Last Saturday is Eid al-Fitr, the final day of Ramadan, and it’s perfect rainbow weather, the storm clouds steely yet bright. From my window I watch the eastern sky. In the Quran, ‘god’ is often expressed in the first person plural. What if the Bible were the same? And the bow shall be in the cloud; and We will look upon it, that We may remember the everlasting covenant with every living creature that is upon the earth. Would we see a collective self in all things? When it finally comes, it is doubled, the inner bow seemingly crystalline, touchable. Four years ago I spent Ramadan in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Each night à table Mohamed would hand me the plate of dates before all others, allowing me to eat first though I was not fasting as they were. Technically a double rainbow occurs when the light refracts a second time through each water droplet, in other words, the rainbow reflected back on itself, the thing acting as its own mirror. We are who we are inside and out. Let us all be humbled by both the seen and the unseen. Let us comport ourselves accordingly. I stand at the window long after the colors fade. With or without me, they will come again.
where motor boats can’t go but it’s easy in a kayak, and so most afternoons I slip under to the place where the same thing happens as occurs in the Blue Grotto off the coast of Capri, there the blue of the sky reflected off the white-sand bottom, the color intensified in the waters of that cavern, how the first and only time I was in Capri I was fourteen years old, and now when I kayak under the bridge it’s like being there again only here the light shocks the water an electric green, almost neon, the water so bright that each time I come I feel as if I’ve floated into heaven despite the sleeping bags, the pair of men’s rubber boots, the ratty possessions, everything someone owns crammed into less than two feet of overhead space, and each time I come to be dazzled I am reminded that this is not heaven, this is a world where some men live under bridges, some men are shot as they drive home with the people they love, some of us are granted admittance to unspeakable beauty as teenagers. This is a world where if one of us is lost, all of us are lost.
I paint my nails mint in an attempt to cool myself. High winds and the Strawberry Moon paddle is canceled. At the all-day retreat at Deer Park, the lama tell us we must wish that all sentient beings have the tools to achieve happiness. Bub, look around, I silently think. We are of a nature to burn. We have not gone beyond burning. Behind me, the kid with the prayer wheel like a god with a world.
Thursday & a bird has once again built its nest in the stoplight on Regent. O feathered sister, in the moment when this mechanized sun goes silent, does your 460 beats per minute heart beat even faster as you await the return of the light, the yellow winking every third interval? Is that why you are here again, drawn to this halogen yolk, this incontrovertible that blasts you w/its radiance, each day simply a matter of seconds & then darkness, repeat, or am I thinking of it all wrong, am I letting the darkness that we can't seem to escape cloud my heart? O to live in your jerry-rigged world— each day composed of thousands of dawns, each one a fresh start!
Yesterday while skimming an article on the 14 characteristics of such regimes, I stumble on this description of fascism: We no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing— he simply wakes one morning to find it is over his head. Yes. The way I do not sense the 500 calories cut each day as recommended by the sports nutritionist, yet one evening after blanching asparagus as I sit to eat from my plate like a rainbow (the wild salmon, the pickled beets with goat cheese!), a small child is being carried down a mountainside in Yemen, the child with a seeping head wound, or in one day’s time how many texts, how many emails, how many of your long brown hairs still on the bathroom tile though you’ve been gone for months, and as I drop yet another in the trash, Barber's Adagio for Strings is broadcast once again over a city square in England; each night on my couch with my tablet, watching the series in which a lesbian is hung from a crane, and as I power down the screen, halfway around the world two men are caned, lashed 82 times for sharing a bed. I brush my teeth because here at least thanks to Madison Avenue I am conscious of the subtle dulling of enamel, the slow graying, while in an apartment building in Mosul more than a hundred civilians are killed by us. And there’s my own callousness, the terrible joke I made to friends almost a decade ago after a night club fire. Where did it come from, this cruel soil in me that nourished such darkness— the unnoticed leaking from the garbage disposal until the whole kitchen is flooded with dirty water. And the musician of whom reports say he battled it his whole life only to believe there was no other way. It’s true. There is no other way, and spring does come, falling asleep to the heavy sweetness of the small white flowers on the orange tree in the living room, the thing fluttering in my chest for no discernible reason, and I stop and wonder how the moon can be full again so soon, why at times is it so hard to notice this dazzling pendulum swinging through the sky?
How often in life do we get an answer? Berryman to the young poet Merwin at Princeton: If you need to know, don’t write. Yet here it is this morning in my checking account, proof that you did indeed get my letter, your signature incontrovertible, the money withdrawn, like last night’s top story on the local news of a young black child and the white officer who responded after a bullet tore through the family’s living room window, the hole fist-sized, celestial in shape, the child writing the officer a thank-you note even though no one was caught, and it takes me a long moment to realize what the child is thankful for, and I have to say it’s not nothing, someone arriving in the middle of the night to tell you we will protect you, you matter, even when the evidence right there in your living room says anything but.