For Eddie: Today I Went to See Horses


Today I went to see horses. I touched a horse through the stall bars, scratched him between the eyes, between his ears. I moved his forelock from his eyes, studied his eyelashes while he studied me. I patted his neck. Then I went to see the goats — two were on top of their houses, and they were serious, or so it seemed to me. I went back to my car, and seven ducks were beneath the car. Six geese flew across the sky. I came home to see a black and white cat that has been on the edges of my property for months, never letting me get near, but today he cried out and came toward me, surely a Tom with a big ole head and big ole feet. I put out a dish of food for him. He ate. My handyman, TJ, who was one of the window washers from three weeks ago, was here. He has been down on his luck. He is often hungry. He said, “I have a new friend.” I said, “Really.” He said, “Yeah, this chipmunk came out from around the side of your studio, and followed me all the way up the hill. I'd look at him, then he'd look at me.” I said, “TJ, I lost two friends this week. They died.” He said, “So you want me to keep out of your hair then, right?” I said, “No. I'm just sayin.” Then I showed him what I found at the dump. 1) a great metal tool box 2) a metal box that must have held some kind of glass slides, very cool looking  3) an old metal Maxwell coffee container. TJ said, “People will throw anything away."


The Window Washers

 I wanted to write about what once it had been like to tap into the energy that can be me----the purposeful mental singing, the quick turn of phrase, the spark of light and life that caused quick turn of heads, once, once.  

A crew of window washers arrived two days ago, and they brought such energy in their wake. They all seemed to like the job, the satisfying before and after of a task completed and the results so obvious. What must that feel like? I cannot even imagine what I could do right now that would compare to such an instant gratifying result.  

I turned on music for them, played DJ., picking for the first song Wrecking Ball, which only now do I see as funny. Very quickly after putting on the music, I heard a crash. What broke was not something cherished--and I quickly assured Josh that I wasn't upset; it was a glass lampshade, one that had balanced tenuously, a Goodwill purchase. He'd cried out as if caught at a game of tag—I did it I did it, he called to the house full of washers.

Josh has told me that he’s worked for Paul, the owner of North Adams Window Washing service, for twenty-six years. He looks around thirty, but I figured he'd started while in high school--so I would be twenty years older. As we picked up the shards, he told me that in all those years he had only broken one other thing. That was such a remarkable statement, such an astounding fact that I couldn’t think of a response.  Because I have MS, I drop things constantly; often things roll away after dropped and when I’m on all fours searching for the thing then I sometimes knock over a table and break other things.  

After we swept up the glass, I went back to music selection. Music to Wash Windows By….. I played Alabama Shakes, Bruce Springsteen, a few songs from Beast of the Southern Wild soundtrack—which I realized right away was not a window washers' favorite. There was a palpable group deflate. 

Josh looked around the room where I sat with the computer in my lap.
This is voodoo stuff? All this? Right? As he asked he swept his hand across the room where there are what I call altars, or sometimes I speak of them as shrines—wooden constructions filled with all sorts of stuff—toys, cut-outs, twigs, ribbons, feathers, mirrors.  
Yes, I said, I’m from Louisiana.
Cool, cool, he said, and then said he'd never been many places, that he’d been outside of New York City—for Yankees games-- once or twice--but was nervous about going into New York.  I wasn’t surprised. I’ve been told by several people in Williamstown—a three-hour drive to NYC—that they’ve never been, don’t want to go.  

I can’t imagine.

I tried to think about why this young man would not want to venture out further afield.  

Suddenly—and to my complete, honest to god surprise—I wanted to kiss him.

He must have felt some shift in the atmosphere because he said his girlfriend liked to go out, get dressed up and do things she saw on reality tv. 
Like what? I wanted to know.  
Like nice dinners, he said.  She watches The Kardashians, he said. 
He watches The Game of Thrones.
Take her to a nice restaurant, I said. Please take her, I begged, surprised at my passionate plea. I was overcome with the need to convince him to romance this woman, court her, take her to hear music, take her to art galleries and movies, to restaurants overlooking mountains, restaurants where strange appetizers are served.  

As he wiped down another window, I played Wrecking Ball again, closed my eyes and sang along with Miley for a bit.  I came in like a wrecking ball/ Yeah I just closed my eyes and swung/ Left me crashing in a blazing fall......

Later as he was packing up his glass cleaning equipment, he said, You've got some spirit to you. 
I saw you, he said. I saw you moving to that music.  Then as his boots sounded on the stairs like a pony in full flight, he said, You must have been something else in your day.  
I was, I called down from my perch.  I really was.

The Broken Wrist, The Break in Trust

    I’d climbed the cherry laurel, reached for the rope tied on a topmost branch and swung across from branch to branch, a feat I’d managed many times. But this time I fell to earth.

My wrist was broken, a bad break, the kind that made a mother turn her head away, grab a dish towel, call the father who came home,rushed me to the hospital, delivered me to the ER, where I was placed on a gurney and wheeled into a white room lit by giant metal bright lights. The light as bird, stick-thin eleven-year-old tomboy that was me, the center of this universe. 

    Told to count to ten, I gasped through the sweet smell of the ether, an undertow, which swept me into weightless dreams filled with puzzles, the pieces coalescing as if a kaleidoscope, my mind asleep more awake than ever, watching the display of a vivid jumble, a brain tornado where I, the I no longer tied completely to the me, was whiplashed through the chaos of a mind untethered. 

    The drug—later the doctor called it the “truth serum”, and that it was, giving me a revelatory trip inside my mind— a mine!—a place of exploration where I and me wandered through the thoughts which before as in BEFORE there was a me, were hidden like fishes in the coral reefs of the cerebellum, through the corpus callosum; but now as in NOW and THEN and ALWAYS at ONCE I and me swam between the hemispheres, left and right, a true meeting of the minds, a wind rushing through the open windows, telling me the secrets of the universe--which I've forgotten, mostly but not completely--I remember the weightlessness of logic life.

    The doctor laughed as he walked beside the stretcher after it was over. I know your secrets, he said, and looked just like a Cheshire Cat. But it was never over and he didn't know my secrets and he shouldn't have said such a thing to a young girl but I remember, I remember, I remember always what he said--I know all your secrets, with his man hand on my shoulder and with those words the worm he planted in my mind ,that before as in BEFORE this day of broken in two, I didn't know you could be known against your will. This was the truth, the bitter truth of falling back to earth.