Many elements in my microcosmic corner of the universe have aligned such that the past 72 hours of my life have been a splendid pause of poetic experience. A pause because the heat of midwestern July and the lack of paid occupation allow for a comfortable lethargy, a slow motion of a still scene.
Allie and Jeff left for Peru early Friday morning and, to my surprise, I was struck with an immediate pang of loneliness. It has taken only two weeks to grow accustomed to and develop affinity for their marital cavorting downstairs, and I feel like a member of the household. The other thing I realized is that solitude is much easier in a studio apartment, whereas a full scale house almost palpably demands occupation by its usual residents. The walls watch me eat fruit or cereal alone in silence in the mornings, and they respond with listless sighs.
But alas, it is the cats and me. Julip the cat was more or less in a state of panic all yesterday evening as fireworks popped and crackled around our neighborhood. Rather tired at some point of being reminded that I was not out having fun blowing up sticks of gunpowder with the rest of America, I made the executive decision to do a miniature Woody Allen marathon in the chilled basement, hoping Julip would follow suit. Julip followed suit. I think she digs Woody Allen films because she was pretty intently observing the screen for three and a half hours. Graham the cat made an appearance now and then but otherwise hung out in his various crannies. Things were cozy.
Today, prompted by a text from Thomas reading “Let’s beach,” I left the house for the first time in two days and caught a bus to Lake Calhoun. We spent the afternoon at the beach. Propped on elbows, belly to the sun, I peered from behind hipster shades at children building structures in the sand. The whole scene—shrieks tossed by elated youth into the push and lap of wind and wave, the soaring authority of clouds overhead, the glide of sails and surfs in the distance, and the trees’ mediation of water and sky—felt like an elixir poured copiously over my whole soul. I was renewed. Furthermore I relished being beside someone (Thomas) who took the same scene and likened it to Fitzgerald’s dictum at the end of The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Nailed it.
After the beach we ate subs and drank coffee in Uptown. I kept taking mental note of the evening’s temperature, a seriously delicious treat to the nervous system. Such an atmosphere beckons nudity, both physical and spiritual. I felt so nude as to be invisible, to blend entirely into the beauty of the evening, to disappear into it. What a gift to forget oneself.
This notion of melting into one’s surroundings conveniently lends itself to the poem I want to share. Its last lines are recited in Allen’s Another Woman, which Julip and I watched last night. The lines moved me enough to find the whole poem, and I’ve copied it below. Enjoy.