“All I know is what the words know, and dead things, and that makes a handsome little sum, with a beginning and a middle and an end, as in the well-built phrase and the long sonata of the dead.”
- Samuel Beckett
Notwithstanding the foregoing however, I am trying. I’m not loling and whatnot all the livelong day. I have my dark nights of the soul, and even some dim winter afternoons when time seems to stand still and my heartbeat sounds like part of a scary movie soundtrack heartbeat. Frankly, when you live in a place where ten inches of rain in one year is becoming the norm, and you live there most of your life, you tend to go mildly insane when it rains nonstop for one whole week. Which, by the way, if you want to comment about how we don’t have friggin’ seasons here in So Cal, you’ll be dead to me.
Today was sunny and me and Tech Support Guy took our respective cats out into the backyard on their respective harness leashes. Once they’d rolled in the rain dust spots on the sunny concrete patio for a sufficiently long enough time to get thoroughly dirty, we went a’walkin in different directions.
My yard looks so neglected. Like the names of dead things: everywhere I look are signs of abandonment and dead things. Here’s the thing. When we go out, my cat walks me, and I let her. We took an unusual route for me, across a rather precarious dry waterfall. I saw a pretty pattern of shadow on the rocks facing east. Like the deeply toothed wing of a blackbird in flight. It was. A robin-sized bird of mostly gray feathers lay belly up against the rock, his left wing nestled next to the rock and slightly splayed like he was gliding on a warm current. Although I saw no evidence of cause of death, I admit I looked away fairly quickly. I prefer to believe he looked for a sheltered spot to die where he wouldn’t be desecrated by evil skunks or gophers.
There was the end of that life’s story, but it was a moment of beauty. Perhaps I heard the beginning of the long sonata of his death. Sometimes, I think I can hear snatches of the song while I sit with my back to the winter morning sun, smelling all the rain drenched new growth. I’m pretty sure this morning that I heard the beginning of the long sonata of this new year’s life. I was watching Lily roll around so gloriously in the warm dust, rolling onto her back, curving her spine up and sticking her chest out, spreading her arms and legs apart, rubbing her tiny backside in the dirt. She’s about the middle of her life (9 years this summer). She’s pretty limber for a middle aged female.
So there we all were: beginnings, middle and ends. The sum of the morning is more than a tidy sum of words. It’s part of the song we all sing together all our lives. This morning in my back yard, we got to a particularly nice part of the song.