Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Spring of My Content

At seven forty-five, he called the room, just like he promised the night before, and at five after eight, he knocked at the door. I answered, wrapped in the stiff white hotel towel, still damp and slightly steaming from the shower.

“I’m not ready,” I apologized. “I tried.”

“That’s OK.” He rubbed my chin and bent over for a fast, open-mouthed kiss. “We’re important. They’ll wait.” He sat on the bed, not talking about the night before, because that was something we didn’t talk about. We would have to spend the entire day not talking about it. We had spent years not talking about it.

He watched the towel slip to the ground as I knelt to dig around in my bag. My naked body, softer and slacker than it had been all those years ago, still held his attention. “Oh!” I cursed, softly. “I was going to iron this blouse.”

And he leaned down, plucked the wrinkled fabric from my hand. Still kneeling on the ground, I watched him slide an ironing board from the closet, an iron from a clip set in the wall. He unfolded the ironing board, plugged in the iron, and watched me drying my legs as I watched him. By the time I’d extracted bra and panties and stockings from my bag, he was pressing my blouse, thick hands dwarfing the iron so you could almost imagine him smoothing the wrinkles with the strength of his fingers.

“Thanks,” I said. “If you couldn’t guess, I suck at ironing.” And he nodded his head, a silent acknowledgment that spoke of all the things we could not talk about.

There, I felt a heat that surpassed the greatest moments we had shared, dozens of nights in dozens of hotel rooms. Now, the pure and unadulterated care of his big hands, ironing my little blouse because he wanted me to look professional at his side, although I was anything but, overwhelmed any false detachment. Naked, I smiled, my eyes gulping up the scene as I struggled into the stockings.

If I could have held that moment, isolated it from all others and stretched it into infinity, I might have chosen to live there, in the small quiet gesture of his love.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Grow! Grow! Grow!

There is a kabalistic belief that beside the least blade of a grass, there floats a tiny angel, trumpeting the message, “Grow! Grow! Grow!” Some take this as an expression of the ubiquitous divine that compels all life, but others argue for a literal interpretation.

Lirzazel paused in the threshold, grasping the edges of dawn, and hovered with one foot in night and the other in day. Then he stepped through to sunlight and took up the trumpet. “Morning! Awaken! Live!” the trumpet said. The spirits of the night departed.

A single dewdrop clung to the green stalk. Would it run down to the ground and become one with the soil, or evaporate and become one with the air? Could that mere piece of grass incorporate its moisture through osmosis? Lirzazel blasted the trumpet again. “Drink! Live! Grow!” the trumpet said.

Through the rising sun, the trumpet sang a morning song, a photosynthesizing song, and a heliotropic song. The blade of grass perked up, stood straight, and struggled against gravity and entropy to continue the act of self-creation and reach for the light. The little angel sighed into the trumpet and the spirit-brass hummed back, “Grow! Grow! Grow!”

After noon, the angel wiped its metaphorical brow and watched the white light flood the field where it worked. The blade of grass groaned under the searing power, and the angel drew creative inspiration from the divine and played a drinking song, encouraging the grass to suck up moisture through its roots. The grass pulled at the soil and waved gratefully to Lirzazel. Lirzazel played a green song, ending with a chorus of, “Grow! Grow! Grow!”

Just before dusk, a rabbit nipped off the tip of the blade of grass. The creature hopped away, and the grass shuddered. “Heal!” Lirzazel’s horn sang. “Heal and grow! Grow and heal!” The grass bowed in gratitude.

Lirzazel could have played long into the darkness, but angels of the day did not do that. Just as another chorus of “Grow! Grow! Grow!” ended, a spirit of the night tapped Lirzazel’s metaphorical shoulder.

“Quittin’ time,” the night spirit said. “I’ll take it from here. See ya tomorrow.”

Lirzazel let the horn drop from the metaphorical mouth, nodded at the night spirit, and crossed over to the other world without lingering on the threshold of dusk. Home, the angel withdrew the equivalent of a beer from the ether and stretched out on a cloud, taking a deep, reflective sip. The angel couldn’t wait for tomorrow.