October 4th, 2003

gericault_raft of the medusa 1

Ill Still of the Night

The shrouded moon spent half the night glazing the trees, then left to peer at its own reflection in the Pacific. Instead of living in the present, I spent the other half of the night sunk in memory. The moon and I have something in common. I, however, cannot effect the tides. They are there, nevertheless, seeking to drown me while I am stranded, dug in up to my neck. I have the distinct sense that I've done all this, said all this, before. One time or another, I had a fever, and everything I saw was distorted. Reality is like that now. It is material for strange dreams. I wonder when they will begin?
caillebotte_man at his window


The air has turned mild, and the clouds have grown slightly puffier, though they still do not suggest rain. Those leaves which have not begun to turn have reached their deepest shade of green. Signs of transition are everywhere. Spider webs stretched in corners are dense, and littered with bits of leaf. The spiders themselves are fat and somnolent. Last night, I heard only two cicadas; one near my house who drowned out the other, which could only be distinguished when the closer one fell silent for a moment. This afternoon, the stillness is disturbed only by the noise of a neighbor's leaf-blower. It is oddly like the basso profundo of a giant insect.

The older of my felines has become more of a lap cat than ever. She will contentedly nap there for an hour or more, if I don't disturb her, and will lie there quietly even when she is wide awake, staring at whatever it is that cats stare at with such intensity.

When she was younger, she enjoyed making a game of entering the house. When I would go in, I would hold the door open for her and she would pause, and pretend not to be interested, and then, as I closed the door, she would sprint toward it. I would open the door a bit wider, and she would stop and look at me, then glance away, waiting for me to begin closing it again, then dash through at the last minute. Then she lost interest in the game, and seldom played it for years. Recently, she has revived it, but with a variation. I invite her in, she takes a few steps toward the door, then stops and sits. I close the door completely, but looking out the window I can see that she is still waiting, looking at the closed door. I open it again, and she gets up and takes a few more slow steps, then stops again. She will go through this pattern three or four times before she finally consents to stroll in. Every once in a while, she will still make a quick dash, but mostly she moves very slowly. Yet I can tell that she still enjoys the game. She always purrs a bit afterwards. Even very old cats are playful.

Through the window I see that the clouds are thickening, and the bright light is intermittently displaced by a gray shade. A slight breeze stirs the broad leaves of the mulberry tree, so that those at the ends of the branches gently move up and down. It is as though they were waving good-bye. It won't be long before my window view consists of bare twigs and sky and, from time to time, a hawk or two, wheeling and soaring above the aspiring pines.