As I stumble about amidst the beauty of the trees' network of nearly naked limbs, modestly dotted with birds against skies of a grey mixed of oranges and purples, lit from below by the glowing boxes, I am often filled with a heart-breaking nostalgia for the way things are.
I built a tiny hut in my mind To live in briefly in the backyard of my brain where neurons flash rich complicated colors just before they fail and fall. But, intruder thoughts in Giant gas-guzzling vehicles Their flabby arms covered with Tattoos of large muscles Came by and broke it all to pieces. Squished the exotic fruits Set fire to the drying leaves So flashed and flew in panic Before a grey ungraceful fall Now I meditate in the embers and ashes It's warmer, anyway In a way.
— B. Chern, sukkhot 2020
I had another dream where I was back in the Big House that was torn down in the late ’70s to put up a parking lot. I never stop trying to live there in my dreams. This time some group was involved in rehabbing it and someone had heard I might be interested so I agreed to rent a space. I was there having second thoughts because I had no idea who these people were or what it was going to be like, and I already was renting a place where I was all set up. There seemed to be a LOT of people there already. But, I told myself, it was good to be there with the good wood and the large spaces; and I did a little dance and stamped my feet on the oak boards of the large front staircase landing. There was a piano in an upstairs room and I was trying to tell someone it ought to be downstairs, then I went downstairs and was trying to tell someone how there used to be a full sized upright piano right there. “So, bigger than this one?” they said, indicating a little toy piano sitting there on top of a cabinet. “Yes, bigger than that,” I laughed ruefully. There were people working on replacing boards in the entryway ceiling, and I recognized one organizer as this younger musician, a much more successfully self-promoting type. I tried to tell him about how I had dreams about being back there, and thought it was going to be torn down when we left. “Oh, I thought it was just supposed to be rehabbed and sold to someone else,” he said distractedly looking at the ceiling. “No, see, it was actually condemned and…” “Excuse me,” he interrupted, “I have to go talk to these guys” and walked off while I was in mid-sentence. I went down into the basement with a bit of laundry, and tried to figure out what was going on with a bank of small coin-operated machines. The one that was not in use did seem to be a washer, so I started putting stuff in there and asked a person next to me if he had any idea how these things worked. “Well, first of all, don’t put boxes in there,” he said, pulling out a cardboard container blocking things up that I had apparently put in along with the underwear that came in it. “Oh, I don’t know what is wrong with my head,” I apologized, “I’m so flummoxed all the time.” I was having to step around construction on the basement floor, large dug out spaces having big squares of flooring glued down. I realized I had no real involvement and no say in what was going on, no real part in anything. That’s how I woke up.
There was a peaceful moment
just a little agony over facing the inevitable struggle with eggs or cereal
I even pulled up the shade on the back window for a rare look
and the bare fingers of the spindly trees posed against a long lit cloud for a two-tone fashion
subtle greys bottom and brashly contrasting summery top.
Then, there was a scratching at the back door
Did the porch cardinal suddenly decide to present demands?
No, scratching to the left and right there are never so many birds (would that, as we were just)
No. It was the wind again.
The director called strike this set
the cat started yowling again
or the cat was the director, I confuse
That cloud was rolled out stage left tout suite
Hold onto your hats
Welcome to the ’80s.
A dab at color, a rare special guest appearance.
Working on it
1978 moves along, trying to draw since nothing else seemed possible. May have even started learning lithography.
despite the forecasts, it turned out that today was more beautiful than yesterday.
The sky, appearing at first a soft even grey, reveals itself to the deeper gaze as a complex gauze of endless and unregimented strands. In the reduced palette of the gray, the constant contradiction can be sought out. That constant contradiction of the purple and green, which hides in shadows in the gaudier flashes of open sun, is playing everywhere across the largest of spaces of sky available, and there to come from the hidden obvious, lighting and intensifying itself from inner tiny fires banked against the infinite cold. “Here, see my heart! I reward you oh lone seeker!” Proud imagining of reward, available in this arena to even the one giving a moment to try to work with the failing old eyes.
Oh, I had heeded the warnings and done what I could with the hey-making yesterday what with it being Spring and all, anticipating a day of no emergence as the ice revenged today. But, a couple of partly contrived, partly coincidental errands proved enough to convince me to go out to do walk just enough, anyway. The wind in my face immediately affected judgement, there was no way to rule more enthusiastically for advance or retreat (though the latter may have allowed a second thought of retrieving mittens and balaclava). In the lapse, a great furor arose in the court. If nothing else the issue of remaining sanguine, moving blood about enough to avoid immediate demise in any case, at last and post haste was recognized.
Once underway, and under the sky (see scene one), it seemed one might just as well go down a ravine after all. There was less traffic and blather of other humans to filter this eve, anyway.
When it was sunny, there was that struggle to concentrate on the voice of the water over the humans. Like, despite efforts who can filter a lawyer who shows up in the park apparently just to speak loudly and repetitively about client billing and tax returns while managing her children and dogs. (The children and dogs were cute, but thwarted in their goals, starved for attention and riddled with unheeded anxieties about each others’ mortality. “But, I just don’t want her to die!” “She’s fine.” “I don’t want to go back to the house, we just got here.” “Mommy forgot to make a phone call.” “Davey is staying” “He’s with Jeremy.” “Why can’t I stay with him?” “Because that’s not what we’re doing.” Stick with the plan, no matter what happens; unless you have to make a phone call.)
Turning toward the ravine seemed to signal for a shift toward moodier lighting and more dramatic effects. I got the best of the snow, in my face and skirling across the blacktop in wild crack-the-whip lines. Foot traffic was light on the descent, just a couple hardy souls in their big metal shells running their engines and leaving their lights on to spoil the skyline. But, oh, above, the fingers of the trees. More overall and above all than even yesterday, between the broader dark and slightly less dark grey. Above and calling for attention with their confusing but pointed gestures. So many hands, so many fingers. More and more as they pull the gaze. The fingers are dividing, multiplying, getting tinier and more to the point all the. I feel them in my fingers, the cold that has worked through the inadequacies of gloves heightening attention and identification. Pointy, prickly little sticks burn at the ends of my sleeves. But, surely I didn’t have that many fingers when I left the house? They must be bundles of fingers within each finger that mirror the trees. The veins themselves, each becoming its own pointy hot messenger.