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.
“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.
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.
Launching upwards at the opal sky, aliens watch and wait, indecisive and twiddling their many opposable thumbs. The androgyny of the astronaut suit or costume; Genderless. Bulky and broad in shape. So much risk involved to launch oneself quite literally out of this world. There is no sound or smell or breeze in space. It is nothingness where stars go to die. And it is in this graveyard where the stars know and have forgotten everybody’s name. Because it doesn’t matter. Because all there is is this upward void, beautiful as it is.
I think of Tang juice pouches and their powdered predecessors. I think of the dehydrated ice cream at the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. I think of the future, the sour/sweet of it all. The unexpected textures love and loss will bring. Experiencing hues throughout Life’s journey.
If I were an astronaut, my heart would beat out of my chest. How could you ever sleep before, during, or after launch? The future forever changed. Time-release LSD. No sunlight, too many buttons, pristine metal fixtures. Are there bunks and cots? Do you sleep standing up connected to some wire? All the science must swim strong in your brain; You gotta think up there; It’s not just about living the day-to-day. There are no creature comforts in orbit. Mind melts at the thought.
Ah, but to see Earth from a circular window, perfectly ensconced in the sun’s glow; Perhaps that would all be worth it. To live with that rise and set, that constant companionship. I think of blue whales, friendly and comforting. I think of partnership and thanks. Regulars don’t get or understand just how special this amazing thing is. Marvelous design. I hope I don’t put it to shame.
Creaks on the hull. Ship in danger. Parachuting falls millions of miles. A terrifying colorful scheme. Too high, too high, too high. Stomach does somersaults on the descent. You do your own confession, make your peace with God, willingly watch the Kodak slides of your life, praying you’re not skipping over the good parts, and tell the little voice wondering quietly aloud, “What might it be like to die?”, to please be quiet.
Hair grooming accessories like monsters have many teeth. And they can be equally vicious when working to detangle and get the knots out. I recall this hell as a kid. My mom always directing the menace. Now (though my hair is short), I don’t struggle as much. Even when my hair was long it wasn’t that big of a deal. When I was younger, my hair used to be volumous, curly, wavy, huge. But I got older. Time moved forward in a linear fashion like Nyan Cat stretching on forever (yet never eating his Pop-Tart body), the oxygen filled my lungs and dried my skin. Boa constrictors lived and died on jungle floors in the Amazon, shedding skin, hunting and capturing their prey, slowly digesting and laying eggs. And I, here, grew older. We all did. Except you, Benjamin. Every morning and sometimes evenings I pull the comb through. After the shower I pull the comb through wet hair. In the summer, I don’t do a damn thing but sleep on it damp and have the night have its way with it while I dream of dead relatives and a work commute I have long forgotten. The Conair light purplish/silvery comb. The comb I’ve had for years and years, the black one my mom has had for longer. With the white gums and the red teeth. It’s like Halloween or Christmas. I wonder sometimes how the plastic becomes molded. It must start out soft before hardening. Who engineered it? Patented? What a revolutionary idea for people to tame their manes, especially during a time when lice was more prevalent. Messy mornings with a spilled yolk and cold egg whites. Lukewarm toast still soggy holding melted butter. Hair gel after morning sex. Slicking it back like it’s the 1950s. The acceleration of technology and talking wires. Linemen and trains. All plain colors fit for a Puritan. Thick history book sandwich with no meat. Sometimes headaches come when you’re not even hungry. Morning routine remains sacred and unchanged. Military-fashion. Always making your bed.