27 January 2010

Split Open in Winter -- A Dispatch from Some Summer Nights

What is light?
What is light within?
What is light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet Still?

A lively understandable spirit
once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still.

Theodore Roethke,"The Lost Son," from Words for the Wind

What's been split open--this warm summer night--white curtains blowing in the thick Florida breeze -- is a bone China tea cup, a swift fall from the too tall steps, the ivy growing in the cracks, a tipping point, a toe caught -- the knee bruised and bleeding just a bit. The sun falling as the palms sway, to and fro, toward the ocean and back again. And again.

What is it about summers that always remind me of sweet scraped up tiny knees -- the green too green everywhere, the light going on and on well into the night we used to find ourselves in, when blackness fell too soon, and the cold led us indoors, more so than the darkness than the metallic chill of air, but nonetheless, there plates to be set, dinner to come, night after night, at 6:30, when the lamp light began to glow more brightly, the old red blanket thrown neatly across the old plaid davenport -- a length of comfort coveted for sprawling upon after and before the hand-painted floral plates were covered with lasagna, with greens, with scalloped potatoes, hearts of palm and buttered French bread, the clanging clatter of silver forks soon thrown into the sink.

Miles Davis laments, the light in the kitchen a soft, sweet glow like a candle flame -- and Grandma getting the dishes done, and the glow of television, and the waves of voices full of home, and the hot shower after the beach, and the sand in my small bathing suit, and my skin warm from the sun, and the taste of salt in the air, chlorine in my hair--and the lights all on, rooms occupied with laughter and music -- and the interminable stretch of empty days, and the school year dreaded like a bone dry skeleton of crisp white paper and boys and girls in expensive clothes. And the mockingbird singing in the middle of the night, the morning's teeth lit and waiting.
Sky: Girl in Room: Swimming Pool


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