was-- now on the back of my hand. There was a small gap in the basement curtain, letting in the sun, and that was the silver spot. The clouds drifting over the sun were causing the spot to fade and then grow brighter, seeming to pulse.
When I leave it will be like this in the afternoons. I will be alone listening to the wind. There will be a set of chimes. The clouds will drift by and the silence will seem to be too deafening to be drowned out by music. This how it will be. I will be drunk of sleeplessness. I will likely be scared. I will be scared both of what might happen and what might not happen. I will stay busy. That is how I deal with the fear. I just have to make sure the busy is the right stuff.
I am in a different place now. I am still scared. Life turns on a dime, gives you two cents change, and rushes off to its next appointment. Baby steps now. Baby steps. Baby steps. A willow branch brushes past the window fooling me into thinking for the hundredth time that someone is walking by. Oh there is lavender in the sky, even though I have come to understand that the quality of that light has more to do with my brain than anything out there. There must be a God I can call up now. Something to comfort me.
It had rained for three days, and the stump barely cleared the water. A muskrat swam up to it and crawled up onto it. It might have been a muskrat. Many animals in this kind of weather begin to look like muskrats after three days. It was wet and thin. It did not look cold though. The weather had not been that cold, merely wet, and the water just kept rising. The stump was not a naturally occurring stump. It had been sawed off neatly. It was one of a forest of similar stumps, all below water except this one.
I’m nestled in a dormer here. It is a smallish dormer, just big enough for the desk, although it is a very nice desk. Behind me is a bed and a closet, and my life has pretty much condensed itself into this space It’s just about right for me and I’m not sure why I would have ever needed more. Although I once seemed to. Perhaps events in my life have taken a worse turn than I thought, but it doesn’t seem like it. This is correct for me at this point. Any more would be a waste of space.
The clouds are putting on a slow parade for me today. They hardly move at all. It may be that there has been an accident at the intersection at the end of the street and they have to wait for it to clear before they can go any further. There is a hint of movement around the edges as people sort themselves out. “Why have we stopped?” “I don’t know. Maybe I will go check.” “Don’t get off. It may start up again and you will be left behind. You don’t want that do you?” They won’t leave me behind.”
I am giving up this sleeping thing for now. I tell myself I will get up and busy my mind for an hour and then catch another hour's sleep before starting work. That is the bargain I make. I think of you sleeping in your own darkness, and I try to make out your form. There are too many gaps in my understanding, My hour is half gone already. Another half hour has slipped away from my life. I am leaking time. I close my eyes and drift while my fingers find their way over the keyboard in the dark.
I am young inside. On the outside I am not so young, but most of me feels the same way I did when I was seven or seventeen. I am eternal summer. This consciousness is the same. The thing is I know it can slip away from me in such a way that I do not notice the difference between seventy and seven. I will think I am the same. I will think I am young inside, but I will not be. I will be failing, crippling, wheezing, in constant pain, all the while singing about the young in me.
My hands are dry again, chapped. I could find some lotion and put it on them, rub it in, but they will dry out again and become rough and red. I already put lotion on this morning. This is their natural state and I don’t know whether it is the lack of moisture in the air, or some product of aging in my skin. It doesn’t bother me though. I feel like it should. Certainly the advertisers have done their best to make me worry about dry skin, as if it were a disease about to take over my life.
There is a tree on the south side of the cemetery that my sister and I both have in our memory. It is a seedling growing out of the base of a larger tree, and as we pass she stops to touch it, making sure it is still there. She remarks it as she does, and perhaps this is because I too have stopped to remark this tree, to touch it, to take its picture. Our minds, those of my sister and me, seemed joined in some way. We are joined at this tree and at a thousand other places.
I am not sure which of the two of us was the first to notice we were connected in this way. It may have been my sister. It may be that she hasn’t noticed. It may be that she is used to it and has not noticed that it is different from the connections we have with the rest of the world. With the rest of the world, it is as if we are isolated, but between us, it is as if we inhabit the same space, the same idea. How can the rest of the world be so different?
I am mostly scared. This is what I feel as I look out through the willow branches at the sky. I feel fear. Fear and relief, mixed together, churning in my belly. I packed some essentials in my car and left last night. I left roomie sitting there in her self-righteous caldron of crazy. I really did not know what else to do. I was not going to fix her, and she was just making me a timid shadow of myself. Maybe that is what I am. I don’t know. I was not going to find out by staying there.
You offer protection and I would accept that, but I don't really understand what it is that stalks me these days. I suspect that I am not its only prey. I suspect it is very similar to the thing that stalks you, the thing that you seek protection from. It may be very similar to the thing that my sister seeks protection from, that the roomie, that my brother-in-law, that everyone I meet or touch seems to be seeking protection from. Bless those that seek protection, for theirs is not the cessation of dreams. Theirs is the cessation of pain.
