It has come to this. We’ve experienced thirteen days that shook the world. Tectonic plates have shifted. The air is noxious. Saying President Trump has me gagging. I require three Heimlich maneuvers to expel the syllables. To regain a semblance of sanity I need to in-dwell, retreat from the noise, and re-center myself.
Here I am at the breakfast table. Today’s paper is being scrupulously un-read. It sits at the base of a vase containing yellow tulips, now seven days old, in full erection, bursting their incandescence like the bulbs they are. I had bought them still folded and now the petals are open wide like a parched throat having found a spring. It must be the sugar water I fixed for them or maybe they just enjoy our conversation over Handel’s Water Music.
In my Trump-free state I can see the still-life of our table. The yellows connecting from flowers to banana to cereal box of Golden Grahams. I think the carefully arranged clutter would challenge a Dutch master. The bowls, cups and glasses, milk pitcher and melon, utensils, place mats, sugar bowl and napkins. I almost forgot the yellow Splenda.
Could even Rembrandt capture it all? And would he need to? He would find the pattern in the jumble the way Rauschenberg would see it as collage or Pollack might give it a splatter with a yellow streak. It was all invisible to me until just now.
Outside the window leaves hang from some nameless tree. I must find out from either Roger, my dear landscape architect friend of many years, or from the landlord who lords over his plantings around the building rather lovingly. Confucius said to first know the names of trees. I’ve gotten this far without that knowledge but I wish I could respect the tree with its proper caption. I wrote poetry for a long while without the nomenclature. My subject was my ignorance of such things. As a kid trees were called, 2nd base or the goal line.
I should also know the names of birds. Then I could report which one it was that just chased away a crow four times its size. As Paul Harding reminds us in his wonderful 2009 book, Tinkers, the natural state of Nature is strife. The hummingbird is constantly in flight from predators. Does the cut worm forgive the plow? Adversity drives adaptation. The bough struggles for a sliver of sun.
We need to make peace with it all. Resistance is exhausting but so is it exhilarating and sometimes, as now, necessary. Wait, I seem to be veering back to the unmentionable. I shall not go there. This page is my therapeutic ramble away from the fray.
Back to the table. Yesterday I bought a melon. If it were a cantaloupe I’d be cutting it into perfect quadrants. But it isn’t; it’s a honeydew. I’m getting adept at cutting it into equal sextants or even octants. I didn’t know these words till I looked them up. It’s the least I can do in compensation for not learning the glossary of life outside our window. The large honeydew is my act of optimism. I expect it will be ready for consumption in two weeks. I hope to still be here.