Friday night, I take my son out to eat because M. will be home late and we are on our own. I let my son choose where and he picks a place close by, unremarkable. We are led to a wide booth. He slides in and starts drawing with crayons on his paper placemat. The dining room is cavernous. On the dingy papered walls, dozens of framed photographs and prints. They are hung haphazardly without theme or order.
A salad arrives in a plastic bowl, painted to resemble wood. Chunks of iceberg lettuce and shaved carrot. A thick slice of cucumber. I pick at it. My son sings a song he has learned at school. It is about the sun and the stars. He pauses and I clap. It’s not done yet, he says, and so he begins again.
I drag myself to the gym this morning after weeks of lassitude. The gym, much like the church, welcomes back its wayward with bowed heads and knowing smirks.
My heart is not in it. I read, I glance at the television. I look at the glowing screen on the bicycle and it shows my erratic progress.
It’s warm today. Bright sun.
We spend the afternoon at the cafe while our son takes an art class. M. works on a new project and I pretend to write. Instead, I stare at the screen and refresh my twitter feed.
Later, we pick up the boy from class and stop at the park. We sit on a bench and watch while he runs around the base of a tall monument. He climbs up the steps to a low stone wall and jumps down from it. Once, twice, a dozen times. There are piles of fallen leaves all around him, around us. The sun is going down over the river.
At home, I am cleaning off the piles of paper on my desk (advanced procrastination techniques) and I find notes I left to myself from the early summer. I was walking through the garden beds, taking inventory of what needed to be moved:
Two speedwell near back fence. Move?
Giant hosta in back. Divide?
No more columbine!
Maybe 2-3 heuchera
Now that it has grown cold and the days are so short, it is difficult to remember summer. It is difficult to recall the perfume of the long afternoons, the clumps of warm earth I held in my hands.
I start re-reading Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss. Once begun, it is hard to put down. Midway through the book:
The greatest blindness we share, my father and I, is that neither of us knows how angry we are. It’s perhaps because I cannot admit my fury that I don’t see what he hides from himself. And he, long practiced in self-deception, doesn’t see my anger either.
Whatever passions we feel, we call love.
Evening descends. We mill around each other, stacking books, washing dishes, taking out trash. Despite its fullness, despite its pleasures, despite the unseasonable warmth and the bright sun slanting through the bare branches of trees, I am looking for something more from this day. I hover in the doorways. I sit cross-legged on the floor. I walk up and down the stairs waiting for something to happen.
Instead of a happening, I find this from Thunderbird, by Dorothea Lasky:
Why go in cars
after Bernadette Mayer’s translation of Catullus #48
Why go in cars
They can be destroyed
I don’t want to be destroyed by you
I love you and your want
We don’t need cars
Why don’t we sit in a sea of violets
I could kiss you a million times
And never be sick of it
Let’s go sit in some flowers
Let’s sit in a sea of flames
And I will never put the fire
Out of you