And you love recklessly, and there is that word again missing so that I fall into a crevasse in my brain while searching for it. I know it. I know its meaning. I cannot recall the word however. II could not remember last time we talked. I was in the cemetery, climbing the hill in the back, the wind sweeping up across the newly plowed fields. I believed my sister uttered that word yesterday. We may have been talking about love and the word is a simple word and it means to love without any expectation of reward or repayment.
As I give up sleeping this morning, Google has told me it is 3:30. my right hand reaches out in the dark for the tin and china lamp that my mother must have picked out fifty years ago somewhere in some shop I wonder what makes people pick out and what makes people save such things, but there it is, in the dark. I am not sure whether I can see it or not, but it seems I can, even though there is very little light in the room. In my mind I can make out its shape and position.
I am not sure what it is that takes up all my time these days, whether it is my job, or my sister trying to gather up the pieces of me before they blow away like trash in the wind, or whether it is my own frantic movements as I try to elude the darkness that seems to be closing in. Darkness seems a little overly dramatic. It is not darkness. I don't think. It is the fear that darkness brings, and it is that fear itself, unreferenced, without any reason, without any parentage. Or perhaps it is unreferenced shame.
I won’t let myself look at the cause. It is something hidden, an ill-formed creature of skin and slime that lives in the mud up under the porch. You try to touch t and it slides away. What could that be? Or are these sentences just verbal constructs that my mind kicks out one after the other like a composer manipulating sequences of notes, one after the other, all the possible permutations mathematically possible. Twelve notes on a musical scale, but then you add in the variations in rhythm and dynamics, and suddenly you have nearly an infinity of compositions.
It is drawing closer. What is drawing closer? You ask. Why, the only thing that can draw closer at this point: the end. A car slides down the road out the window, a white car. It sticks in my mind that it is a Pontiac, mildly interesting, since they do not make Pontiacs any more. I remember the long steel hood of a Pontiac from years ago, and the orange face of Chief Pontiac peering out of a chrome casting. That car would have been old even then, and that was sixty years ago. Time passes quickly and then quicklier.
I wake up at 6:30 this morning. I will have always woken up at 6:30 this morning That piece of history is set in the amber of time and will forever remain there until someone or some thing finds a way to unravel time and re-weave it to suit themselves. I realize that this is possible and I can see that this, not death, is the ultimate threat to existence. Not only do I see this as possibility, but also I see it as certainty. I see it as certaintly that already will have been done. We need new grammar.
I woke up at 6:30 this morning. I always wake up at 6:30, even on days like today when I don’t have an alarm set. There is an alarm set inside me somewhere, one that goes off without fail and one that doesn’t care what holiday or day of the week it is. There is a lot of yellow in the light in the sky this morning. I mark that. I don’t know why I mark it. No one else will and perhaps that is my reason for being. I am the one who marks the color of that light.
I have the runny nose thing going on. I buy a lot of Kleenex because of that. Well, truth be told, I buy Puffs rather than Kleenex. The Kleenex are harder to get out of the box. They keep getting stuck down inside. My sister tells me my nose is runny because I am old. I don't know about that, because I have always had a runny nose, and for as long as I can remember every trip to the supermarket has entailed bringing home a large plastic-wrapped package filled with boxes of Puffs. That is the way things are.
I woke up at 6:30 this morning. I know I have said that before, but I have not yet said it exactly the way I want to, so I will likely keep saying it until I am satisfied with the telling. I always wake up at 6:30. That is not the complete truth. It amazes me sometimes just how much molding and gingerbread is required to build a picture of the complete truth. The complete truth involves Daylight invokes Daylight Saving time and a footnote that during the winter I wake up at 5:30. Of course, there are additional notes.
Did I mention the color of the light in the sky? Apparently there is more I have to say about this. The color…the colors, I should say. The hint of a wing. Kamama, the quality of being in the sky, of being color in the sky, of living there, like a fish in the air. It is a thing that breaks through from the other side. Watch it and it disappears suddenly, slipping back to where it came from. A patch of bright blue. A spot of red. The soft velvet under wing moving like a thought across your eyes.
But 6:30 in the morning is not such a bad time to wake up. It is early, but not too early. 7:00 would be a better time. The number feels more natural, less forced. But, for me, 6:30 it is. That is when I reach for the pot metal key on the side of the lamp to turn it on. Or when I groan and roll over trying to shake off the last dream as it drains out of the back of my head. It is when my feet hit the floor and I put my head in my hands.
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