honey is not a power tool

I find her in the bathroom, where I’m told I’ll find her:  Are you Ruth?

The bathroom sink is running.  She’s turned towards the door: Are you here to take me home?

She’s somewhere near eighty years– my best guess–blind and Alzheimered, and I walk her out of the gas station bathroom with her hands on my shoulders, multo lente conga (that’s some language mush for you) to where her husband is waiting for us.  He takes her arm: Thanks.

You guys are a fine couple, I say.

Guys? he says– apparently I’ve just undone my lil mitzvah by refering to them with the generalized masculine noun.

You two, I mean, I back-peddle.  Gas stations don’t have spare sporks lying around so I can’t shove one in my eye.

Ruth is confused enough without me turning her into a man and now her husband can’t decide if he’s grateful or miffed or both at once– a feeling, I imagine, akin to taking a sleeping pill and washing it down with black coffee.

You’re a beautiful couple, I ammend.  They shuffle onward.

But by the time I leave “Love’s” gas station with my tea she has fallen off the curb, and her husband is looking down at her, flat her back on the pavement.  The station attendant says: She’s bleeding from her head. Even without this cue, our viscera know it’s wrong when a human is horizontal in a parking lot, constructed in the first place to accommodate the needs of our verticality and mobility.

Things happen fast.

*

Must a blog be chronological and who says so?

*

J and I make another drive, this time to Flint, Michigan, to deposit me at the airport.  I can’t say enough nice stuff about that drive so I won’t say anything at all.  Just the way this year’s excessive rainfall throughout unlikely regions of the U.S. has caused fungus, varieties ne’er-bef0re-seen, to grow rampant, so too the bizarre billboardage of Southern Michigan.  J is telling me the story of Beowulf and the dragon, who likes stealing virgins and hoarding treasures and the like–and who doesn’t, in this economy?– when it becomes impossible to ignore the roadside advertisements, literary giants that they are:

“TRY THE CYBERKNIFE FOR INOPERABLE CANCERS.” (inoperable, as in, inoperable?)– Beside this invitation is depicted a human form made of light.  Hmmm….is Michigan trying to increase its Jewish population?  We have been known to respond to Temptations of Tumors.  It certainly has a rather universal appeal; get your Cancer cut out with a fake knife and have an experience– as spirit and science overlap– of your light-body! All at a local hospital!  I’m in.  Are you in?  I’m in. Plus, it’s not too far from Trader Joe’s: if all else fails, the consolation prize is a bagful of almost-ripe avocados.

“GUNS GALORE!” another sign reads.  Yay!  And down the road: “CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND!”, the Christmas superstore, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Is it July?  Just checking.  At any moment it is possible for you to get your Christmas Needs taken care of, and I find this an enormous relief.  In fact, it is all I can do to keep myself from buying an ornament, and the ornament I am most longing for, right now, perhaps because I am suggestible, is a cyber-knife, with which I might cut out my heart, and put it, aorta et al, as a centerpiece to my blog.

*

At the airport, my raw honey is confiscated by security.  The officer intones at me: No liquids, no gels, no…

SN: Food?

O: No liquids, gels, flammables…

SN: Or honeys?

O: [gripping honey tight] No liquids–

SN: OK.

And thus humanity– or at least the tiny sliver of it on my puddle-jumper aircraft– was safe.  From whatever I had planned that involved honey.  Which none of us will ever know.

The plane is so small I bump my head on the ceiling, something which makes me feel tall, a rare experience for me.  I do it again.  It’s rough being tall.  Your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device in the event of an emergency. Admit that you’d really like to see if this is true, because it sounds like a Fib to me, such that I wonder if, with sufficient stealth, one could take one’s cushion out at the end of the flight, and, if stopped by authorities, claim that the Waters of Consciousness constitute a continuous state of emergency for which you needs to be amply prepared. Truth is: I am just waiting for the clouds, and the clouds are coming.  Both legs of my flight I have the absolute pleasure of being eye-level with them for the duration.  I am positively haunted by sky.  Sky is everywhere beautiful, if you can see it and sense its availability.  Seeing something for what it is– the true magic act  that maybe, just maybe, requires an entire lifetime to master.  The clouds and I are up close, and their shapes are tougher than I’d expect– a plane can pierce it, and it holds, not something most of us could say for our own forms.  Yet the wind can blow, and destroy the cloud irreparably.  This is not quite a paradox, but paradox’s cousin.   The clouds are dense, their shadows curiosities in the green water well below.

*

In Portland, the moral of the story is: how good it is to have a sister!  She and I hike at Mt. Morris, where the mosquitoes who have made offspring in untold quantity in the swamphoods are teaching the Mosquito Juniors to plague human trespassers.  They are so good at it that we have to run through the salt marshes to the beach to avoid being their buffet lunch– the beach which we naively assume will provide safety, where instead we are chased again for two miles by swarms of green flies, vampires with fangs and tutored persistence.  All living creatures deserve to live, and I stay true to this belief until we encounter other hikers who are equipped with DEET, at which point we coat ourselves in poison and continue on our merry way.  There is something in the maddening consequences of insect life that brings out my latent anthropocentrism.   Time is buzzing with conflicting agendas, and perhaps it is strife– inter-species, intra-species– that actually leads us forward, towards the myriad ways there are of dying out and so permitting a pattern of blossoming and failure which is, on the largest level, not up to us at all.

And what do we have?  “Just a handful of whatever time is”, says poet Carl Dennis (“Defining Time”).  Ruth dropped her handful.  Mine is a cloud all around me and changes its dimensions whenever I try to have a relationship to it.  The Christmas Store has hit pause and lives in the warped matrix of an extended holiday.  I wonder if the doctors back at the Michigan hospital would be willing to try their invisi-tool to route out the sorrows of mortality from my bones, where it grows and grows and breeds.  And then J texts me something that seems enough of an answer, for now:

“And what love can do that dares love attempt”– spoken by Romeo, in defense of the indefensible, i.e. this odd odd predicament of being alive.

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3 Responses to “honey is not a power tool”

  1. jen ross Says:

    sweetie, honey can be very dangerous. please write a book, i’d love to read it 🙂 miss you somethin’ fierce. hi to j. x

  2. Erin Mathews Says:

    i’m left with a vision of you–polka-dotted by mosquito bites, honey in one hand, cyber-knife in the other, standing overtop your freshly cut-out heart–and it’s BEAUTIFUL!

  3. rickyb Says:

    ha! Carl Dennis was one of my poetry teachers at berkeley when he guest-taught there… a lovely human being

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