William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Sweet Yellow Lanterns

Fifty-eight degrees. Standing shirtless on the grass at dawn under a steady rain, face to the sky, I was surprised at how warm I felt. Twenty minutes later, inside, while finishing my shower with the water turned completely to cold, I was surprised again by how much colder the water was coming from the city well and up through the pipes that run under the house. What, in degrees, is the real difference? It doesn’t matter, but I would like to know. And what will it be in the dead of winter? And whence that phrase, when winter is charged with so much magic and life? Let us say, rather, the heart of winter.

Our pepper plants are still draped with sweet yellow lanterns — bright they are against the background of gray sky and muddy furrow.

I have long since fallen out with the idea of goals, especially those which focus on so-called success. Ruthless and demanding — business, power, influence — it all strikes me as an aggressive form of prayer. If I am to have a goal, let it be for something beneficial to others, or to my own physical fitness and health. For instance, let me work towards being comfortable for long periods of time in a fully squatted position, with my feet flat on the ground, as I was in childhood, when sitting in chairs was an outrage and an assault on my freedom. I can squat comfortably now, and I can do so repeatedly. And I can do it at odd times throughout the day. But I could not relax in that position for an hour beside a campfire after the day’s hunting and gathering. Modern life all but snuffed it out of me. And so it seems to me that regaining one’s natural flexibility is a truly worthwhile goal. Making money, gaining followers, selling books — all of which in my fabled past I tried to do — are simply a recipe for ill health. I speak, of course, only for myself. And of course I don’t really speak at all. I write — also for myself — not that I need to. I simply like the idea that someone, somewhere, sometime, might be listening. It doesn’t matter whether I’m dead or alive. Squatting, though, does.

September 18, 2021


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