No I Am Not Drunk, Just Weary
By 6p.m. I want to be drunk. I have been raking leaves for over three hours. If you count yesterday’s raking, that’s about six hours total and I kid you not – I am not even one third of the way done. But I stop because it is dark out and it’s raining. The neighbors are terrified of fires and according to them and the US Forest Service, a “defensible space” of no less than thirty feet should be cleared from all buildings. The idea is to avoid the chances of a spark from the stovepipe igniting a pile of dried leaves on the property. It’s a completely sane, safe, regulation and I trust USFS memorandums over the thin weight of my few years heating with wood.
But thirty feet? I ask the neighbors for clarification. “So if I’m raking in the thick rhododenrum brush, I need to get the piles of leaves way under the plants, too? The big piles jammed up against the mountain laurel roots, as well?” I try to sound open and willing. This is, after all, for my barter. I have no right to complain. I am the luckiest person, I tell myself. I have been given an immeasurable gift, I repeat again in my head. I will do whatever it takes to keep this barter arrangement because it is intrinsically tied to my time to give the writing life. I will do whatever it takes.
What it takes is crawling around belly-down on the forest floor, underneath the thickets (you know, where you see the squirrels mawing acorns and the rabbits licking their bellies). I scrape the leaves away from the base of the plants by hand, layer after layer after layer. I paw them backwards towards a clearing. Then I rake all around the plants, and my piles grown and grow. Then I rake that onto tarps and haul the tarps. All of this I don’t mind, except for the clawing at the ground aspect, which seems unnecessary to me.
I try to remember yesterday’s post – that there are lives in those leaves, that in order to do work I must stay present, that being a grump makes life no fun, that if I could only stay with my breath the length of this task would seem like merely a blip in time.
I try. But then again, I find myself wanting to be drunk at 6pm. This is a rare yet absolutely vivified feeling. I need away.
Cam calls and says he believes that it’s possible to fall in love with love, but that he no longer believes in the really hit-ya-in-the-face all-at-once sort love. “I just don’t buy it anymore, Schultzy.” We talk poems, which leads to more talk of love, and then we talk about the desperation of single-twenty-somethings-in-the-mountains-syndrome, which we both know well. The thing is we’re both seeing people now, and both mildy confused by that fact yet intrigued at the same time. And most of all, we both pay allegiance to words as if they were a parent on the death bed: Never leave my side.
Words like drugs like poetry is anyway, like wanting to be drunk at six-oh-clock-at-friggin-night, like kissing the stars through loft windows, like knowing what you need to do for yourself and not doing it, like eating too much chocolate before bedtime, like sad sappy slow folk songs (the only ones I like to play, unless it’s BobbyD, in which case I’ll play anything), like the pile of papers and letters and phone calls all yet unreturned on my desk, like how I haven’t talked to Huck in two months, or Vondy in one, or Vic in two weeks or how Richelle is so patient and keeps calling and always, I am busy, busy, busy (and she’s the one in law school, for god’s sake).
Like this and that and snares of poems rattling in my brain with no way out or like how I still hate Keroac’s On the Road or how I’m falling in love with a nineteenth century depressive poet (Thomas Hardy) or how maybe, someday, I’ll give up on the ups and downs of life and unfurl into some wiser horizon that lives unswayed by the tides of humanism.