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Journal Scraps: Friday Morning

8:26am

This morning’s garish sunlight glares off of my neighbor’s east wall, making the blue siding on her house look gray, filling the room where I sit with reflected light.

Earlier: cool air sifting through my ragged blue-green plaid shirt and the dew still pebbling the grass blades and glossing the tree limbs when I stumbled out the back door, down the damp deck steps and across the yard to unlock the gate and put the trash bin out by the alley. Because, in this household’s vocabulary, it’s “garbage day.” Sounds promising, doesn’t it? A sense of purpose at 7 a.m., ha ha.

A line I’ve had in my head since last Sunday: I want to drive into the desert far enough to lose my name. What’s there, at the vanishing point, where the two shoulders of the road meet, always so far ahead? (I try to avoid images like this that have been over-used; but for some reason these days I’m picking around at the difference between the visual appearance, and the ultimate mathematical truth, that two parallel lines never meet.)

I want those who love me to try to understand who I am, not who they want me to be. And I want to gain the courage to speak my (subjective)truth and to tell those I love what I need. And what I don’t. And to do same for them. But overall, to listen more and speak less. So much noise around. And it keeps coming between us.

I want my old dog Apollo to not get any older. He doesn’t get fired up about the garbage truck coming down the alley anymore (though he is always up for a good walk); I’m worried that it might be as much about hearing loss as much as his being lazy, or “stubborn,” in his old age. He’s asleep on his bed (a kid’s sleeping bag folded into a square) in the next room; I can hear his paws shake and rustle the fabric as he runs in a dream, breathing fast for a few seconds, then slowing down. I wish I could see what he’s chasing.

Last night I dreamed I was alone, walking down into a “holler” with a lantern. The dark kept getting darker, the silence louder. The less I could see, the more I could hear. My light went out.

Smell from memory: morning recess, the honeysuckle growing on the playground’s rusty fence at Sunset Elementary, in Shreveport, where I attended 4th and 5th grades. We’d pick the flowers off one at a time, pull out the pistil, putting the drop of sweet nectar on our tongues. While learning adult language from one another, this would keep us occupied the entire recess period. 

Another, more general but location-specific: the overpowering, gaudy perfumes of jasmine and sweet olive hanging in the air in the neighborhoods of New Orleans. My nose twitches just thinking about it. In a good way. Though I’m allergic to just about everything green that grows.

Smell of my grandmother’s butane cigarette lighter, and the drifting white smoke from a freshly-lit Doral, filling the interior of her big yellow Buick, the one with white leather bench seats. Me in the front, beside her as she drives.

Faulkner: “The past is never dead; it’s not even past.”

Beck: “The past is a cancelled check.”

So which is it? Likely: both.

Now the garbage truck is coming down the alley. I can hear the tumble and bounce of the freshly emptied bins hitting the ground, the hydraulics on the truck compressing the load. Shouts of men, and dogs in uproar. The truck moving up a few more feet.  A rhythm to all this, without time signature. While Apollo sleeps.

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