Last night you set the dough. A friend from so long ago you can’t remember when you last saw him, a friend who taught your children art, is driving up to have dinner. Last night, the dough. This morning, shaping and make dimples to hold good olive oil, rosemary from the pots on the deck, some coarse salt from Sicily. Sun hovers outside. Dark clouds too. What will your friend remember of those years? What have we all forgotten?
You stood on a damp mulched path and cut stalks of rhubarb. A robin nearby pulled a worm from the soil where you planted new raspberry canes, tied up a few strays that got missed in the first round. Long red stalks, their leaves smoothed over the compost. Washed and trimmed, they wait for you to chop them with strawberries, they wait for their topping of oats and sweet butter, a drizzle of vanilla from Madagascar. In the old gardens in Fairfield, the widows grew rhubarb, bringing bags to my mother who stewed it with brown sugar. In the old gardens, rhubarb grew, and deep-rooted sorrow, a bag brought to the door.
The orchid cactii have made their summer journey from sunroom to deck, hanging from a trellis with shells and a copper lizard. Already the hummingbirds have found them. I have been sad beyond words, living in a grey world, and now I look up from my work to see the blossoms opening to the day. Today I will make food for us to eat outside, I’ll chill wine, cut salad from the tubs of arugula, lettuce, kale, and parsley, I will ask the sadness to wait awhile before entering my heart.
Shells are turning in the morning air. I don’t have a harp, I don’t have a flute, I have a shruti box that drones like a whale, deep-throated. I have a book of Rumi.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.