Friday, April 20, 2012

What the Living Do

What the Living Do
by Marie Howe

 "Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down
 there.  And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have
 piled up waiting for the plumber I still haven't called.  
This is the everyday we spoke of.

It's winter again:  the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn 
it off. For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag 
breaking, I've been thinking:  This is what the living do.  And yesterday, hurrying
along those wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my
wrist and sleeve, I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is
it.  Parking.  Slamming the car door shut in the cold.  What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up.  We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We
want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then
more of it. But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the 
window glass, say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a
cherishing so deep for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that
I'm speechless: I am living.  I remember you." 

I feel close to life AND death here--very immediate this landscape.  Each day we awaken and surrender to it, especially the clogged drains, the frozen pipes, the tussles with french bureaucracy, the death watch beetle in the attic, the omnipresent feeling of never being understood.  We are struck dumb by the dwindling exchange rate; by the discovery that a farmer one field over is using Monsanto products; by the news that  42,000 Plane trees, the sentinels who have watched over the Sun King Louis IV's, Canal du Midi, the oldest and longest manmade waterway since it began in Toulouse, the Pink City, in 1667, are being attacked by a fungus.  They are dying...They will be burned down, removed and replaced in the next 20 years.

But then we are struck even dumber by all that beauty wrapped in a taco of fragility; by the Cukoo birds in the forest wooing their mates right now; by the Percheron colt and his donkey sidekick lolling merrily on their backs in the emerald green fields; by the jardinere who leaves the first cut of grass till late in the season, saving the dandelions for the bees who've had a tough winter, and by the way we are growing old together in this country not of our origin.  We get to watch it all while cherry blossoms fall like pink snowflakes, sticking to our silly heads in this eternal spring.

                                        For Lisa, John, Richard & Deborah
                                  William Blake Tarot - Death & Transformation

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