Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Ritual

The small window lets in no light, not even a flickering star finds its way to the bedside. The dark sky looms like a giant, encompassing totality in its blackened gaze. I raise my head slightly and look to the end table. A red light informs me of our tilt on a spinning orb: 4:31AM. My neck releases its weight and I fall to the pillow like a rock thrown to a still lake. Soundlessly. Effortlessly, cast by an absent hand, a missing intention. Rain falls on the window, it hits so silently, like a thought never spoken. Just a moist, quiet mood is revealed. Just me and the perception of movement and inaudible splashes. Rain clouds open in the night, opening and releasing the pregnant fullness of water, quietly fucking the land that waits below. And if their meeting is silent, what is it that speaks in whispers? Who brings the nameless mists into this dark room, the reverberating echoes of ancient Espers?
Bindhi meows. I hear his plea, his hunger unconcerned with the red light of the clock or the dark time or the tired bodies that drift between lands. I feel Heather’s weight shift and the bed moves and I hear a door opening. A small jingle bell catches my ears. The bed shifts again, I feel a hand on my stomach, "You didn’t complete the ritual," I say. Like a child’s voice she would later say, in the arms of the night, my words, my sounds, were untainted by demands and adult interactions and years of accumulated memory. Like a child’s voice, she would say when light had shaken me and all hints of that innocence were well hidden once again.
Other stories call and the dreams start to tear at the known and I think of all the little people inside, looking out but rarely speaking. And I know that I am them, and their fears are mine, and my unspoken truths are theirs. All of us, on the edge of being completely forgotten, quietly watching the shadow show like a TV with no switch. Like faded family photographs, portals into the memories of birthday parties and the first bicycle and siblings in front of a Christmas tree. All these faces silently watch me, looking into me, seeing my future, wondering where I am.
Suddenly Bindhi jumps on the bed, he walks to the edge and nuzzles my head. I hear his need, his plea once again. As silently as the rain, I pull the warm covers away and step onto the forgiving carpet. I walk to the kitchen, the small jingling sound following me for thirty feet. I pour some dried food into his bowl and then I use the bathroom. He follows me back to bed and the ritual is complete.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Warm People

Oh the things that they do, the warm people, the people with lovers and pets and warm beds. They have rituals. At a certain time, food is prepared, stories are read, television is watched, baths are had. Things are cleaned and prepared for the invocation of life. There is a woman in the kitchen and she cleans it and then she cooks in it and all of the many creatures of the household are fed. Her life, her love flows out from this central place, the hearth, the kitchen where the stove burns warm and she dances from counter to counter preparing the magick that will keep them all turning and dancing. They will dance out the doors and into the world and will toil and work there. They will find reasons to smile, moments of greatness, and also moments to weep, moments when they are injured by cruel words or harsh glances or casual accidents. Then they will dance back into the home, drawn by the golden threads of the hearth, led back to the place where they will be nourished and prepared for new conquest, new triumphs, new failures. Each one has a place in the dance. The soft cat curled on a chair, the bristly dog sniffing in the yard, the woman and the man and the little people. The warm people thriving in their special place, their place where they can be all together.
Are they real? Or are they a dream? A dream of the cold people who lie alone and gray, who rise and wonder why, whose stoves are cold and whose refrigerators are empty. They eat ramen from the microwave. If there is more than one sharing the same roof, they eat their ramen separately at different times whenever their stomachs growl. They watch television, but not together, each in their own room, each tuned to a different station. If there is a man and a woman, then they sleep with their backs to one another, aching with loneliness. If there is only one or the other, they sleep very little, staying up late to chat in online forums, to play computer games, or to read penny romance novels in a bathtub scented with lilac bubbles until the precious heat is gone.
Are there any warm people? I have always supposed that there were. Watching the Cosby show on the television late at night in a giant empty house where the lights are kept off to save electricity. A house set at the foot of a dark mountain where there are children and a mother but the father is gone, where the dog and the cat sleep in a wooden house set in a lonesome field. Sometimes the mother brings the cat inside, because it is a baby, small and white, and the father is not there to enforce the rules of the house. They eat cold food off of a platter and sit on blankets spread over a hard wood floor and watch the warm people on the television set.
For a while they are the warm people. The people who laugh and hug and have what they need and are happy with what they have. Then the kitten goes back outside to huddle with the dog and the children travel down the long dark hall, running so that nothing grabs their legs from the inky darkness. They crawl into an enormous bed and the mother sings until they sleep and goes away down the long dark hall and finds her own enormous bed adrift in the black night and then she sleeps or she weeps.
I know that the cold people are real. I have lived among them. I am still one of them. I strive to be the warm on one hand and on the other, my life unfolds as it was set to unfold. In the beginning I was among the cold, and in the end I will be among the cold. The father is always missing, the kitchen is always cold. The darkness is always encroaching, and the kitten is kept out of the home.