Among The Thistles

How can one sleep with a moon like this?  It’s so early it’s not even early, it’s late.  I mean early, you’re not up yet, not awake yet, slurps of hot liquid with eyes closed, fan of the mind humming, oscillating between two levels of consciousness, tendons shortened, digestive organs finishing up their work. 

Ten-thousand pinpricks of light still glimmer overhead, and you’re already out walking.

Hormones have been secreting, cells have been forming in your bone marrow, the liver is a tireless magician, the sublime workhorse of your heart has been laying low, half-drunk old man in a hammock.  And, like a gathering wind in the distance, love rises. 

It rises above lies and dictations, the sound of the mind.  It rises above the texture of your words, the swirling ether of your thoughts.  It blows among the thistles, it blows through your whole life.

A love so impossibly vast, unbearable its confinement.

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Genesis

Good morning swollen and veiled moon, trees whose blossoms are about to erupt. Good morning sun, disc of fire piercing the place where stars froze and crackled in monumental quiet only moments before.

Good morning to the owl’s hushed song sliding outward from a deep pocket among the boughs, to the banshee-wailing of belts beneath the hood just after the key is turned.

Good morning to beets and barley, to salt and hot liquid, to nuts and apricots, to the mottled memory of cloves, cardamom, dark chocolate and red wine.

Good morning to the engine of life on earth, its whir and hum, its clatter and bang at counterpoint with a stillness too vast to contemplate, to certain death and the inexorable quality of passing time, to the eternity of now, the inhale of a day pinned between all that came before and all awaiting their uncertain turn, the exhale of night in its thrilling position as a frame for things that hardly seem possible in the day.

Good morning to the flat concrete jewel of glistening pavement, to the staircase with fingers sliding along its banister, to city apartments and country homes, to dresses and neckties, rickety old elevators, one-night affairs and decades of longing.

Good morning to those who never leave us, to those who never stay, to those who never come to us when we want them, then come unbidden in some secret hour with vanity and thirst, desire and hunger, tired hands, worn-out knees, blurry vision.

Good morning to rain, smoke, wooden tables, the cosmic weight of ourselves that we drag with us everywhere, inflammation, air pressure, fish and mango in a bowl, burning torches, the smell of the sea, meteor showers.

Good morning to our bodies drawn close together, to you tough as mountain-bones, to me with my carved face, to Spanish moss along an orange clay road, to shoe-boxes of old photographs, to hope and surrendered dreams, to love pursued or left alone, fulfilled or unrequited, to the lullaby of a train going any direction you want it to.

Induction

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.