The grandfather clock yawns tall at seven feet. Handmade, antique. It’s been ticking and tocking for 84 years. The wood is a warm walnut, stained darker. The numbers, still dark as if they were just painted yesterday. Holding an ear to the heart of the beast, you can hear heart of it: beating and churning and creaking. On the hour it sounds, ringing and clanging loudly in a room filled with dusty, forgotten treasures; All from a time when silver platters and spoons were customary serving receptacles to a certain race and class, and if the only certainty of life is that people die, then that is confirmed; Their accumulated heirlooms sold, donated, or thrown away.
A child sits in a white bonnet at the foot of the grandfather clock. The hour is late and the child coos, abandoned, finding fascination with her hands. The clock keeps rhythm of the passing hour. Dust accumulates in the antique shop, which sits on the border between dream and nightmare. Depending on the war, its borders can change and will as it suits them, the dreamer. A silver moonbeam makes its way into a window, divided into four smaller squares. It reflects on the floor of the child. Who is she? How did she get here? She is unimpressed, and continually distracted by the realization of fingers and touch and teething. The temperature dips and the clock watches over the floor, wise and all-knowing.
The only enemy of this clock would be a swarm of termites, neglect, or both. But the termites hibernate, too cold to take action. The building creaks and moans in silence, no one there to hear it but this babe, floor-bound, now sprawled on her stomach, rolling over, laughing. The hands of the clock form a lopsided mustache, indicating the early morning hour. A truck engine starts and sputters.
You talk about compromise like it’s some stick in the mud, some wound to be wasted, infected with oozing pessimism. Compromise like a world awakened and gone back to sleep. Eyes open and shut like cases, like a bag shaken out. I am empty and that’s all that’s left of me. But I want to breathe and believe in something other than magic and happenstance; Something other than Disney fantasy because happily ever after only goes as far as the camera zooms out and fades to black with grand orchestra, sweeping strings, lovely ballads made from consonant upbringings. I’m not saying it’s all gotta be painful and bad, but the story never just ends there. And even if you die alone in Tom Riddle’s house, there was certainly one person you meant in which you inhibited some memory. Imagination stretching outward, dancing darlings come, become crimson in their cheekbones after a long workout. I’m talking about college dorm rooms in November or December; Fresh snowfall and roommates gone home for the weekend. I’m talking letterman jackets and homemade sweaters, fireplace, hot chocolate, lovers gaze under low light. Youthful magic becoming more distant. We are comets, we are meteors, drifting away from the beginnings of our timelines in zero gravity. We are Tom and B’Elanna in spacesuits stranded, but hopefully cradling one another. And if we have to compromise to be there, so be it. There is nothing admirable about gargantuanly taking up space.
“Enjoy your day”, she said, departing the bakery with a white box in a white bag and a white dog in tow. The bell jangled on her way out the parking lot, where the parking lot teemed with cars; Cars belonging to people also going to bakeries, the back-to-school shopping, and picking up food for takeout. A strip mall on a weekend.
The drive back home is uneventful, this sweet delight in the front seat making the car smell buttery and delicious. A blueberry pie awaits inside, freshly made; Large granule cane sugar, caramelized, sits on top of the upper crust. There are little holes in the lattice, showcasing deep blue squares. The fruit cooks down to delicious gelatin once it’s heated and mixed with sugar. The way this must’ve bubbled in the oven. The anticipation of cutting a slice and cutting the tip with the side of your fork. Perfect with milk or coffee or tea. Food is medicine, even if all it does is cheer you up, or remind you of a memory with a lover and different pie.
What a strange thing to be alive and be human; To have blueberry pie be a thing. Knowing that perhaps there’s a parallel world out there where it’s not, where the blueberry plant did not survive evolution, or become extinct. Or maybe the dinosaurs ate them all. There always seems to be something festive about a pie. The sweet/tart explosion on taste buds and the smell of sugar and butter. Cinnamon and vanilla extract – which I recently saw a Barefoot Contessa video on how to make that fresh; Crazy, wild.
I am also partial to blueberry muffins and crisps and waffles and pancakes. Blueberries just taste so good with carbs. And are also great alone. I’ve been enjoying some with peach and yogurt and cereal lately. It’s like a morning time dessert.
Eyes wide as blueberry pies – That’s pretty wild (and wide). Going off what I need to know, marshaling, pooling my talents together, waiting for it to rain. Also recently saw an Instagram ad of a kind of handrake that combs through the branches of the blueberry tree(/bush?) and the berries fall into the bucket of this handrake. I had never seen anything like it before. Storebought, homemade.
Leather and the smell of straw on a cloudy, dark day. Horses whinny in the background as barn doors get unlocked and opened, undoing thick metal bolts and chains. These horses are all special and they all have names. Different colors and personalities. I only gone horseback riding a handful of times. It’s a painful recovery usually, but so much fun. Horses are majestic creatures and have this quiet knowledge and understanding and intuition about them. The last time I rode was in Massanutten, Virginia in…2016 I think it was. I had a horse named Billings. He was whitish grey with dark spots, and I had to continuously pull up his reins to focus on the path, as he would sometimes get distracted by smells and the desire to eat grass whenever he saw fit. My chinese horoscope sign is the Horse, and I always felt it suited me; It’s always felt accurate when it comes to my behavior. Always watching, sometimes shy and timid, late bloomer-esque. But smart, kind, compassionate, welcoming.
Saddles are heavy and hold stirrups. They become uncomfortable after long rides. I don’t know how John Wayne did it. Do you eventually get used to it after awhile? No wonder why whiskey was so popular; I’d also want to drink my ass off at the next town over, just to forget about the constant discomfort from sitting.
Underwater keepsakes. Hunting, diving, fishing, looking for shells, for stones, for sand. The water is murky and not clear. Influx of sodium abound and packs a punch to my already stimulated senses. It generates saliva. It makes me spit. Ocean water, salty and sure of itself for what it is. “Whale piss”. But salt is good for you – as long as you don’t overdo it long term.
At first the waves feel cool and cold against overheated, SPF’d skin. There is a tenseness, a trepidation at first. Hair follicles contract. Feet tell the brain: “Icy!” But after a toe comes a foot, and after a foot comes an ankle, and after an ankle comes a calf, which leads to a knee, which leads to the mid-thigh. But then it’s, “Okay, stop!” And now you’re feeling good, but what became bearable to your legs seems a little more unbearable to your upper self. Shuffling forward, your feet sink into course sand. The waves are at your belly now. The seagulls are calling. The lifeguard is watching. There is a din of kids about, splashing and playing and crying and calling out to one another. Goggles protect their eyes from sunscreen, from the irritating salty water of the deep. So that they can see for themselves how murky it is.
I remember once going to Point Pleasant with my dad when I was six. A wave knocked me down so hard and I could not get up. Seconds felt like agonizing eternities as I spun about, unable to resurface. My dad pulled me, my mouth full of seawater and tears, the taste of which I could not tell the difference. I cried and cried. We packed up our stuff. I recall a boardwalk ride that was like a school bus, 2D but going round and round. I think that was Point Pleasant and not Rehoboth in Delaware, where we did spend a few family vacations. These little pinpricks of trauma dot my existence and for better or worse shaped me into the adult I am today. I can still see the murky water, eyes open in fear taking in all around me. “Respect the ocean”, a past high school principal said on the eve of Prom. Chuckling abound in the auditorium as we were all immortal then, and knew no fear. Invincible teenage emotion is a pretty potent drug, it’s a pretty potent state of mind. I’m reminded of those of our graduating class who are no longer with us…Waterfronts and unwelcome sunrises that beam lights onto truth.