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In the middle of everything
We're going back to the desert not a minute too soon. I struggle with patience. I have many books. And a poem—a sonnet!—by Diane Seuss.
We're going back to the desert this week and it's about goddamn time.
I am struggling to stay in the present.
This is not new, so let me rephrase (writing is editing):
I struggle to stay present.
Knowing now, finally, for the first time at last, what I want—
more sun, more quiet, to be closer to family and also to god,
if we can agree whatever god is and wherever she lives it's got something to do with the sky—
I am impatient for it.
I know what I want. (A minor miracle.)
And I'd like it right now.
What I want are long days. I want to start when the sun does, or even before. I want to watch the sun rise over everything, and when I watch the sun rise over everything I want a cup of tea. The tea is brewed from loose leaves, and while I wait for it to steep, I want to write before I speak. I want to write something down before I let the world in. In this way I want to make sure my brain is mine for the day. Whatever else happens, my mind is my own. Once I've written something down—and it doesn't have to be much! A sentence, a word, how I'd like to feel today—I want to move my body.
Recently I decided I would like to hold a handstand by the time I turn 39, which is soon, and also arbitrary, but useful I guess, for the sake of giving me time, but not too much. I want to stand on my hands for at least five breaths, or four. Let's make it four. I want to be reasonable.
I want to feel strong, and long, and lengthy as hell, or at least as long as someone as long as me can be.
I want to breathe, preferably outside, even better with my dog and my friend who I married somewhere near by, close by, closer. I want to feel the morning fill up my lungs and my heart and my belly and all my dumb little cells. I want to be with and in and among the morning, I want to be the morning. I want to be with every living thing by simply being. I want living to be this simple.
I want to feel safe and I want you to feel safe. I want us to live in a world that loves us back, I want to live a life governed by generosity and reciprocity. I want to walk up a mountain that isn't burning. I want to eat as many colors as I can every day and keep something alive, many things, I want to keep everything that I can alive. I want to be unreasonable.
I want to grow weed in the desert, sage and lavender too, chamomile, at least five types of peppers, whatever flowers will bloom. I want to learn more about gray water systems and drip irrigation and building rammed earth walls. I want to build something right the first time. I want to experiment and learn and try again. I want to do good work with good people. I want to give what I can. I want to want less. I want to write books, and maybe letters. I want to make fewer promises and more snack plates to share. I want to find my balance. I want to have everything I need on hand to whip up something wonderful for dinner, nothing too flashy, but I want it to smell like heaven and taste like love.
I want to sit in the shade when the sun's overhead and then watch it go down on the day, and I want to take pictures of it as it happens, unburdened and unbothered by how basic this may be, because I never want to be someone who can look at the sky and not marvel, not want to share what I see—light shifting, clouds parting and on parade, the promise of rain in the distance, impermanence, perfection, the presence of every living thing on earth held tenuously together by the grace of our dying star, thank god.
I want to light my candles and pull my cards and say my prayers to whoever's listening. I want to live and stay alive as long as I can bear it and help keep what I love that way too.
I want to go to the desert now.
I want to go home.
In the meantime, there's poems. I'm learning to read more slowly these days, which feels decadent and excellent. It’s another way, I find, to stay present. When I'm reading the poems, I am only with poems. There is no rushing toward the future, no borrowing trouble, no thinking about tasks or errands or impatiently waiting for the world to change. There’s only the words on the page and their wisdom asking me to find it.
I want to spend more time with poems.
Which is great, because I've come into a number of very good new books recently, and I also paid off my credit card. These are not not related. The books are these:
Tell me if you want to read one together. We can try anything we want.
Here's a poem for now.
To keep you with me a minute longer.
[From this bench I like to call my bench]
From this bench I like to call my bench I sit and watch my tree which is not my tree, no one’s tree, the quiet! Except for barn swallows which are not loud birds, how many exclamation points can I get away with in this life, who was it who said only two or maybe seven, Bishop? Marianne Moore? Either way the world is capable of quiet if everyone stays indoors and no jet planes, my tree, it just stands there in the middle of everything in a meadow on the bay looking what Barthes called “adorable,” then I drove the mile west to the sea which had decided to be loud that day, the sunset, oh, ragged and bloody as a piece of raw meat in the jaws of some big golden carnivore, and I cried a little, for none of it! none of it will last!
i want more.