Friday, January 8, 2016

Janaury 8: Deepest Stars, State of Dread, Kim Addonizio, "Wine Tasting"

I walked home in a shivering daze, up hill and down.  Later I lay open-mouthed in bed, my arms flung wide at my sides to steady the whirling darkness.  At this latitude I'm spinning 836 miles an hour round the earth's axis; I often fancy I feel my sweeping fall as a breakneck arc like the dive of dolphins, and the hollow rushing of wind raises hair on my neck and the side of my face.  In orbit around the sun I'm moving 64,800 miles and hour.  The solar system as a whole, like a merry-go-round unhinged, spins, bobs, and blinks at the speed of 43,200 miles an hour along a course set east of Hercules.  Someone has piped, and we are dancing a tarantella until the sweat pours.  I open my eyes and I see dark, muscled forms curl out of water, with flapping gills and flattened eyes.  I close my eyes and I see stars, deep stars giving way to deeper stars, deeper stars bowing to deepest stars at the crown of a infinite cone.

Annie Dillard is talking about darkness, what she can or can't see once light is gone from the world.  With her eyes open, she sees creatures leaping from Tinker Creek, sleek and muscled.  With her eyes closed, she sees stars swirling in the Milky Way, feels herself rocketing through the galaxy, the universe, the night.

It is almost 11 p.m.  I'm waiting for my wife to get home from work.  I'm sitting, trying to finish this post as quickly as I can.  I'm tired.  I spent most of the day shoveling thick, wet snow and running errands.  Unlike Dillard, I don't sense the speed of the planets and stars at night.  The darkness holds nothing for me except the promise of sleep and the approach of a new day.

I am in an end-of-vacation state of dread.  In a few days, I will have to resume the responsibilities of my life again.  Medical office.  University.  Spending the majority of my days away from home, from my family.  It's strange how so much of my life is about movement and pace.  In the medical office, I'm judged by how fast I work, how much I can accomplish in eight or nine hours.  At the university, I'm judged by how I perform in the classroom--the efficiency of my teaching and grading and rule-following.

Yet, my favorite time of my day comes at its end, when darkness takes over.  That's when I come home.  Shut and lock my front door.  My life slows down when the stars are spinning overhead.  I can sit, talk to my son and daughter and wife.  Or read a book.  Or watch TV.  It's quiet, calm.  I may be moving 64,800 miles an hour around the sun, 43,200 miles an hour through the universe, but the couch in my living room is soft, warm, and inertly solid.  Unmoving.

Saint Marty isn't ready to give up his seat on the couch yet, unless he's pouring himself a glass of wine.

Wine Tasting

by:  Kim Addonizio

I think I detect cracked leather.
I’m pretty sure I smell the cherries
from a Shirley Temple my father bought me

in 1959, in a bar in Orlando, Florida,
and the chlorine from my mother’s bathing cap.
And last winter’s kisses, like salt on black ice,

like the moon slung away from the earth.
When Li Po drank wine, the moon dove
in the river, and he staggered after.

Probably he tasted laughter.
When my friend Susan drinks
she cries because she’s Irish

and childless. I’d like to taste,
one more time, the rain that arrived
one afternoon and fell just short

of where I stood, so I leaned my face in,
alive in both worlds at once,
knowing it would end and not caring.

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