Sunday, September 25, 2005

the first day of fall

There are days when the accumulated weight of magic soaked into the world almost drowns you. Days when God seems like the director of some movie with you in the starring role, Gabriel doing the cinematography. Every action is careful and gorgeous, your heart flutters for hours. Just as cherry blossoms and spring are closely associated with the opening and fleetingness of life and love the end of summer has become synonymous with lost love. How many times have a heard a melody where the singer sits at the end of summer remember their first love that ended with the season. It’s a hokey thought, but it’s one that always seems to pierce me, and I’ve never even had a June to August fling.

My first few breaths this morning had the dry taste of autumn. The sweet summer stick was gone from the air and my dreams suddenly focused in the crisped air. I woke twitching to strains of folk guitar, the last images of the dream curling away like smoke. Michael has been dead these eight years, drowned in a Vermont river, but he played for me last night. I wondered what part of me had brought him into my dreams, his glossy gray eyes and the brown hair brushing his shoulders.

It was a Sunday morning and I had a list of errands, but once I started down these town lanes my bike refused to stop, racing minivanned families down tree lined streets, squeezing and cheating between traffic and through red lights, slapped the political banners fluttered along the way.

A typhoon swept into Asia and just missed Japan this morning and the far sprinkling reaches of it sparkled the Japanese sky with a strange patchwork of clouds. Noon dusted us with the ashen gray light of dusk. The sky was riddled in a weird checkerboard of black squares rimmed in sunlight. The wind scurried about like a hyperred puppy chasing his own tail, sometimes almost toppling me with his enthusiasm. He brought me strange little presents of smells and sounds, quickly pattering off to find something new, packages of chicken roasted on skewers and the shrieks of motorcycles on the highway. As I crossed the river the wind dropped a smattering of long farty bass tones at my ankles, soon disappearing among the bored purrs of car engines. Looking around I found a small figure perched in a field of weeds, blowing on a wooden horn the size of a small tree. I veered off the bridge and he waved to me from the field. “Hando-meido!” he yelled against the wind. “It’s hand made!” “Yatte mitai? Yatte mitai desu ka?” How could I say no?

I waded into the waist high grasses to take up his offer. The field was churning with mud, the tires of my bicycle sinking into this earth suddenly gone soft and dizzying as making love. The man cradled the long wooden horn in his hands, holding out the mouthpiece to me. “It’s alright if I try then?” “Please, give it a try.” I pursed my lips and blew it like a trumpet, air columning down the shaft and exploding out the opposite end in a long blarp of rippling air. The digital display on the chromatic tuner perched below the mouthpiece said I had belted out a solid C sharp. I twisted my face and coaxed out an A sharp and a G sharp as well. I shook hands with the maker and we traded our names. Mine is Jamie. His is Kawamura. He made it by hand, from Nagano timber. He comes down to the river to practice in a spot where no one can hear him. My coming had exhilarated him but shattered his solitude: was he bothering people in the immediate area? Why no, I said, I had just barely caught the sounds of his practicing. The storms to the south had pulled me down there to hear him. But I didn’t tell him that.

The horizon was scarred with slashes of slate gray and faded orange as I waved goodbye. By the time I’d ridden back into town it was covered in black, the bobbing lamps of bicycles floating in the darkness like firefly swarms. As I sat in my bathroom the light from the outside hall clicked and flicked in patterns that matched this September’s checkered skies. Oh... my heart felt miles wide today. The country is plunging whole into the churning waters of winter, and today my insides were swirled up like a dash of cold cream into coffee, and my heart ached for someone. Oh oh how it ached for the bundled mystery of a human being to twitter my eyes and shake my limbs. Oh today I wanted someone. Oh. Oh.

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