The autumn that began so early and that was so promising in terms of rain, has given way to a stagnant winter, even before winter has quite arrived. This morning, every molecule of vehicle exhaust hangs low in the street, held in place by fog. Wood smoke is a relief tantamount to fresh air. Inside, at least, one is able to mask the pollution with the scent of simple home cooking — soup; potatoes; muffins for the little ones. Each flavor has its temperature; every degree its color; aroma is better than hope — invisible evidence of the tangible present interpreted as joy by the body.
In the mornings, the garden space is heavy with frost. It is an expansive field in miniature.
In the afternoons, glimpses of sun bring juncos to the bare fig tree, where they hunt and peck on its mossy knobs like hungry poets in search of an image or line. Meanwhile, a young woman is walking through the neighborhood, hanging plastic bags on doorknobs for the Boy Scout food drive. There is the image. But where is the line? Waiting at the shelter; at the mission; at the slaughterhouse; at the grand opening of yet another fast food mine, an open pit of grease and negligible nourishment, where trees once stood.
All of this amounts to a harsh kind of beauty, a beauty powerfully attractive nonetheless, for the demands of the spirit will not be denied. To be alive is to inhale the foul air with the clean, to eat while starvation yet exists in the world. Happiness is not a radical or courageous act. It is not a right to exert or a claim to defend. It is the blossom we sniff, and the grief we tend.
December 4, 2019
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