There is a rhythm to the day. The way we move, somnambulant, through the adagio of our morning rituals, those daily acts not seen as rituals at all. Toilet, teeth, ablution, dress. Toast and tea, this communion, body and blood, if you will. No, I won’t.
The bloody computer picks up the pace within. Habituation to this house of endless rooms, windows without walls. A different pulse. Encyclopedic avalanche against which we have no defense. Answers in wait for questions to be asked. Pity the incurious. Then pity the curious.
Wood-winds out there in this place of no weather. Off-shore flow meets gusty wind below the canyon. The newspaper says 81 but outside it is 69. Plenty of time to get it right when the sun comes out as a flute in late afternoon. All day it has fought to pierce the cloud cover. No problem, says the fern. Cello.
The phone has rung seven times by noon. One and done. I no longer budge for the clarinet. We have robo and solicitation calls blocked. There are long pauses in this sedentary ballet, reading the paper or book moves into a silent frenzy as I scribble a blog, another ramble like beating a path, Stravinsky on a zither, through the bush to the edge of a cliff.
Peggy, with antennae up, catches music from other realms and re-composes rhapsodies. She is fluent in some hard-earned, yet unnamed language, she alone speaks with atonal words never having existed before next to one another. This morning I brought her a frog from southern India which cures influenza. She inserted it into a poem about Persephone on sabbatical from Hades and the Tour de France. She has written another Rite of Spring.
There is choreography in our movements as I clear a passage and dodge her walker. Her Baryshnikov poetic leaps still manage somehow to be grounded by two green tennis balls as she scoots from room to room.
The throwing-out of garbage is a highpoint in retired life. One accumulates trash in spite of a circumscribed life. Someday, but not now, I shall clean out the bedroom closet whose sliding door I am fearful of opening imagining a drum roll with cymbal. It will be accompanied by Mose Allison singing, I Ain’t Got Nothin But the Blues. All the clothes we haven’t worn since…. And on the floor those journals we can’t bear to part with. Peggy’s chronicles of our European trips: the Dublin pubs on Bloomsday or that helpful stranger in the rain in Biarritz. How to let go? Baritone sax.
Now the wind is blowing something fierce as if to remind us of wars without end we have accommodated but cannot ignore. A discord of brass and percussion persists in faraway places matched by the screech that lies make here in Washington. Words decomposed. Playing Be Bop, Ellington said, is like playing Scrabble without vowels.
Virginia Woolf called it waves, the constancy of a beat, a repetitive certainty that also carries with it an implicit threat of water eroding the shore. Death and renewal slow dancing. Yes, of course we know all that. The strategy is to make the most of it and eventually let it have its way with the wish for a melody played on a tenor sax.
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