Dec 032012

Anything you really, carefully examine begins to resemble everything else you have ever examined. What they have in common is you, your process of examination. There’s the famous haiku:

Fanning myself:
I watch myself wanting:
Fan, move!

This is what struck me most strongly as I began my examination of the hurricane that was to engulf the entire existence of the only world I had ever lived in. Everything around me began to take on a double meaning; the Halloween candy was wrapped in enigma and revelation.

An autumn leaf
Plastered to the kitchen window,
Trying to get dry.

Thinking I would have the long hurry-up go-nowhere of the storm to myself, I received an unexpected phone call from an old roommate. Her name is Sunny. Ironic, huh?

Evacuation orders
Unhouse thousands--
Snowflakes on damp asphalt.
Last minute hurricane call--
No message except to say
"Can I live with you?"

Finally, I stood staring out the window as the sun went down behind a swirl of misty grey cloud cover that had been hanging over the region for a few days already. We were all living under the overhang of Sandy’s big straw hat, and had been for some time.

An unexpected guest--
Blown into my flying scarf--
Hello, nettle-leaf!
Ruminating before the storm,
I find myself unavoidable:
Hurry up, Sandy!
Pre-hurricane trees--
Shadows enlarge and blur--
Which way will they fall?

That night, my friend moved in her cats and about 16 gallons of Evian “emergency water.” I kept waking up to scribble this or that down irritably, look out the windy window, and then pull the covers back over my head.

Rain driven in under the sill--
How the drops of water
Stay wet!

Just as I was putting a towel alongside the leaking window, something in the headlights of my evacked friend’s old Pontiac caught my eye–like a green flicker of wind–as she slipped her car into an open slot.

A single grassblade
Being itself:
A single grassblade.

Her cats carried in and settled, we were ready for the onslaught of the storm. Mostly, we watched it swirling and nearing on the TV news. My old friend in the house (safe for the moment) played sudoku on her iPad.

Feeling scared together,
NASA pics show us
Our smallness.
Anxious in the storm,
We eat Chinese by candlelight
And read our fortunes.

I had had a few last minute “Are you ready for Sandy?” conversations with other folks in the complex a little earlier in the day. Later, I would get up periodically through the night to check on the storm’s progress.

Interviewing neighbors--
They are cheerful, mostly,
Under wind-blown frowns.
Distracted faces pass--
Neighbors gone wandering
For cell service.
* * * *
As night comes down,
Not even my thoughts
Keep pace.

In the darkness of that first night, I felt both cavalier and concerned. Time dilated in my mind, and my fingertips tingled, as if witchcraft could be conjured by their twiddling. But, of course, nothing happened. There was only the darkness of my thoughts, and the surprising softness of the air outside that I let in through windows pulled wide-open on one side of the apartment, since there was very little rain accompanying the black rush of air that came on cool as a kiss blown by a lonely Frost Giant.

The wet balcony at 3 a.m.
Feels as narrow
As a footstool.
The railing shivers
In the driven rain
--So cold!
Even in this wind--
The skinny neighbor on his balcony
Lights up.

Once up, and wandering around my place in silent slippers, I followed my curiosity through several self-concerned revolutions of thought until I finally gave up on myself and wanted to see just what was going on in the whooshing world around me. I went down to the front door in my hand-sewn moccasins, my eyes as big and hungry as the bleak end of a vacuum hose–trying to suck in every available sight.

In the wet floodlit portico,
A squirrel chewing seeds
Kittens like the dark--
What fun they have,
Attacking my feet!
In the lightning flash--
Unlit Ikea lamps
Spawn shadows.
In this strange gale
The wind is searching
For the rain....
Rush rush rush....
Wither wither wither?
--The wind!
Such a gale!
The kite falls off its shelf

There’s a lightness to all things, rightly conceived. Not a lack of seriousness, so much as a spirit of un-seriousness–a playfulness in the ever-present immanence of joy just beneath the surface. Even our most hellacious heartaches are but the base notes of a vast symphony of being, whose melody delights. Would you rather be bound to the Catherine wheel of your misery, or be able to laugh at your fragility? Old age afflicts, but a whistle’s quickness lifts the heart forever.

The mind makes mistakes.
--Just so.--
We notice it.
The body decays--
A face drawn in dough changes
As the dough rises.
Death, too, is part of this--
A broken branch falls as easily
As a leaf.

Somewhere in the dark, the wind revved itself up in a series of vicious gusts–variations on a theme–wailing and whining like a hand-cranked siren. What was the wind doing, moving so awfully fast in the big dark?

Hold on roof!
The sky is asking
You to dance!

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