Friday, June 17, 2016

the geography of yearning

Living on the edge of leaving is too painful an activity.
Even ordinary, stupid activities of daily living are time-stamped.
My showers are numbered, I realize, with a shock.

I cut some of the Irish seed bread that JPP puts out in the kitchen, and I thought of how too much of my time has been spent in that kitchen, and how many mornings I have greeted the world looking out the window. The maple tree that marks the seasons for me is dancing lightly in the June breeze, and swaying as it catches the light. The train rushes by as always. I have looked out that window into the darkness of a winter morning, into the light dusk of a March morning, into the twilight before sunset, and into the cloudy Manhattan midnight. I have marked the seasons in that kitchen. The seasons of the world outside, and the seasons of my body.

There are a preponderance of dead baby birds on the sidewalk on my walk to work. It's a puzzling mystery; where are they coming from? Are the vibrations of the train knocking all the baby birds out of their nests? Perhaps the neighborhood cat is particularly active this year. She's a sleek little feline, dodging between parked cars and into open garages. I call to her, frequently, hoping to scratch behind her little ears. Perhaps I am attempting to befriend a murderer.

There is a moon over Manhattan that the tree in our backyard obfuscates. Leaving, like tattooing, is a painful art. I am distressed about the part of me that has decided to leave what seems so incredibly good: friends gathered around a backyard table with beers, or gathered together on gchat, in various workspaces, knowing that we are just a quick subway ride away. This whole city--our backyard--which we can roam it at our pleasure.

Leaving New York for bumfuck Indiana might seem like leaving the glamorous, complicated, sophisticated life of the Big City for the simple pleasures of a small town. Leaving New York, however, is leaving something simple and sweet, it's leaving what has the comfort and warmth of a small town. It is choosing complication, and something more complex than the sweet small town comfort.

Flying between trees, the starlings are super quarrelsome this morning. Several, perched on the fence by the projects, cackle at one another, their feathers raised from perturbation. Underneath them, several bars of fence down, there is a little sparrow hiding underneath the iron grate. She is an exquisite creature. Her eyes are bright and intelligent, without the avian glaze of the starlings. She has a nearly violet-colored little triangle of a beak. Her body is shaped like the curve of my thumb. The detailing of her feathering is glorious and infinitely fascinating. I want to pick her up.

I squat down on my calves, and I say (out loud); hello. She responds with silence, and an interested stare. There is no animal fear in her eyes. She seems calm, safely tucked under the iron fence. She is so much smaller than I am, yet I feel the gap between us closing, as I bend down to greet her.

So very rarely do we open up the shutters in our eyes and let them be the windows to our souls. But when we do, it is powerfully palpable. I am not an expert in the souls of animals. But, looking into that sparrow's eyes, I felt a trill of recognition run through me. The eyes of the sparrow reminded me of when I look into a friend's eyes, really listening to them, when I look into the eyes of a child, when I look into the eyes of someone who is caught off guard and smiling.

She hopped away, with a small chirp.

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