[working from both ends to catch up with my journals– so if things seem to be appearing haphazardly from months past or suddenly, today, that is why. this is the consequence of emerging from my most recent, and periodically necessary, tuber phase.]
I’m painting my neices’ white dresses red.
I’m visiting my ex-boyfriend’s mother’s kitchen– she’s a russian jewish immigrant and there’s byzantine folk decor on the walls, jewel-red and gold on shining black– it’s a matched set of planters, mirrors and small hanging fountains, and it’s the sound of the waterworks I focus on: how soothing the chorus of trickling water is.
we’re going to board a train– the doors are closing, and my companions hang back while I make the leap– I don’t quite make it before the doors close and the train begins to move forward, picking up speed– I’m wedged in a kind of entryway alcove and hanging on, heart a-beat– I know I need to be careful with my feet, not let them get caught in the wheels or the track and pull me under– I feel weak and unsure I can do what I need to do: reach up for the doors and swing myself inside. I gather a deep breath, calm my heart, and slowly, carfully manage just that– and I am safe inside the train, hurrying along on my way.
there’s been an accident in which someone is killed, and after they’ve taken the body away, I pick up the nose, which is lying on the concrete, having been severed. I wrap it in a couple of paper towels and take it home and put it in the refrigerator in the back bedroom of my parents’ house, which has been set up like a little apartment. but after a couple of days there’s a bad odor that begins to permeate the room, and I realize I have to get the thing buried. I actually don’t really notice the smell too much, living with it, until I invite some friends over and they leave because it stinks. so I go sneaky-scouting with a small shovel around my parents’ back yard in search of a good place to dispose of it. not in any of the gardens, I decide, because they or their dog might dig it up– maybe back along the fenceline behind some bushes… but no, the dog would still be a problem. and then it hits me, the perfect place. back in the corner of the yard stands a rock pile– actually a stack of old paving slates– that I used to climb on to peek over the fence at the neighbors behind– and by this pile there’s an old buried canister for disposing of dog poop, leftover from my childhood, ages past. so I climb up on the stack and pry off the rusted top of the canister and find it full of curled black leaves– perfect. so I start climbing down, but this time go around the tree that’s grown up since I was little and down the far side, which looks nearly like crude steps– only once I put my weight on them, they begin to wobble and threaten to avalanche, me along with them– so I grab a branch of the tree and swing around it, and the sensation of elevation and motion is so refreshing and empowering that I go on effortlessly swooping my way down the bole of the tree.
back in the house I’m suddenly running late for my flight out, and my parents, who are driving me to the airport, won’t let me dawdle. halfway there, I remember the nose in the fridge, and my stomach does a panic-flip. my mind races. before long my parents will smell it and then find it and then, oh lord. I have to do something. we’re driving along the detroit freeways when my father simply disappears– there’s just nobody at the wheel, only my mother in the passenger seat, who turns to me with weird calm and asks, are you about ready to take over? so I hurriedly climb over into the driver’s seat and fix my hands to the wheel and my feet on the pedals. the lanes are windy and a little precarious– beside me a jeep flips onto its side, but I safely maneuver past it. I start explaining to my mom about the nose, how I came by it and how I’d planned to dispose of it and how I need her to take care of it for me when she gets home. unlike my dad, I feel I can confide in her– the only problem is I’m not sure she won’t forget the whole thing as soon as I’ve gone– she’s never been very good at being responsible for things– but to be fair, at least in this case neither have I. I’ve totally flubbed it and am not even sure why I picked up the thing in the first place. in any case, at this point it’s out of my hands– I have a plane to catch.
walking george, I’ve been watching spring do what it’s named for– looking closely at the tender small unfurling leaves that sprout so improbably out of a thing that looks for all the world like a dead stick– suddenly there are living bursts sprung up in irrepressible patches– it’s miraculous. I’ve been paying attention to the way the trees– all of them, the maples and other hardwoods as well as the flowering varieties like redbud and crabapple– flower before they leaf. hanging down from all the branches that arch over my neighborhood streets are clusters of the brightest green tiny flowers, easy to mistake for young leaves, but indeed blossoms. and what does this say to me? that everything is alive that looked dead for so many months– and alive means, even in the tallest and strongest, deepest-rooted trees, to burst out in blossom when the season comes around, to carry in your secret heart the recipe for most delicate and vulnerable expressions– that without making them, lush protective shade can’t be born to protect from summer’s scorch. I too need time to honor the vulnerable, to make the most fragile, unfinished expressions– young, barely formed, but necessary for further growth.