Before dawn, I drape shawls around my shoulders and snuggle into the couch cushions to watch Tarkovsky's Stalker, but I am accessing it on a Russian language YouTube site and the film stalls shortly after the opening scene -- Monkey still in bed, her mother weeping with her head pressed against Stalker's back as he brushes his teeth, face into the glaring light of day. Nothing I can do will restart the film, move away from that image, but then, so what. The mise en scene is perfect, after all. What could be more strikingly beautiful than those two backs, male and female, and all that light?
I sit quietly for some moments and look at the stillness, the folds in the fabric, the curves of both necks, the deep scratches in the wall running up to the window. I trace shadows between with an imagined finger and try to recall what comes next, when exactly the film will turn to color. Finally, I recognize that if I am to watch the film at all, it will be projected on the back of my skull in a dark cobwebby room by some faceless boneless projectionist identified only as 'Memory' who is rarely consistent, usually lazy, and frequently ignores the correct order of the reels.
As such a showing promises to be as lacking in fluidity as is the YouTube version, I give up, turn on the radio instead, and what I hear is more grim, more barren, more desperate, than the stalled foreboding on my computer screen. Trucks exploding in war zones, children disappearing closer to home, still no word on the kidnapped French family spirited away to the Nigerian desert, overturned cars on a city street, a head-on on the freeway, another shooting overnight, a knife fight in a shopping center, a car crushed into a CVS store (driver dead), two divers pulled lifeless from the Bay. And more.
And so, I turn the radio off, listen instead to the night disappearing into dawn, think about blue blue skies and the sudden surprise of daffodils streaming down the sides of Mandela Parkway.
I know too clearly that as the meticulously detailed description of misery streams daily from the radio, spills from the internet, sifts down from billboards, and piles up in drifts, I find it increasingly difficult to make my way through all that muck. Unable to create the positive changes I would like to see, I know I struggle mightily both with my own inadequacy and the increasing misery of our world . . . and I also know it would be easy to sit down, keep my back to the world, my face in my hands, and give up.
Too easy. So, I don't. Give up, that is. I've never really liked easy. I get up, make a pot of tea, paint the front steps, put another coat of sealer on the deck, rake up the leaves in the yard, and then listen to the early afternoon news (just as dreadful as the pre-dawn version). Then, I take my little dog and heart out for walk, knowing the world will be there with all its grimaces (watch your back!) but trusting we will find all its beauties as well.
And we do.
Halfway through our walk -- maybe less, maybe more, hard to say when wandering -- I hear someone close by playing "Daisy, Daisy" on a trombone. I smile. No song seems more appropriate for this beautiful day blushed bright with flowers. I imagine Daisy on the back of that bicycle built for two, one hand on the handle bars, the other atop her head, keeping her broad-brimmed straw hat from flying away with the speed of the ribbons trailing behind. Blue, pink, yellow streamers twined first around the hat and then lying flat on the wind, tracing the wobble of the bike.
Not your grandson's cell phone bike route app.
The Earth writes a love letter to the Sky
Dear Sky, beautiful sky, pink and green,
I love no one but you, my thunderous queen.
Let no day pass without oceans, breaking
over grace. Let me give you forsythia
and luminous gooseberries, dropping
one by one to moss before rolling
to lava heights, passing on the way
March, April, May. Other springs.
New York: crocuses, purple gold.
Michigan: mud sleet, sometimes snow.
North Carolina: suddenly redbuds.
Colorado: asparagus in drainage ditches.
And, then, my most distant lands, red lava
turned to black made green with ferns --
Pacific winds pinwheeling up from blue,
letting go of ice gone too far.
A regular deluge, no reservoir,
no earthen walls to hold it,
but waves of tiny yellow birds
with blue-rimmed eyes swaying
atop pink grasses, color blurred
by city lights. They caught it.
Dear Sky, I cannot end this.
Love, you and I.