Dust and Light
I lie in bed after reading Mary Oliver‘s Winter Hours, close my eyes, let what I’ve read — and how that reading has woken life and feeling and sensation and contemplation — stir around me, settling the way dust blown up by passing footsteps re-settles in a spot beside where it had been.
I lie in the morning gloaming. The City traffic noises, well underway, elbow through the open windows past early day breezes, to dance at the edges of my awareness. I lie on my side. My top arm slops down onto the bottom one. The top edge of my pelvis tips toward my head, swaying gently with my breathing. I think a little. I feel some emotion, some awe, some full-heartedness at Oliver’s words, which are already fading, my memory lets them slip onto the floor, like dropping a silk scarf, its fading trace remembered in skin.
I breathe. Full. And think of an oblong patch of sun stretching cat-like across one end of my kitchen table. In the winter, the shadow reclines undisturbed, or until clouds come along, or until it is time for midday to pick the shape up like a book, and move it to some other table in some other apartment. By spring, the light shudders as opening leaves of the tree outside push their shadows into its geometry.
For 20 years, a dancer lived in the apartment across the street, across the 4-story ravine. I saw her dancing behind her window frames late in the afternoon until she drew her curtains and blasted the wall with a rectangle of yellow light. In April, she put pots of flowers out on the fire escape, then stuck her head out several days a week until October to water them. She lived 30 feet away but I never met her. Then she left. The new tenants are rarely there; the window wears a manicured blind that is mostly closed, mostly dark. So there it is, slabs of light, appearing and disappearing without cutting a groove, tell me about the day, the neighbors.
Ric arrives home late in the evening after his full day. We have our decompression chat, his day, my day. We have our dinner ritual and our side-by-side movie watching ritual. We have our climbing into bed, and the moment of toes; he is already asleep as I reach my toes to lightly touch his foot or lower leg. And here’s the test for me, in the midst of his heavy slumber breath, he reaches back. He might even be snoring, yet his foot reaches back to mine. Our side-by-side, much of it wordless and repetitive, is a sure sun patch in my life. A miracle of us lying, light as light, across one another’s beings.