Sunday, June 18, 2006


I wake too often lately cursing. Cursing the sun, the dirty dishes in the sink, the old catfood in the bowls, the upcoming workday. Then cursing the traffic, the potholes, the radio news, and any fellow human with the misfortune to cross my path. This is the bedrock of my speech. When all else fails, and it will, they will remain, the horrible words that, like linguistic cockroaches, can survive even the armageddon of a dominant hemisphere, middle cerebral artery embolus.

I've been cursing in the kitchen, in the car, in the clinic and even in the meadow as swarms of mosquitos take advantage of the time it takes to chose an aperture and focus to whine past my ear, settle on my skin and feast. I've been cursing the summer, the heat, the sweat, the bugs; I've been cursing the merry joggers with their spandex and their I-pods, and all their beachgoing, poolsiding, cook-out having, pina colada swilling, frisbee tossing compatriots.

I've been cursing all the swarms of summer -- gnats, flies, shoppers, motorists, moviegoers, vacationers, parishioners -- cursing all of them and their incessant humming, whining, buzzing, honking, guffawing, hymning and opining. Especially the opining --

Shy ? Well, newcomers often find the coffee hour difficult. Unless, of course, they're holding a baby. That seems to break the ice.

And we never call these meetings retreats; we call them advances, because we are always moving forward.

Empty armed, I retreat. I squat in the rag and bone shop of the spleen.

What am I really cursing ? Could it be time ? Ordinary, old time, intrinsic as a membrane ? That matrix in which one's parents become frail and one's child still can't find its way ? Time, which saps the flesh of will and hunger, leaving only apathy, weariness and, oh, yes, curses ?

Similis factus sum pellicano solitudinis,
factus sum sicut nycticorax in domicilio.
Vigilavi et factus sum sicut passer solitarius in tecto.

Pelican in the desert, nightowl in the ruins, lone sparrow on the housetop --

if only I could confine my words to the scriptures written on the wings of certain golden beetles ! Instead, from the dung brain, spurt curses, curses, curses, curses -- curses in the morning, curses at high noon, curses in the evening, curses at night, a whole diabolical office of curses.

Shall we try a prayer ?

Thank you, Lord, for this moment of reprieve. It is like the moment just after the panicked squirrel has dodged my car, and just before he falls under the wheels of the car in the next lane. It is like the interlude of silence before the dull, slapping thuds of whirled animal and my own screams, wordless now, vocalization more primitive than curses, the sonic stuff out of which all language is made, wind through tremulant taut bands, wind over the face of the deep, o fiat lux -- Mama, I love you, help me, O God, my God.

Or a poem ?

Oh mayfly, green ephemeral, wide-eyed friend --
let's shelter here awhile under these leaves,
you with your day, me with my several years,
allotted goods, arguable and dear,
but hardly waterproof. The rain picks up.
Or is it aspen wind, the quaking sound
of texts and mimicries reminding us
to pull the world down with us when we drown ?

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