Still cold, very cold but getting used to it. Dark early, coffee hot and bitter but good, Christmas tree still up, and sometimes in the early morning I light it and drink the hot coffee, sit by the Chinese red lamp, and think.
Today is New Year’s day, I believe, old calendar, Julian. Happy New Year! Then after New Year’s there would be another big celebration the 18th or 19th to celebrate Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan. I remember an image of a huge icy cross being lifted from the Dnieper River, the cross dyed red with beet juice….
Walked outside and everything is all silvery hoar frost misty and foggy like an old English town. I would love to live in an old English village somewhere with old stone walls, old grumpy men and women drinking delicious tea and climbing frozen hills with their big old English dogs, tapping the ground with old knobby English canes. Having a pint at an old timbered pub and going home in the dark alone unafraid under a torrent of blazing stars in a black sky.
Walked past park. The trees have that thin coating of icing, on each and every branch, on each and every pine needle, that gives them a magical look, you almost expect the elves and fairies to appear or hang from the heavily crusted branches. The whole town looks frosted over and misty and I felt I was sleepwalking. The grasses in the park bent over by the heavy dew that froze them in all manner of abstract poses, the Cypress trees a brown iridescent color like trout in Scottish streams…. patches of grass here and there peeking out of snow looking like frozen horse hair, mountains of snow from parking lots looking like mammoths in the tundra, the snow black as tar all along the roads, clogged with cars and cars and cars a sea of cars with no where to go.
A man in a red puffy parka walks ahead of me. This is the same man who has walked past my house the last ten years or so, and walked in front of me coming home from the train station late at night. He is a young man but walks so SLOWWWW…..SLOWWW… I used to curse him silently at night when he walked in front of me for his slowness, his torpidity, his lack of energy. I am so much older and my step was always brisk and sharp and quick and his plodding seemed to zap me of every ounce of energy I had those many long nights ago. Now, I walk like a bag of old bones like a ghost like a sick old half dead woman, dragging my bad leg along the icy sidewalk like poor Quasimodo of Notre Dame. I am sorry young man for cursing you so long ago! Now it is me who walks and drags the energy out of this day and night.
Waiting alone at the bus stop again alongside the sea of cars. Why do these cars depress me so? Such a long line of cars, all spouting exhaust that blows it seems, only at me.
Sleepless night. Worry again. Bad news again. Everybody sick everybody in hospital everybody woe is me again.
All the ladies at work sitting in the lobby cackling again. Complaining, and whining and moaning and groaning again. Bad pay bad job eating poison again. I am a jester testing the kings food so he may not be poisoned again. That is my job testing testing testing. Testing testing testing, oh the FDA is my friend again. No harm done all is good the King can eat and you may go home again.
Home. Close door. Lock it tight. Do not answer phone, door, e-mail, mail.
Suddenly a great calm is flooding the rooms drifting like gas like melting snow and pure air. I see jesters dancing ladies in waiting waiting and a Kingly man ruling. Some old madrigal is on a harpsichord, the music is rippling. Happy and gentle and exciting at the same time.
I eat my lunch which is almost good except for the corn tortillas which are not the good ones from real Mexican grocery stores. They are from my upscale store down the block and they taste of food preservatives. They are poison.
I start weeping as I eat them, thinking about my mother and the last meal I made myself, that I remember, the week she died. I made some tiny English peas cooked with a little butter and salt and pepper a tiny bit of shredded lettuce like MFK Fisher used to do. I scrambled eggs with a little cream and butter, stirring them slowly, slowly, on a low low flame, also like MFK Fisher said to do. I made of circle of peas on a white china plate and I put the creamy hot scrambled eggs inside like a little nest. I poured a very very cold Alsatian wine in a thin long stemmed goblet and I ate and drank this dish and this wine and the phone rang and rang and I did not answer because even then I was tired of old age and sickness and death.
I sit here weeping listening to Madrigals and remember the hoary woods I passed on the way to work. The quiet. The thousands of tall skinny trees and pines all bare of leaves some old trunks scattered on the ground leaning on the ground leaning on other trees, some with layers of ice and snow thick as whipped cream, All misty and silvery and grey. The woods I could peer into them far far away and feel the quiet the stillness and the cold hoary frost ice peace of it. Oh I wish I had the nerve to get off the bus and go and sit on the bench like an old Indian of old or some pilgrim before the west was won. Sit down and maybe freeze like statue and there I would be all ice and hoary frost. Instead I go to work with the cackling hens. I can say that because I am a woman and I cackle too, but when someone tells me to shut up at work I shut up. I work with women who never shut up and that is why I want to go and freeze in the woods.
Sitting at the table still weeping. Wishing I could just drink an entire bottle of wine. Why? Because it is like Richard Burton once said, when someone asked him why he drinks so much: “Because life is so beautiful and it is so sad.”
Suddenly I remember there is ice cream in the refrigerator. Stracciettella. Oh Joy! I go and grab the ice cream, scoop out three huge spoonfuls into a little yellow bowl, and I sit at the dining room table in front of my mother’s ashes and I weep, because the ice cream is so good so creamy, it was already soft, because the fridge is not working properly. It was like eating snow and clouds and air and whipped cream and all the sweet baby dreams I ever had.
Water! Hot water! I will take a hot bath and I will weep there. Hot water. What a luxury. I remembered visiting Ukraine years ago and so wanting to take a hot bath and the poor woman of the house felt so sorry for me. She boiled and boiled and boiled water on the stove for hours so I could have a little hot bath. Here I turn on the tap and Viola!!! Hot water. Hot bath in the middle of the afternoon, you poor stupid little cackling hen, what do you have to feel sorry for? Yes, what indeed and I pull myself deep down under the luxurious water and have a long big laugh.