I lay on my couch in my underwear in my darkness. Underneath my blanket. The low murmuring of adjacent offices wandered in and out of my ears.
My own thoughts rabble on, loudly at first, but slowly subsiding into background noise.
Only my bald head pokes from the covers. Its baldness catches the faint air falling from the heating slit and splashing onto the couch. I have my white turtleneck on and yet still I am compelled to keep this knitted wool Armani scarf wound about my neck. It feels like two scratchy hands holding to my throat. I like the close feeling.
I lay there for minutes, then an hour at least, or maybe the minutes feeling like hours. A hot cup of coffee (instant) steams away to a slow cold beside me and untouched. I smell it in drips.
It sits atop a pile of new books, Joyce, Stevens, d.h. Lawrence, a commentary, Selected works of Robert Frost. They are filling up spaces in my brain. Those empty spaces recently swept clean to make way for words. They will be pieced together here. Stitched like squares made of ideas and images, and sewn together with lines of rhyme and color. Lines such as:
“Then it was that that monstered moth
Which had lain folded against the blue
Rose up besprent and sought the flaming red
And roamed there all the stupid afternoon.”
from “Hibiscus on the Sleeping Shores”
Another hour I lay, never opening my eyes but never sleeping. At last, at the last of it, just at the end I sleep, fast and hard.
Suddenly I am dreaming. You are there. You are hardly ever there. Now you are there. It is nowhere in particular. But just in this moment your are looking at me.
And then your gone. Oh how nice. Just in that moment and gone. Oh how the brain did offer me a treat. That face of yours is so lovely and bright. The smile that lifts oceans. Another line comes to mind.
“Littering the waves with her own superscription..” d.h. Lawrence
Now I am in my office. I am not dreaming. I am up and awake and up and I am rearranging.
I have cleared my desk of everything. Everything moved to the couch and then stacked boxes arranged around in triangular pyramids. Only my flat, brown empty desktop confronts me. It is somehow calming in its barren state. It is smooth and dark. Like a mind at rest, finally, for a time.
I see there is much more space now. It seems like double as much actually. I feel this and I smile inside. It opens me up and relaxes me at the same time. I begin to think about new paintings I can add to the wall spaces. I stroll about in a small circle with my hand on my beard while pondering these possibilities.
There is a knock on the door but it opens without my going. A woman stands with a dark brown Chihuahua sitting under her right arm. A younger man trails her. She is old, maybe 68 I guess, with thin lips. She was pretty in her day, now her face is just tired and lonely. Her face tells me of the book’s contents in a few short seconds. I hate this about myself, but it is rarely wrong.
She wears chocolate brown slacks paired with a pale blue polyester jacket which zips in the front. It is old, but not worn. A white blouse is open three buttons down. Surprisingly her chest is still taunt. She has well coiffed, white hair. I see in her eyes that she has had me a hundred times in her mind, but I have never met her. And still now, she is also hungry for me. I sense it. I see it. I stand and stare.
Her time has past for my affections. I think this and I see her thinking this as well. I think she sees this knowledge in my eyes, but it wafts away. She purses her lips and licks them once, but not in a sexual way. Instead, in a kind of ‘preparing to speak’ way. She and I know this lick’s origin and we both digest.
I ponder if I am sad for her or flattered or neither. I also wonder why I am given to know these things. No matter. It is. It is. And it is.
She is smoking a thin cigarette. She hands me two pieces of paper.
One of them is a cardboard coupon cut from a box. The other is a torn bit of paper from a magazine. I see this paper is a poem I wrote. Someone has published it. My first published poem.
She tells me of this matter. I already know because I have seen it on the internet this morning in the digital edition. I do not mention this to her though.
The poem is short. Perhaps eleven words, perhaps twenty. That is all. I like it, but I don’t love it. I ponder the decision of some young editor who selected it for publication. Was this a random choice or part of a theme or had they found a single word within the few which fit in their space or hummed in their head.
She puts the dog down. It licks my hand. I try to pet its head but it jerks. I see why. It has a blood red left eye. Blind in one eye. But I try again slowly and it allows the touch, even welcoming it. I think about how I despise this breed. They are mean, sinister, protective and moody. I recall my cousin’s dog. It bit me once. The only dog that ever bit me.
But this one…now I feel pity for it.
The woman notices. But says nothing. She takes a deep drag on her smoke and smiles. She turns to leave and the dog dutifully follows.
She is still fit and I wonder why the lonely look in her eyes. The young man shifts and she leads the way. He never came into the doorway.
What now, will I do with all this space? I return to my pondering and the smallest feeling of contentment sits in my stomach for the poem.