It Is Always Thursday

I find that meaningfulness slips away, in this strange and timeless time.

Timeless time?

It is not just that every day is Thursday—nose still to the grindstone but you’re flagging, looking forward to some future easing of the tension. It is more than that.

It is the abrupt unmooring from all of the things that anchor us to the continuum.

At the beginning of the initial lockdown period at the end of March, I turned off my alarm clock. I figured, why?

These pandemic days have their own flow. I float from duty to duty. Responsibility to responsibility. To the child. To my home. To the dog. To my work. To my body and mind, if I still can drum up some oomph.

I believed, at the beginning, that I would have so. much. time. To be creative. To engage in something new. To do something different.

But I find that much of that extra time is spent in a sort of uneasy repose.

There are regularities, to be sure. Every morning, there is coffee with the New York Times crossword (270 solved in a row, as of this morning) and word puzzles. There is the feeding of the dog and child. There is a single record, the first side spent in general straightening, the second spent watering plants (Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ this morning).

(These things are necessary. The only real routine I can commit to, for now.)

Then the workday begins.

It sounds as though that’s a late start, but even without the alarm clock, I never sleep later than 6, so I am almost always working by 9, which is also when school begins. Band is first.

The flute warmup sounds like morning.

The workday is far less straightforward. I don’t try to cram it all into an 8-hour (or less) time slot in order to finish and get home. I work until I lose focus, and then I do something else. Walk the dog. Bake cookies. Hang some laundry up to dry. And then I work some more. And maybe nap. And work. And cook.

(No doom scrolling. No doom scrolling. No doom scrolling.)

There has been a lot of doom scrolling.

There also has been a lot of sleep, at all times of the day. And often I am asleep well before 10 o’clock. More than often.

Beyond the formless days, there are so few Events to mark the past eight or more months. So very few interactions to work their way around my head. So few meaningful and useful provocations. So little stands out, and the few happenings that do adhere seem almost a dream, compared to the nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day grind.

The timeless time.

Meaningfulness slips away, and I grasp for every sense of Something More that I can get.

Yesterday morning, I opened the front door, and a red-breasted nuthatch flew so close I could feel the air it stirred. It alit on a branch of the gnarled lilac that soldiers on by the front porch.

I think I said, “Oh my!”

And then, “Well, hello.”

We contemplated each other for a minute, then simultaneously grew nervous, and it flew away.

About 20 minutes later, as I was walking the dog around the Marsh, two deer marched right out of the firebreak and came straight at me, as though they knew I would not hurt them. As though I were one of them. Unwary. The dog, a good companion for Outside, stayed very still and quiet, as always. Watchful, but unobtrusive.

They startled to something behind that I could not see, and passed us closely. Again, so close I could feel the air they stirred. The hairs stood up on my arms.

These are the Events now. These minute interactions with the immediate neighborhood, and most of it not human.

This is what to grasp and hold onto like driftwood amid these waves of timeless time.

Until there is some shore, or the waves pull us below, this will have to do.

Last

We are small astronomers, and it is our last sunny day.

There is a chill creeping in, these mornings.

You have outside chores.

I sweep. I water plants. I hang the laundry out on the line. It is my method in the madness.

But I think I get it now.

(I do not want to.)

I do.

Do not test this theory against our darkness.

Keep us in the light. Make us last.

How we make it a constant amidst the ebb-and-flow.

Let the fall take us, as it does.

We can take it.

the quarantine cocktail project (unfinished)

old fashioned. old fashioned. hot toddy. old fashioned. gold rush . gin and tonic . mudslide . martini . bloody mary . boulevardier . blarney stone . rosita . white russian . i dream of jeanie martini . maiden’s prayer . mexican madras . black russian . blue margarita . ruby martini . hot jamaican . rum swizzle . bahama mama . gold martini . cosmopolitan . white spider . algonquin . monkey gland . old fashioned. gorilla tit . love potion . french twist . hairy navel . blue shark . heatwave . pink fetish . pina colada . grass skirt . screaming orgasm (a disappointment, frankly) . heatwave. planter’s punch. la conga . woo woo . sex on the beach . blue monday . honolulu lulu . russian quaalude . heatwave. old san juan . french martini . blue hawaiian . bay breeze . gin sling . spiced rum coco martini . matador . bourbon a la creme . florida special . tidal wave . gin and sin . classic daiquiri . antibes . acapulco . west indian punch . pinerito . kentucky mule . heatwave . woo woo

Hard Won

It is a difference of degree.
Love or loneliness.
Once I would run to tell you.
But now is not like before,
but before that.

And I would share the air with you.
I still would.
And I am still leaning into it,
but the blade is dull now.
Still, it’s what we’ve got.
And it’s what we’ve got to do.

And what we’ve got to do is work at peeling back the layers:
how we have been defined
by something that comes from outside —
over and again —
some lightness or darkness that was never our own.

Here, alone,
it is getting easier to see.
Day after day with my hands in the dirt,
there is only the witness.

And you were never real.
And neither was I.

Inner Distant

1.

What have we done?
And what will we do now,
in the face of its vast
indifference?

2.

For now,
we are unformed matter —
a million million chrysalides,
formless form.
We are in the in-between,
reduced to basic need.
Survive.

3.

Let something worthy emerge
from the seed,
the cocoon of this inward descent.
Each to each —
one day may we simply take flight,
and follow the sun’s tireless instruction.

Please, oh you gods.
Let it be so.

Hunter’s Moon

An idle infection —
the cyclical skewed

as we look for those continuities that sustain us.

Are your sins of omission dishonest,
after all?

It’s hard to wake when the season sings sleep.

I would settle for the truth of it,
now.
If only you could own your part.

I don’t tend toward irrationality.
And the illusion of it formed by this half-truth
is a weight.

conversation

(after)

((after that))

October came and I was something different again.
An aster —
a sweet that abides the fall.

And there is that moment of —
(hope is yet too strong a word) —
of light.

Of light,
and faith in life.

To a varying degree,
we grow a guard.
But the singing wire between matter and matter —
what matters —
never ceases.

Eternal throb and hum.

You need to let something go.
Cast off that self you’ve collected.
Give it to the wind

like the cottonwoods their leaves.

(You don’t have to share this with the world.)

The night is the night.
It falls.

But today I am content
to sit beside you and wait.

(prayer)

I
Follow the path of light
backwards
from where it draws the eye
above the front door —
through the tiptop of the stairwell,
through the hallway,
to the bedroom window
in the back of the house —

through the atmosphere,
the ether,
and the millions of miles of intervening space —

to the sun;
and a subatomic process
I can barely comprehend.

The incomprehensible,
macro or micro,
let us be awed.

II
They called the desire to comprehend,
original sin,

III
when not to organize life
so as to live in constant genuflection
to the continual stretching toward
and bending in
and deepening under
and untangling of —

that
seems the true wrong.

(let us pray)
May the Mother judge and deem us worthy.
May we make ourselves so before the light goes out.

And Yet

It’s not
as though
I’ve nothing
left
to say.

I get distracted —
sideways addiction,
the silent,
obsessive considerations.

And I am
all too easily
knocked from my feet.

The finding
and finding
and finding.

Again.

So I will eat a bowl of cherries
because
I want to eat a bowl of cherries.
And I will drink water in a blue glass
because
I want to drink water in a blue glass.

Again.

And yet,
here we are —
bedeviled with impending judgement

(and the still-warm eastward-moving sun).

And yet,
here I am.
And look —
the goldenrod is still just beginning.