Sunday, May 2, 2004

Sunrise, Birds, Old Writings and things Somethi...

Sunrise, Birds, Old Writings and things

Something I never expected to see, and can't explain: a mourning dove being hounded and dive-bombed, chased all over these blooming oaks just after dawn. Thinking, no, that can't be a dove, must be a kestrel or some such. What could a dove do to incite the ire of a sparrow, don't know what kind? Surprised by a common chipping sparrow working the edge of my front walk. The bur oaks and white oaks up here are heavy with pollen. When I left D.C., oaks were already done and leafed out. I wonder if I brought back any pollen in my hair, or my clothes. In my lungs? Could I sneeze and bring southeastern genetic material to these northern trees? Unlikely to be an unwitting vector for a wind pollinated species, but who knows.

I just noticed, the sun rise fills the river valley first.

Cleaning up papers at my desk here, or making a show anyway. There was something I wrote years ago in response to a very small glass of wine. Wished I had it when in D.C., as my mother informed me it was my father's favorite things I'd ever written, father's day cards and elementary school essays notwithstanding. I tried to recall something of it when speaking at his service, but just found a paper copy. He never mentioned to me that it meant anything to him, but there you are, or rather, here:

I will never forget the dream I had about Bongo. The world grey and static, a frozen space and my dead dog rising from the ground to protect me. The sky was the color of olive dust, but so painfully silent.

I will never forget my first taste of Moscato d'oro. Straw colored wine. In the wind I drank the sweet humid fungus of the turf. In the glass I stepped on the plum stones of the birds' leavings. In the glass I smelled the dust of my grandfather's body. In the glass my feet sank in the greasy cool mud under the magnolia trees. In the glass I drank the harsh voices of the scrub jays and the ethereal perfume of an April orange blossom. In the glass my limbs were thin and brown and my lungs had no limit. In the glass I was making love to every moment that ever felt good in my whole life. In the glass everyone knew I loved them and nobody was dead. In the glass I chewed raw almonds under the slow moving trees which made them. In the glass I burned piles of eucalyptus leaves and buried my feet in the fine hot ash. I stood a little beyond the kitchen window in the furrow with my grandfather and spit muscat seeds at the sun. They were the best, we agreed, the best possible grape. There is no flavor which compares, no sweetness so primitively sophisticated, so muskily primal. My grandfather's favorite, my father's favorite, and mine.

I worry that when I die my jury will consist of insects. I will face a panel of crippled ants and tomato hornworms and de-winged flies.

Completely inconvenient. Fat with sugar and seeds, the muscat is not a dainty grape. It necessitates spitting. It is so good to eat that politeness will not survive, nor will conversation. It is a food of those who will eat with silent companions or will eat alone, who will stop eating only when the perfume in their heads threatens to steal their very lives. Eat the muscat and you know, without question or embarrassment or pride that you are god and the grape is god and the moment is god. The grape is your mother. The grape is your shaman. The grape is your confessor and in its embrace sin withers from lack of ambition. After so many years of working the soil I think a man turns to wind.

There was only enough wine left in the bottle for one small glass. Would I ever find another bottle? Would I ever feel that good again? It's exciting to think that you just might.

So I guess I did remember some of that well enough for Larry. It's funny, to me anyway, that way back then I was thinking about the death of Larry's father. Thinking about the time when I lived on the farm after he died. I was having strange dreams. The wine was Moscato d'oro by Mondavi. A couple fingers left in the last bottle of a case forgotten in the bottom of a cooler at a restaurant where I worked. I think it was a 1990, or 91, though when I found it, 1996 maybe? I did find and buy that wine again, but no doubt it was never quite the same.

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