The persistent, low-grade headache over my left eye and its sudden stab when I sneeze is probably, like the sneeze itself, caused by the pine pollen that is now dusting every outdoor surface, but what do I know? I know that what I think I know is what I see, and what I see is that dusting of pollen. But then I also see the fallen, wilted petals of the first rose scattered under the bush where the later roses now bloom and bud. I see the black feral cat taking a drink from the bowl under the lilac bush. I see a small, black bug of some sort climbing up the outside of my window screen. I see the ends of pine needles sticking up from the rain gutter along the back of the house, all glowing in the flood of afternoon sunlight. I see the sky, pale blue dusted with swaths of cloud not quite dense enough to be called white. |
But what do I know of what I see? I forget more things all the time. I forget the divisions of time themselves— the parts that stretch back and out, endlessly— and all the names of days run together like those swaths of vague, imprecise cloud. But then I remember that today is called Sunday, and I remember that it is waning, and that tonight the moon will still be growing, but I don't know that I'll see it if I go out to see it. Maybe the persistent, low-grade headache over my left eye is the precursor of a stroke, or of blindness, and by the time the sky gets dark enough for the moon to shine I'll be dead or blind or stuck in the house unable to move. What I know is that one never knows.
The approach of evening feels oddly tentative. Those divisions of time keep piling up, so evening is probably inevitable, but my presence in it is not, so evening's approach seems tentative. I'm going to make sure the cats all have plenty of food and water, just in case. If that persistent headache is just pollen messing with my sinus, all wellish and goodish (because there's nothing actually well and good about being distracted by a headache, but at least it's not terminal and the cats will get more meals before I become incapacitated or shuffle off this mortal, shuffle off this mortal, shuffle off this mortal coil. Which reminds me, I wonder when they are going to show 42nd Street on television again?)
Anyway. I think English people will murder one another on one of the local PBS channels tonight, even if Ruby Keeler won't become an overnight Broadway star on TCM again just yet. I'll enjoy seeing those murders, assuming I'm not yet a corpse myself, and this headache doesn't get any more distracting. Life is really odd, isn't it?
by Muriel Rukeyser
Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was
the Sphinx. Oedipus said, "I want to ask one question.
Why didn't I recognize my mother?" "You gave the
wrong answer," said the Sphinx. "But that was what
made everything possible," said Oedipus. "No," she said.
"When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning,
two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered,
Man. You didn't say anything about woman."
"When you say Man," said Oedipus, "you include women
too. Everyone knows that." She said, "That's what