Our cats have given up on the door into summer; they drape themselves over the furniture and barely even open an eye when one of us opens a door.
Monday night I had to go to symphony rehearsal, much as I wanted to drape myself over some furniture instead. When I pulled out into the street, though, there was an enormous full moon hanging over it, and I had to call Walker and Ron and tell them to go outside and look at it.
When I got to the rehearsal, I was sightreading the second violin part to a Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto, which means I was plucking one note per measure for a wearyingly long time and then suddenly an arco (bowed) section came along, and I was playing the most beautiful soaring melody, one I knew, but hadn’t looked ahead to see.
Late winter is like that. If you can just keep playing, there might be something good coming up in your part. It’s like this poem by Lucia Perillo, dedicated to a poet who has been in a wheelchair since a bicycle accident at the age of 12:
For Paul Guest
For starters, scratch the woman weeping over her dead cat—
sorry, but pet death barely puts the needle in the red zone.
And forget about getting brownie points
for any heartbreak mediated by the jukebox.
See the leaves falling; isn’t this the trees’ way of telling us to just buck up?
Oh they are right; their damage is so much greater than our damage.
I mean, none of my body parts have actually dropped off.
And when the moon is fat and handsome, I know we should be grateful
that its face is only metaphor; it has no teeth to chew us out.
In fact, the meadow isn’t spattered with the tatters of our guts.
But in last night’s hypnagogic dreamscape where I went
to collect some data. Where I was just getting into the swing of things
tranquility-wise. Then this kid came rolling through the moonlight
in a bed with lots of Rube Goldberg traction rigging.
And it was a kid like you, some kid with a broken neck.
And maybe beauty is medicine quivering on the spoon
but surely you have noticed—the goat painted on the famous old Greek urn
is headed to the slaughter. And don’t get me started
on the wildflowers or they will lead me to the killer bees.
And that big ol’ moon will lead to a cross-section of the spinal cord.
And the trees to their leaves, all smushed in the gutter.
And the gutter to the cat squashed flat as a hotcake.
And the hotcake to the grits, and the grits to the South,
where the meadows were once battlefields.
When a full moon only meant a better chance at being shot.
But come on, the sun is rising, I’ll put a bandage on my head,
and we’ll be like those guys at the end of the movie—
you take this crutch made from a stick.
For you, the South is a mess, what with its cinders and its smoldering.
And looky, looky here at me: I’m playing the piccolo.
I love the final instructions in this poem–“I’ll put a bandage on my head” and “you take this crutch made from a stick.” I’ll take whatever crutches I can find; last night we made guacamole and drank wine and then went downstairs and watched a cartoon. Tonight I’m thinking we may need music and ice cream and a fire behind drawn curtains so we can pretend we’re still in the south, where the spring shoots are rising again.