Sunday, March 13, 2016

When you come home later in the night, when the town has gone to bed, you see things.  In the quiet.  Because there's not much to observe, there are the other things to notice.  After a rain, or a covering of ice, you see how the branches of the trees planted along the street reach out in circular embrace to the street lamps, each lamp an orb, each tiny tendril of branch coming from the larger forming a circle, a solar system.   Something noticed only at night, the observation lending itself to the witness of a person on a bicycle, riding home, after his shift.  In the light, the branches of trees shine when wet.  It is more dramatic when the water has frozen into a perfect covering.  But the observation is there, an obvious thing, like many things are obvious, but a thing unnoticed, not worth science, but a thing art would observe in a little piece, how perfectly circular, how orbit like, how tender the agreement, how a rooted being, a tree, would in the night under the false conditions of the city embrace the light of a street lamp and hold it as a mini-sun, a nourishing thing, and not with one selfish branch grasping straight, but with an agreement.  A mystery of the night, making perfect sense.  Trees not near any lamps unaffected.

The writer who was now nothing but a barman, a restaurant worker, a waiter, a server, a glorified lackey, a hired man, was on his way home on a yellow mountain bike with nubby tires that whirred when he drafted off the slipstream of a late night bus.    He had done all his closing duties, taking apart the Francis Francis small Illy capsule espresso machine that sat on a cutting board placed on the top of stove.  He had put the cutting boards through the dishwasher, the last glasses, the rubber bar matts, the neoprene.  He had wiped the two screens of the POS system free of fingerprints.  He tied up the trash bag, with food scraps and citrus and receipts and bread, and taken it downstairs along with the little laundry basket of spent white cloth napkins.  The kitchen was dark.  It was raining outside.  He undid the bolt of the yellow back door of the kitchen, down the metal steps with tread and lifted the lid on the garbage bin that was not already full.  He had gotten all of that done.

What is it?  Do we think sometimes that we are younger than we are?  Was it not the case that Gary Cooper was fifty years of age when he plays the Sheriff in High Noon?  Is that not one's own age, unless one is so much a Buddhist that such things don't matter.  There's the eery music, of Dmitri Tiomkin's creation, and where is the threat coming from?  The train?  The past?  Is it from globalization, the flatness of the earth, is it from the unstoppable march toward whatever is high-tech, quick, seemingly easy, is it from China, is it from one's own lazy and poor decisions of the past and a million ticks of the bad habits...  Is it the nature of money and time and wages and the need to best all that in a competitive place...  Was it a political issue, a political problem, a need to engage in the democracy...  What was it?  What had he done or not done?

And then he was home.  There was the television.  There were the dishes to do, to have enough mugs for the morning and a general sense of tidiness in the kitchen.  The little trees along the street had the sun, but they also had the street lamps.  What was that to us, the street lamp's light?  Facebook?  Some form of connection in the middle of the night, or maybe a piece on history, like how Lincoln gained the Presidency on a good history on CNN.

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