I should be writing about other things. Other people, other places. But here I am.
Tim tells me thunder and lightning woke him at 5 AM. I slept right through it, knocked out by this cold I’ve been nursing all week.
“Sheesh, Mary and Jeremy finished that new sewer line just in time.” I’m wrapped in a blanket on the couch, my hands wrapped around my coffee mug, as I think about the giant trench the workers filled just two days ago. Yesterday morning, before the storms began, I watched from the front porch as Jeremy laid two one-by-sixes across the fresh-packed dirt so his downstairs tenant could reach the apartment door. What if the workers hadn’t finished yet? We got two inches of rain in two hours yesterday afternoon.
Tim leaves for work. I clean up, dress, read The New Yorker, play some Jimmy Giuffre. “The Train and the River” goes well with wet, chilly days. There’s a velvety grayness to it.
On my desk, a neat pile of poems I need to revise. Notebooks I need to go through, looking for tidbits to cull for poems. Books I should shelve. It’s a crowded desk.
I’m not about to go out to the porch in this weather, but I peer through the sweet olives outside the window at Mary and Jeremy’s muddy trench. Beautiful mud, I want to hold a clod of it. These tracts were once owned by a Monsieur Marly, a free man of color who sold them off to developers. Before this was a neighborhood, it was land for small farms; not far from here, there were all the minor industries associated with railroads and barge companies. And before all that: marshland. I learned from an old cookbook that local hunters would bring back fish, game, and fowl from these parts, for their own homes or to sell. I learned from my friend Alaina, a member of the Houma tribe, that for a long time, most of those hunters were Native people.
While thinking about all this, I’ve eaten a bowl of pasta with fresh marinara sauce and mild Italian sausage. Now I’m washing dishes, looking out the kitchen window at the Japanese magnolia, stark against the back fence. Either there are fewer blooms this year or they’re opening more slowly. Tomorrow’s freeze might finish them.
Tomorrow will mark eleven months of the pandemic. Also one year since a friendship I cherished crashed and burned.
Tim calls. “How are you feeling? Should I come home early or keep working?”
“Come home. We can go for a walk.”