Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Sacred Bookstore

In the sacred bookstore we kneel in the aisles to turn the pages of our scripture. Our voices drop to a hush. Our eyes look downward. We all turn off our phones. My daughters float in baptismal gowns reading about fairies and girls who tame wolves. My wife searches for words about her pain, lips moving, eyes nearly closed. My mother reads to my father in a whisper that carries. Priests and nuns, rabbis and imams, saints and sinners gather in the sacred bookstore. They pass notes and collection baskets. Sip coffee and eat wafer thin biscuits. Outside, cars roar through the streets. The market is down. Politicians stand on street corners shouting their way to salvation. The sky itself falls. In the sacred bookstore clerks murmur an incantation. The customers respond. We all say amen. I look up to the vaulted ceiling. Frescoed on the stone, God hands Adam an apple. Eve sits nearby, reading a book, paying them no mind. I kiss the binding of my book. Close my eyes. And pray the words written inside the pages.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Daylight Savings

In the dark morning after the time change you wonder about all the lies you’ve been told. Work hard and you’ll succeed. True love lasts. Father knows best. There is a God. You have tried hard to believe in these things. But the light is gone from the morning and the clocks are all wrong. You’re awake but not hungry. You just know you should be somewhere else. You aren’t sure where. You’re no longer sure who you were meant to be. You feel alone and out of time. So you stand very still. In the kitchen. Facing the window over the sink. Arms stretched out away from your body. Toes pointed. That’s when you feel it. The Earth. Your home. It spins on its axis. You feel the shape of that sphere below you. There’s the sun at the center of things. The galaxy of its sister stars. The universe that is everything. And there you are. When you open your eyes, the morning sun has dawned. Your heart beats a steady rhythm in perfect standard time.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Cat Told Me She Was Dead

The cat told me she was dead. My mother. I looked into the cat's eyes. How would you know? I asked. And how would you tell me. The cat said again, She is gone. I waited, but cats don’t elaborate. The cat bit at its claws. It licked its paw clean. The cat shook its head. It blinked, then stared at me. I tried to stare back. But you know how cats are. They’ve had more practice. I didn’t stand a chance. Looking down, I saw that the floor needed sweeping. So much hair. I couldn’t remember when I had last mopped. And the dishes, the drainboard, the ketchup spilled inside the fridge. I wondered what my mother would have thought of these things. How had she gone so wrong with me. I felt her disappointment. And I felt the phone ringing in my pocket. The cat walked out of the room. It found a place in the sun and lay down. I looked at the phone and saw that it was my mother calling. From the other room, I heard the cat say, I wouldn’t answer that. Some things you trust your cat about.