I’m leaving Saturday for a week’s vacation with my extended family. Aviva has been packed since mid-July. I have a couple of library books I’ve been looking forward to reading, a novel by Vendela Vida and the memoir My Life as a Boy by Kim Chernin, which I started last night and already can’t put down.
I’m not sure what the future holds. An almost-eight-year-old girl writes “I am strong” on her arm, so self-possessed, uncensored, neither built up nor weighed down by her own stories. I was eight, too. And now I’m four times eight and then some, and I’m networking and applying to full-time jobs, trying to secure things financially, wondering what to do with my manuscript of poems, school starts back up in a couple of weeks, the night air has that fall edge to it, life is changing fast, and much remains uncertain.
My dreams don’t seem to have a pause button to them these days; I wake in the morning soaked in sweat and saturated with images, half-gone, voices and faces. I see and know things I have no way of knowing. I pour bowls of honey-nut cheerios and set the timer for the girls’ movie time and think about the two clients I have coming to my home office this morning.
Lately I’ve been more than usually struck by the raw depth and honesty of some of my favorite writers and bloggers. By contrast, I feel restrained and self-censored.
Maybe a week away from blogging is just what the doctor ordered, a fast of sorts. My hunch is that it may be longer, that perhaps I need to close some proverbial doors in order for the windows to fly open, to butcher an old cliche.
The truth is, I’m tired of trying to predetermine outcomes. Tired, even, of my own questions. Maybe I’m just plain tired. I continue to hope that the Universe is spacious and forgiving, even if I do miss the mark time and again. I have to believe that I’m getting closer. Or maybe Gertude Stein was right and there really is “no there there.”
I just keep thinking of Kim Chernin’s words, “violent endings and stormy beginnings.”
For now, I’ll sign off with a deep bow of respect to you who have read these words, whoever and wherever you are, wishing you well and trusting that we’ll meet as we’re meant to before the world ends –
in a story or a song, on a screen or on a page, in a dream or on a park bench, at a rest stop or in an airport terminal or during an intermission or at a poetry reading or on a wooded path or waiting on line for the women’s bathroom or at a soup kitchen or a topless beach or a concert hall or a toll booth or in the snow near some obsolete payphone, cold hands deep in pockets, digging for change.
Perhaps the World Ends Here
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what,
we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the
table so it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe
at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what
it means to be human. We make men at it,
we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms
around our children. They laugh with us at our poor
falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back
together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella
in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place
to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate
the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared
our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow.
We pray of suffering and remorse.
We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,
while we are laughing and crying,
eating of the last sweet bite.