“And when it reached the open door
love itself was gone.”
~ Leonard Cohen
At the tree park I can hear the high school game. At home I can hear it. It’s night and September and I’m sweating.
The crowd chants together in boosts, along with drums.
I carry three squares of organic 80 percent dark, a handful of almonds, a glass of coconut milk and my silver air lap top into the studio for the first time. I can write here.
Last week a large woman on her bike rode toward me. She smiled so hugely. Her body spilled over the seat and arms puffy compared to handle bars. I smiled back and wept for the next three blocks. She rides South and I, North.
Teresa writes me from Afghanistan where she is on vacation helping children and families become sustainable. Teresa represents me pro bono. When we met at Starbucks eight months ago she said pro bono and I asked her what it meant. Free. she said. For the benefit of the people I read.
It’s final, official, the dissolve, she writes. I ask a friend what happens now, and she says in a week I’ll get a letter in the mail. It will say the original agreement is irreparable. The next day I receive an attachment from the court in my inbox. I don’t click on the attachment.
(Pear. The word has a pear)
If you saw me at the grocery store and you asked, how are you Katharine, I might talk about the dissolve. I wouldn’t tell you, I didn’t click the attachment.
Something I was building inside me is coming surface. I started making it when I was small, a child.
I’m doing it, I say to myself as I pump air into tires, press the 10 digits into phone to sign up for the family registry, tug strings to raise blinds in the second-floor shrine room downtown. I follow my dogs around with small bags made from corn starch and say, do it. And when they do, I tell them how they have accomplished something.
The band is playing as if it’s 1946. A cheering song— like after the war. Maybe someone won, and they’ll be going home.
Both dogs walk into the studio, find a meditation cushion, turn in circles, sigh and sleep and twitch as they sleep. Chloe rests her head on a cushion and Jake extends his arms over the giraffe toy.
The workers tore four layers of shingles off and now the new roof sits on the house with no gutters. Nothing to catch rain. If it does rain the rain will fall straight.
In the dream I was driving a student around. His idea of hot-springs before catching a plane was unrealistic. I tried to explain this. As I wake I wonder what instructions from the dream I should follow. What does return home mean now that everything is facing a new direction.
Now the crowd sounds dispersed. They are breaking up I think.
Oh no, they are still with it. Thumping the stands with their shoed feet.
(Waterlily. I whisper, as a counter-pose to the thumping)
Thursday the same student as in my dream was hanging around in the classroom as I unplugged the speaker. I was talking with someone else and he drifted near. Then away. He wants to talk, nothing in particular. I have to say yes, because of being the teacher. I want to say, damn it George, we just spent so long together last night in the dream. I have things to accomplish.
Oh the crowd— chanting again, a name I think. It has an up and down rhythm.
I wrote with a group of mothers last week. I was the oldest and I have no child. They wrote about longing and desire and hot sex and cold sex. I wrote about the roof and the hackberry tree in our back yard. It shades house and yard. It waits for spring snow to be done and then grows leaves. It knew where to grow because it heard water. Tanner, the arborist, said he loved the hackberry and that this one has rot in its middle. It could kill someone.
Oh now marching music and cheering all together.
I am slowly reading a huge book of essays. Now it’s Emerson’s essay, Nature. “Words are finite organs of the infinite mind. They cannot cover the dimensions of what is in truth. They break, chop and impoverish it…The right action seems to fill the eye and be related to all nature.”
The chanting now has a rhythm of 4 equal short words, chanted twice. Now the crescendo of high voices and shrieks and the marching band.
My new housemate washes his glass with a coating of bubbles, walks into the hall with a cord dangling from his ear, watches movies with his girlfriend, Carla, who lives in Mexico and makes 7 dollars a day but now she quit. He has tremendous holes in his earlobes, smokes on the curb, out front, and speaks about connection, responsibility, philosophy, art and nature. When he goes to his next place and I write, housemate wanted, I will say, All genders OK. Smoke outside OK. Any age.
The crickets are still going. I hear them in the silence between the crowd’s voices.
I am teaching 12 classes each week. The drumming teacher after me says the animals are confused. The plants are confused. The sun isn’t confused.
I try not to say anything I’ve said before. But I do.
I say find your breath. I say feel the ground. (I don’t say, Put your mouth where your money is. Lock the sheep in the pasture. Unplug the emphasis. Water the fields and tend the water.)
The hackberry grew where it did because it listened to the sound of water and it knew that it needed water. Now it’s growing over Megan and Josh’s roof, away from its injury.
After the smiling large woman, I rode past the healing massage place and heard crickets on the speakers and then there are actual crickets from nature. Cyber cricket meets crickets. Does this confuse the crickets?
My mother leaves a message on my phone. She took three alive mice to the cemetery in their traps and released them. She feels successful. She says, call me sometime. As if I didn’t talk with her for an hour yesterday.
The cars swoosh by and the drums go boom boom/and the crickets song goes round.
So many couples split up, I say to a student before my Friday Yoga class.
Not me she says. We are so happy. In high school we found each other.
The neighbors went to Hawaii and the other neighbors hung lights around the hot tub.
I pick apples from the ground and cut out the good parts— place them in a small stainless- steel pot with water and cinnamon and one cardamom seed.
Janet hugs me in the hall. She prepares her guitar like some do a piano. She wears beautiful clothing that both drapes and hugs. Janet gave a house to her x for a year. Ethie hugs me in the hall. We talk about the high from our classes. How it is still good.
Now the crowd is booing!
On the radio the story teller asks us to think what the story is we tell. Are you the hero saving the day or do you trip up like a human.
A student said during movement improv alone and together flips back and forth. I got chills (in my right arm and face). He was figuring it out. He never heard of Shunryu Suzuki Roshis’ famous, not one not two. Then I said, Not One, Not Two and the room felt high for a moment, as if we all began to shout with joy and stomp the bleachers. Students opened their small books and scribbled something, I am not sure but assume they wrote, not one, not two.
Now there is quite a vibrant tune playing but I was not there to catch it and put it to the paper right away.
I was resting with dogs. Jake was licking my face. Chloe went completely to another cushion where I put a small rug for her woven in India. Green and white.
I think maybe the sports fans are going home. I haven’t heard anything from them. Oh! I am wrong. Now there is music. But it is faint. Oh, and more cheering. They were quiet for so long.
Like a long Japanese movie I think it is over but then I read on the screen, 10 years later…
I recognize the marching tune. I wonder if the people are tired of shouting.
I find patterns, make stuff up. It spills over the handlebars constantly. The pattern of art making.
In no way do I feel the cheering is for me. It is beside me, down the street from me. Then I pretend they are cheering for me. For my small accomplishments. For putting a jade plant in a bigger pot and pressing the soil down with tips of my fingers. For carrying the heavy pot into my housemate’s room. The broken bits of pottery at the bottom of the pot.
Here comes a lively tune, with syncopation and brass.
I smell something burning. It could be toast in the house or fire from Southern California. And where is the crowd sound? Maybe it’s over. Maybe people are going home, satisfied.
Oh, but there. A whistle out of a mouth and the swoosh of cars and the long train horn. A swatch of the Springsteen song—about a girl he loved, long ago, named Wendy.
~ o ~