When I walked out of rehearsal last night, a bat flickered overhead. The air still hot, sky smoke-red from wildfires in British Columbia. Play rehearsal is in the suburbs, and the drive there and back is a drive through a parallel universe, as if my old life had been dropped among the Tualatin Mountains.
I spend time that I should be writing (should, should, should) reading about the Boring Lava Fields, basalt, geology. I am reading, for the first time, Dante’s Inferno.
On Wednesday, the temperature gauge in my car read 110 degrees. My air conditioner stopped working.
All I could taste was smoke. I went to bed nauseated, my head pounding.
The West Hills—the Tualatin Mountains—and the Cascades are almost invisible; a hazy cloud hangs over the whole city. I don’t know how people who live in smoggy cities do it—running this morning (slow and with lots of breaks even though it was only three miles) about did me in.
But if I hadn’t run, things would have been worse: the combination of finally finding a bra that fits (in an obscene and BIGGER THAN I HAVE EVER THOUGHT MYSELF TO BE AND I AM NOT A PORN STAR size) and a photograph of me singing Wednesday night is enough to trigger eating-disorder brain. It doesn’t take much to flip that switch, though.
Turning 40 has made me uneasy, uncertain in my skin. I have the life I have always dreamed of: smart and funny and talented and loving and kind partner, children who are also smart and funny and talented and loving and kind. I live in a city that I chose, that feels like home. But my body continues to soften, despite running (thought running helps calm my crazy-brain, helps me feel like my body and I are, if not one and the same, at least on the same team). But my left temple is rapidly populated with grey hair. But my face is lined and no cashier even pretends to want to see my ID to purchase alcohol, but I am no longer the youngest person in choir/youngest professor/youngest member of the board.
I, animal. Thank god(des). But being animal means being mortal.
I sent my manuscript off to the poet/editor who will be editing my second book, Animal Bride, today. I hadn’t read the manuscript in ages. It is another kind of a dream to be working with her, with this press, that this book will be out in the world.
It is evening and I am drinking wine on the porch while D and R watch Life of Brian and I hope that maybe I will see a bat here even though it is the city and I can hear traffic moving on the road behind us.
I picked the first tomatoes, cucumbers, a half-dozen zucchini. I love this garden so much. Every time I move the hoses, lift the leaves of the zucchini to see if there are more, push my finger in the soil to see if it is dry, I think of my father and grandfather and their gardens, how my dad would come from work and water the garden every night and bring in armfuls of zucchini, cucumber, tomato. I ate the first tomato, greedily, seconds from pulling it from the plant, the flesh still warm.
Eventually the heat will break.
Eventually I will be able to write something other than a list instead of a poem (perhaps the list is the poem).
The sky tonight is pearl, pink. I no longer taste smoke. The wet garden smells of earth, tomato, basil.
In exactly 20 days, Jonah will be home. My boy. My heart.