Yesterday morning I got up and went to work. By 6:30 I had ten pounds of orzo rolling at a gentle boil in two large pots of salted water with a bit of olive oil, stirring often with a huge wooden spoon, rubbing its head against the bottom of the pots every two minutes. Left untended, orzo has a tendency to settle and stick. Once it sticks, it begins to scorch, infusing the entire batch of pasta with a burnt odor and flavor.
Once the orzo had been drained, shocked in ice water, drained again, lightly oiled and put away to be mixed with other ingredients later, I got a rondeau of risotto going. You know the deal: arborio, onions, butter, wine, vegetable stock, beat out the starch, yaddah-yaddah. While I hunched over the wide shallow French-style pot and stirred the Italian-style rice porridge, the world kept turning, exploding in my imagination with its ten-thousand things.
That was yesterday. This is today. So this morning I ask myself, is there a way? Is there a way I can be here, in this place, a little easier? And still wanting to know everything without needing to know anything? I pray those who need rest will get it. I pray those who need food will have it. I hope those who struggle to lift their heads might find that quiet strength. I hope those who crackle with electric energy may continue to burn long into their nights and days, wrapped in the cloak of their own naked fire.
Am I half asleep? How does this come to me? It comes to me as I pass stacked boxes of bananas at dawn, as I pass young women running with braided hair, heaps of black garbage bags, tired men collecting cans, dogs, hipsters, strollers being pushed, buses, bicycles, a Dominican barbershop. It comes to me as if I have plucked at the edge of a web, and the creature at its heart is New York, and the creature has woken while I move along one of its sticky strands.