I wake up with the sunrise everyday now. I make Jenny coffee and I sit outside to watch the horizon brighten. I have a particular chair I sit in. This a few hours after my Middle Awakening, when I’m up at one o’clock for an hour before settling back into bed.
A caterpillar has made its way up my chair, a bannister variety of chair with scroll arms and a rustic finish. The caterpillar made a chrysalis where its body will emulsify before being reformed, essentially liquefying itself before re-emerging more delicate and built of paper. More beautiful, like the magenta bougainvillea sepals that brighten our windows, else the poppies that have since bloomed.
Jenn was first to notice the cocoon and wrote to me: the caterpillar spinning itself with silk is not a metaphor, but a literal thing, an ornament on my chair, grey and comma-shaped and something saw-toothed.
But it is a metaphor. I insist.
I’ve been told I look younger these days, a Benjamin Buttons transformation, and more on butterfly wings than on spines. In being so, I feed on nectar now, and my fragility is less important that I am no longer an earth-bound thing.
A metaphor of metamorphosis. Both words from the Greek: the former meaning ‘to transfer’, the latter meaning, ultimately, ‘to transform.’
How We Can Die: a Story
Frankie had asbestositis, terminal, but he told all the nurses, “See I still have all of my hair!” And he had a full head of fine black hair, coifed despite his pillow-rest.
“And all these are mine,” he said smiling counting the teeth in his head.
He was a dancing man, but was bed-bound. His nurse climbed into bed with him the evening before he died, and she flung her weight up and down on the bed so that Frankie could dance again, and one last time.
He died the next morning.
This is a true story.
1) The rain is gentle and it falls from a white sky. No perceptible clouds, just white. I stare at the sky with my wife who I love increasingly each day until my heart is a heart-shaped thing, and not just a muscle in my chest. I close my eyes and they are as blank as the sky, as if they had no memory.
2) Turns out I’m a good part Irish, but you probably knew that. You had intuition that was otherworldly, and I’m only now learning that you knew things about me that I didn’t when you were still alive. St. Thomasin.
3) I always wonder what you saw when you died—’det’ you called it in prediction of your demise—and when you said, “O there you are,” and I wonder who ‘you’ was, was it maybe that you saw yourself in a cosmic mirror, at the end of your life. You always meant to understand yourself.
4) I have split sleep this days: first and second, and in the witching hour I write and think of how we used to pen letters back and forth while the laundry tumbled at 2 in the morning and the only sound was the mockingbird that lives atop my roof.
5) Only five bulletpoints today, my Tin Man friend, five as a trinity but added with two, as we were, my Friend—a two of star-crossedness, and shy of Orion’s belt. I miss you, Delaney, and still love you. xo
Took a beach walk with my family today, and—just as the morning started—the afternoon was interrupted, too, with silent and solitary meditation. Separated myself briefly and found a bench overlooking the ocean. We had been poring over the rocks looking for heart-shaped ones, my aunt and I, and remarked the tributaries of micah sand that flowed around the beds of stone. We looked for a kelp holdfast—didn’t find one—but when you break open a holdfast you can find brittlestars that fit on your thumbnail.
This morning I was awake and listened to last night’s rain drip methodically through the ficus leaves and this afternoon I saw the waters multiplied in the expanse of the ocean, me alone on a bench overlooking the sea. It’s the law of optics that the horizon is a mile distant, but in that short mile there was a multitude of colors, the grey of the crashing surf and the deep lilac of the more distant waters, just beautiful.
There was a lone surfer and an even more lone pelican, wings outstretched and riding the breeze, narrow and made to ride the zephyrs. All was quiet despite the multitude of Winnebago campers and the sun was something hazy behind the clouds.
Beauty reveals itself to those who watch, and my eyes were open, my knee something of hurt, but there on the bench—just like the bench in the canyon this morning—I cupped my hands and prayed to the Universe, accepting the calm, Laughing Buddha, watching as the sea expressed its sometimes peace. I was happy.
I sit in the canyon and it’s not crepuscular, so fairly few birds are out. Crows dominate the scene and I ask myself: “What dominates me?” And an hour before, I laid with Jenn on the bed with my arms wrapped around her and I told her that she was my soulmate. With fullest intention, with all of my hummingbird heart.
And the crows were gliding, the warblers were absent, still I sat in the canyon with my stupid ginger beer and watched the trees as they creaked their eucalyptus voice.
Did you know I’m a writer? I write in my head constantly, even if just saying declarative words to post-stamp the things I see. I’m an existential notary. I’m a poet. ‘Bees.’ ‘Flower.’ ‘Children.’
I meet Kim at the top of the canyon and she’s sitting and thinking, too. Just with a bag of Cheetos and a cigarette.
“I’m Thom. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m Kim. This canyon is nice.”
Her Toyota Camry is parked neatly, and I do this too. Park neatly and sit and think.
What crime is this to talk of the trees, when there are so many other horrors? Yet, the smell of clean laundry fills my nose, the sound of my baby’s laughter. Hearing my wife’s voice echo in my head like a kind Apollo’s helmet.
Just the sound of her voice, the canyon. Life and how to live it.