Friday, September 24, 2010

The Music With You

I put on a chunky gray sweater and stand on my balcony in the cold wind. It’s a purplish evening and I can smell the roasted cashews from the corner vendor and the wool of my sweater. I look across the street and into your window, olden Jew. From this distance I can’t hear the music your bow makes on the strings of the violin but the movement of your plucking and strumming holds my attention, your arms flailing like branches in a gale. I envy your poise, your mysterious movements and tilting grace.

Working late one evening, you come to mind and I worry. I imagine you performing for the furniture in your empty apartment and the dark mouth of your lonely window. And you slumping slowly to the floor, staring blankly – the small movements by which we know someone is alive disappearing altogether, and the music with you.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


You collect statues of Jesus. Line them neatly on every ledge in your shrinking flat. You arrange them – rearrange them until the order is right. One Jesus, two Jesus, red Jesus, blue.

You set the plastic sacred-heart Jesus on the mantle next to the-Lord-is-my-shepherd Jesus with bronzed lambs. You shift the three inch high replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta so their spoon-smooth faces capture the ambient light. You position, reposition, and position again until there’s a shape to the silence between you and the icons.

Even though you’re an atheist you believe in God. But you surmise he doesn’t believe in you. So, you gather his images and arrange them throughout the apartment. You require his manifest presence – his eyes on you.

You stand silent in the center of the room. Lift your hands shoulder high, palms out. Listen to the silent thunder of the Lord of hosts and know the statue alignment is ideal. Your mouth rarely smiles but inside your brain, you smile.

All eyes are on you. Reaching deep into your mouth and scooping out a prayer, you speak into the hush. You begin, “Now that I have your attention...”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Reading Kafka

The F train could have been the N and R train. You could have been wearing sweat pants, not a dress. It was pure luck I spotted you across the way – both of us reading Kafka. I tapped lightly on your shoulder as I passed. And though we’ve come to understand that we disagree about everything, that evening we agreed on a course of action: coffee, black.

It was a purplish evening and you kept saying that the moon was a womb, the birth place of stars. Like when you try to eat a bowl of soup when they give you a pair of chopsticks – I laugh like that. I shouldn’t have laughed, but I ached with wanting you and didn’t know what else to do.

The memory of us is beautiful to me. And though I’m expressing myself badly, I just want to remind you how it used to be when we quarreled like lovers, unlike the invisible fights we have now where it seems you’ve slipped beyond my reach, as if you’re tuned to another frequency. The knowledge of how far we’ve drifted has grown gradually in me, like a philosopher who reads Kafka again and again until suddenly he understands it for the first time.