Cat Poem #2
purr and stretch--
crossing the sunlight,
cutting into blanket
Excerpt from Personal Narrative, "Remembering the Sound of Silence"
The first thing I remember is the guitar— the sound of it, the music coming from the hollow in the middle, the soft pressure of the man’s idle fingers, the swaying of the man himself, enveloped in sound. I could hear my mother in the kitchen, cleaning the remains of dinner off of the dirtied plates. We had left the television on during dinner that night, since nearly all of the major networks were airing the live coverage of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks made on the World Trade Centers ten years earlier. I was alone in the living room, sitting on the far left side of the couch, closest to the television.
That’s when the guitar began. I had never seen the man before, though I liked the way he looked; he had sincere eyes. I saw something in them so beautiful that made me want to cry. He didn’t sing at first. That was all right, the guitar was enough, I thought. He picked at the strings of his guitar and wavered, lost-like, full of sadness and feeling. He wore a blue baseball hat with the words “9/11 Memorial” on it. It was a nice hat, I thought to myself. Dark blue and somber-looking. I remember that hat.
He neared the microphone and began to sing, softly, almost whispering, “Hello, darkness, my old friend…” There was something oddly familiar about those words right away— he continued, and I listened, helplessly. The camera was then on to a close-up of the guitar, which slowly panned up to those fascinating eyes, staring off into the distance, into the sad, burdened crowd, all mourning their lost loved ones. It was then that I noticed his hands. His right hand, which was busy picking at the songbird strings, revealed to me his fingernails, growing long and slightly pointed as to attach themselves to the strings, making his picking an easier endeavor, I was sure. His left-hand fingernails were much shorter, so as not to get in the way of pressing the chords down, I thought. It was an odd arrangement, I remember thinking. Having long nails on the right hand and short ones on the left seemed silly to me, but his playing sure was clear. I remember those nails. It was a pretty song— “Why do I know this?” I suddenly said aloud.
“What’s that?” My mother had peaked her head around the corner. She walked to the carpet, then said, “Ah, Paul Simon. Such a sweet sound.” She stood there with her arms tightly crossed, shoulders up near her chin, head to the side, a slight smile on her lips. She was remembering. She was thinking of good thoughts, reminiscing past times, all sparked by this man’s “sweet sound”. She sighed.
So that’s who this is, I thought to myself. I looked again to the television screen and tucked my knees to my chest, holding them closely. As he played he let his head move as if on its own, letting it sway like it was searching for something in the air, in the crowd. But his eyes stayed still, motionless to his body’s movement. I searched those eyes for as long as I could, then broke away whenever his voice would perform a crystal lilt, the sound a flower would make could it sing. I remember that voice. I looked to my mother again.
“Have I heard this before? Who is he?” I felt my voice break a little as I spoke, but hoped she wouldn’t notice. I couldn’t seem to figure why I was feeling the way I was. My eyes were serious. My interest in the man was growing.
Excerpt from "Mon Soleil"
We made our way to a large white room which glowed an intense light on the framed paintings scattered throughout. Tam seemed to be glowing all by herself, her neck uplifted as she gazed around the place, as one does when inspiration and awe hits, and it seemed that she let that emotion drive her forward, leading her from painting to painting. Harry stood with arms crossed, meeting with various paintings quickly, sternly, ever the curator.
“Look at that!” Tam rushed across to the far end of the big room and stood directly in front of an abstract Picasso painting, “Verre et Pichet”. She walked backwards slowly until she hit the wooden bench behind her, and sat down there, her eyes never leaving the painting.
“Look at all those angles, all that shading… it’s lovely,” she sighed it more than anything. Tam had a way about her— she spoke almost childishly, like a curious little orphan. I often wondered if she was stupid. But I couldn’t hold on to that thought for long— she thought too seriously, too inquisitively to be dumb. Then I would think maybe she was some sort of Zen master, some reincarnated Buddha that spent her long days in lazy Indian fields, chanting and singing mantras along the banks of the Ganges River. She was ghostly in every move— delightfully quick and slow in the same instant. Her eyelids reminded me of some old Bukowski poem— “I am good at almost watching you”, it reads. Tam is like that. Never quite looking at you, never quite looking away.
Harry soon sauntered over, and casually glanced at the painting. The three of us stood there for a moment, watching time itself lapse over the angular grooves and shadows of the glass and pitcher portrayal. I didn’t say a word. Harry looked bored. Tam, sensing Harry’s presence behind her, spoke up.
“Doesn’t it look like a face?”
“It’s not a face”, he deadpanned.
“But doesn’t it look like it?”
“Sure,” he said, then walked off alone, stubbornly. He only wanted to look at his watch--
I swallowed up some of the silence but couldn’t take it any longer; it was as if she had been hit across the face, his words knocking the tears right out of her. I had to think of something nice.
“I—I think it looks sort of like a cloud. I mean, a cloud that looks like a face. I think it looks like a face, too. I think it was bright of you to say that” I stammered foolishly, but she tilted her head slightly in a silent thanks.
She looked up at me with those big moon eyes, absurdly filled with the warmth of a thousand loving gazes— I don’t know how she did it, but she managed a smile, and said quietly, “Thanks”. Her long neck stretched towards me, then fell back down to the painting. It really did look like a face, especially if you squinted.
Excerpt from "Rambling Journal of the Recently Departed"
In the morning there is a taste of apple in the air. I drink at
it, eagerly. Everyday I spend a nickel to remember— What leaves me is the name of the day I had first seen you. This part isn’t important. I see the thought of me in you like a rising sun. The feeling spindles between your veins, your very bones. It flowers out of your stomach. Your eyes are made of glass and they glisten in the moonlight. I can tell when you think of me. I open the window and the wind comes from my heart and covers you, for an instant, but not too long. I am careful not to suffocate. I am only passing by. The echoes return in my bones and I wish to follow the sun all at once in a forever path, and I think, this is it then, I have departed.
— the new sky smiles upon me.