A Day

Restless hours pass. A vine has attached itself to the mesh of the window screen. Its young leaves, translucent with light, throw off a green aura. The world at large is separate of this, further back, pale and hazy. It, with its receding neighborhoods, cannot be real, not like the clear lines of my room. There is something more immediate about the glass with dust and light falling through it. The dust floats in the light, the light in my eye.

At the beginning of spring a scrap of paper can take on the appearance of a diaphanous leaf, and there are other illusions as well. Days lengthen. In the mud there are turtle eggs, sleeping beetles, and careless seeds, all of which will come out when the surface cracks and soaks again as winter boils away. Everything is set into motion. Blood thickens and clouds rise higher, lighter. The snow is reclaimed, crystals buzzing hotter into gasses that climb invisibly, building endless white towers that traverse the land, rising, falling, scattering, rebuilding again. Litter tumbles down the hillsides, filling every gully and crevice. There is no end to the treasures that can be found; months of nothing which washed clean become claimed memories. No one is immune to this more or less secular law, the shifting magnetism of organic earth.

I watch people stumble through a labyrinth of streets, struggling against time. A silent wind moves the smaller branches of catalpa trees across the street. This movement is my only understanding of the wind. The further I look into the world the further it moves from me. I watch a young woman bend down to tie her shoe.  She takes her time, seems distantly aware of something. Her expression says that she is looking for something, expectant. What does she wait for? I watch her slip down the road, drifting beneath motionless clouds. I leave my room, the windows, and try to follow her. I run up Neville Street. I come to the corner and stop. I can hardly see for the sunlight. The streets consume me in a refracted diffusion of light and warmth. I am assailed by the quick flash of light and shadows off buildings and cars. The woman has vanished into this chaotic pattern of black and white, down one of these streets. I do not try to follow. I am afraid that I will become lost in all this sudden illumination.

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It is the shadow which draws attention to the light, more than light itself can. I return to the house but do not go in. On the shaded porch I am safe. Across the street the bare limbs of catalpa trees insinuate a measurable sky. From the uppermost branches fall long wayward shadows, dividing the steady compass of the sun into an irregular, arboreal negative. It will not be long before these branches fill with sprouting leaf buds vying for the light. Perhaps I will still be here to witness it, me on my shaded porch, they on their sunny branch. The young leaf bud knows what light is, moves towards it, is filled with it, consumes it and thrives. A plant is sensual and witless, whereas man is perceptive and critical. Man sees darkness as more than a void of light, but something equal and comparable to it. It can be entered into and felt on its own terms. It too can be sensual and attractive.

I fall asleep and the sun is almost down when I awake. I have been hoping for other distractions. Tonight I will feel freer. I will go into the city and seek amusements. I will be awake and aware. The night’s pleasures are brief but on the other side of time. Perceived for only a moment, these experiences go on forever, caught and conflated with the psyche, as murky and prickly as the night wood we navigate.

SM

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