Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Before The Ice Age

The old nights were different,
anchored in a small room crowded
with all it seemed you'd ever 
need. A dog in a green chair.
One lamp that gave off nice light.
Answers lined up on one set of shelves;
sounds --answers of a different sort--
huddled together on another.

The black plastic spun all night long,
the miracle of the process a gift
you never took for granted.
The lovely silence as the tone arm
rose slowly and began the graceful
horizontal glide to its cradle.

Then you'd move. Always, though,
a plan for what was next. A list you made
each morning. If there was confusion
it was happy, the warm variety,
open-ended and saturated with wonder.

The static between your ears was then
a kite zagging all night in your skull,
sky writing or just emblazoned with
one thought or idea waiting to be
resolved. Sometimes just a word or image
that would sail so high that you could 
no longer make it out and had to let it go.

Eventually, though, the kite would rattle
back down, beautiful still but blank and not
yet broken, and you would send it back
up to try to stir some more words from the
sky. On really good nights the sky
would be full of kites outlined against
the full moon beneath your hair.

Every summer has a song, and you
remember a year when perhaps a half 
dozen cars would pass by on the late-night 
streets beyond the bug-swarmed screen, 
"Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"  blasting from the
windows of every single one of them.

You would sit up all night through
the old nights, focused, tranced, your
back against the green chair, the dog right
right there behind you, breathing with you. 
A blue-eyed keeper of vigils, creature
of shared routines and rituals. 

You believed your brain was a rock tumbler.

Many nights you would take one of the
shoe boxes full of index cards with scrawled 
notes, bar napkins, photographs, business
cards, quotes, birthday cards or letters
you had found in books, and other
strange things you had clipped or saved.

These things you would feed like driveway
gravel into the rock tumbler to let them roll
around all night just to see if they would emerge
as material beautiful or interesting enough
to make a necklace for the one you loved.

The one you loved, who was sleeping
while you were flying your kites, the one 
who was the only one you could possibly 
imagine wanting to make anything beautiful for. 
Ever. The one who would get up each morning 
and immediately sit down to read whatever 
tangle of words the night had left you with,
and who, doing so, sometimes wept.

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