Good morning. It is Sunday again. It is not my
favorite day, but there are parts of it that I like.
Driving to the grocery store with my reusable bags.
I feel useful when I pack up the lettuce and the
blueberries and the bread and maybe this week,
a small carton of ice cream or some chocolate-
covered pretzels “for a treat,” my son will say and I
will say yes even though we have lost the meaning
of the word treat long ago. “Treat is a homophone,”
he might say. He is like that. He likes discovering
homophones and calling out “hey do you know what?”
no matter what thought I am trying to hold in my
own head. It is rarely about homophones. I have been
anxious these days, although less anxious than before.
A quiet, unsettled sense that I am not doing what I
am supposed to do. And I do not mean by that the
grocery shopping or the laundry or the weeding or
taking the car for an oil change or to finally have the
dents and scratches that are starting to rust and let
water in fixed. I don’t mean those things. I do them or
I don’t and we all make it through. Maybe one of us
will have to wear a shirt we don’t want to but no one
is really complaining. The worry is like the
pulses of an electrical storm or like the old
walnut tree outside the window of our bedroom
in the first house we lived together, how they came
raining down in the fall so fast and so hard on the
roof it would wake us some mornings, we would
sit upright we always thought someone was trying
to break in. It is not like that hadn’t happened before.
But my worries. Did I say that we slept with baseball
bats beneath our bed? Not that I could imagine myself
leaping from my bed, grabbing the bat and doing much
of anything more than maybe screaming and crying and
trying to find my phone. Some people are good in crisis
situations and there are crises that I am good in too, but
I don’t think that the threat of physical danger, of violence
is one of them. I mean, am I doing the right things. Am I
spending my time right. My years, my weeks, my days. My
hours. Is this what I should be doing right at this minute I
am so comfortable sitting in my bed. I have a machine
that blows cool air on me when I am too hot. I have a machine
that accepts the taps of my fingers and makes them into
pretty things that I can hold in my hands. A machine carried
me from a dirty courtyard halfway across this planet where I lived
with other children who ate dry crackers and toast and counted softly
in their beds transported me while I slept to the arms of a woman
who braided my hair and held my hand as I balanced along the
low stone wall at the entrance to the park where we threw bits
of bread and crackers for the ducks to eat. She put perfume
behind each ear. She wore pearls. My days are a kind of magic.
On Sundays, after we bring the bags in from the car and put away
all their contents, the jars and the cans and the boxes, in the
afternoon sometimes I will make a big batch of something. Soup
or I will roast beets or carrots. Chop the bitter ends of swiss chard
and bake them with tomatoes until they are tender and sweet and
rich. Maybe I will wash the bath towels. As the light fades, the level
of my worry rises. I miss my mother, although I spent so much of the
years I knew her angry with her and she with me. I miss the person
I wanted her to be. She cooked on Sundays, too. She stewed chicken
with tomatoes. Sausages. Soups with bitter greens. Baked potatoes.
What have I done with these precious hours? These magic days.
I tap my fingers on this machine. I wonder about the people who
were part of my days but are no longer. There are moments when
I want to wrap my hands around them and knead them into dough
small enough for me to swallow them to force them down my throat.
There, I want to say. Stay. Here where I can keep track of you. Don’t
you know how many dangers there are? Walnuts can rain down on
you from the sky and men can leap out at you holding baseball bats
and what will you do then, my loves? Then, what will you do?