In Writing

An Apologia for Taking Things for Granted

When the finite dimensions of being alive
light up suddenly as they do from time to time—
when the famous movie critic dies, when
the office across the hall is one day humming
with gossip and florescence, the next day dark—
I resolve again to see everything
in Technicolor, to hold each click of a switch,
each pollen-thick day in my hands and know
its true weight. And for an hour, an evening,
I do. The earth trills and glows. The buzz
of the neighbor’s hedge clippers a rich contralto,
the red of the tomato on the counter shocking luck—
how is it that I get to see something that red,
and eat it, too? But soon the walls—speckled
with flung bananas from my son’s breakfast,
scratched by the gone dog I loved—begin
to swell with their own miracles and my heart
begins its galloping, terrified and nearly detonating
with gratitude it can’t contain. The afternoon
is suddenly too gold, too mote-misted
to comprehend. My husband’s question of spinach
or broccoli with dinner is a yawning crevasse
into which I fall headlong—the possibility of choices,
the greens of the vegetables, the crunch, the wonder
of appetite. Yes, I forget my expiring license,
my clicking jaw, but I forget, too, the pleasure
of a meal that is only and entirely a meal.
The insects and lizards and navy blue sky and moon
like a caricature of itself gang up and close in
until everything is blurred and muted, the street
a rinsed canvas, only my blood thudding in my ears.
Of course I wish I could properly worship
the nectarine. Of course I wish I could
give central heating its due. But I’ve learned
my lesson. If I can keep on half-hearing
crickets, at least I can keep on hearing them.

From The Tornado Is the World (University Press of New England/Saturanalia Books 2016)

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