He is the stone in his own mouth which he can neither swallow nor spit out. He stares and grinds his teeth. He is waiting. He has been brought here.
The Uniforms brought him here. This is a place of order, straight lines, clean edges, symmetry, all the balance that civil planning and architecture can bring to a building where men will be brought, against their will, for resolution.
If resolution is not linear then we are not safe; the Uniforms believe that body and soul. It is the heart of their codex. The printed forms they hand us are all neat lines designed to elicit information about the man-in-tow, and the situation-leading-up-to, telling us why he was brought here, what might need resolving in his life. But they are sloppily rendered. Many of the Uniforms do not write well, or lucidly; they are better with their hands on larger things than pens. Men. They are quick and active with their hands on men. They do well at that. They are trained.
Another man waits at a chest-high counter. This is his hosptial; he is the nurse who watches the man who sways and simmers. He is the cork in the psychic bottle of terrors, the collective human mind towed in through the sliding glass doors. Rule-breakers all.
This linear house, this counter, is his place, the place he lives and works; pain's echo chamber. How can he spend 8 hours a day in this place and not feel that he lives here? Even when he has a home, with a family in it, dogs, too, maybe - another place where he lives? How can he not feel that?
"I think I am going to explode." The arriving man says, so tightly invested in himself that he does not see the nurse watching him.
Explosion is resolution, yes. Behind the counter the nurse hears this as echo and nods. He mouths the same words nightly, silently, the match not struck, the fuse naive of fire, all men waiting for resolution. This building breathes; it tells him that all men, if properly recognized, are bombs.
"If we both exploded, then who would pick up the pieces?" the nurse asks the man. "I am too tired to explode tonight. Exploding men frighten me." Fear and sorrow are equally palpable. The nurse sits heavily behind his counter to wait.
"Trees would be nice," the man says and he, too, sits.
Sometimes at night it is quiet and I feel at loose ends and I think about working, what working was like. All these years and I am still not sure. Holding the keys is one thing; believing you should hold the keys is quite another.
I have been thinking about waiting. Not the impatient waiting when something, someone, is expected: a new lover, a telegram - who under 60 would even think such a thing?, the rain, the next admission. No, the sort of waiting that is so quiet you aren't even sure at first that you are waiting. The waitingness only becomes obvious when there is no other explanation for the quiet.
A waiting exists that is quieter than breath, when the mind drifts into emptiness. Not the waiting where the mind sifts rubble for clues, glimpses of crimes. Not boredom. Not ennui. Not depression. A stillness. When I was younger I sometimes feared that I was waiting for god. Until I came to believe that god was an electrical artifact in the brain, like a small seizure, I worried that he would come upon me and call. It happens to many, a flaw in the dna; doors open which lead only into rooms filled with fantastic conclusions of wrenching faith. There is so little defense against this madness, unless we have been prewarned by the internal clicks, gurgles and whistles of instability. Unless we realize that we are already half mad at best.
There is still two-plus feet of snow on the ground, but it is old, tired, stained, used-up snow. Ready to die under lengthening days. January was bitter. The third coldest ever recorded. Minus 25f at its worst. The Polar Pig was snorting its way toward Florida, chasing snowbirds, jacking orange juice futures. It will go back north very soon.
I imagine I can feel the earth under the snow. It is frozen, I know that, but it feels somehow dark and ripe - and waiting. There are books on order that explain when to start what in the greenhouse. Eliot Coleman writes them. He is from here and will not lead us astray. When June comes and the soil is warmed we will have wonderful plants to put out into the garden, and some to keep inside. The soil in the greenhouse has been kept warm all winter; it is Cancun for worms.
The beets and carrots are the lone plant survivors in the cedar boxes. Air temp of fifteen below, even with warm soil, was a trial. Some of them look like they might resuscitate. I can't tell. October is not a good month to plant anything in a greenhouse where the air is unheated. I will call that experiment a success. It seems in gardening that knowing what not to do is possibly more important than actually knowing what to do. A Tao thing maybe.
We have 20 red raspberry bushes, 4 varieties, and 50 purple asparagus coming the first week in May. The garden fencing needs to be improved; chickens must be kept out. They have done well this winter. The coldest temps have not been a bother for them, and I solved the problem of how to keep their water thawed - I don't, they just eat snow. No water has been put out for them for months now. They are a wonder of sturdy resourcefulness. As the light gets longer egg production is going up. Taste-testing is ongoing: the cluckers like yellow snow and seem to consider the boxer-beasts as dribbling founts of something akin to gatorade. One can only imagine it is a very healthy habit the way they line up at the bar.
Ah, big storm due in on Wednesday. Temps near 40f and we thought we saw the door into summer. No, I realize we will get hammered at least once in March, too.
Tomorrow is clear. Since Pat went to the opera in S.F. with highschool buddy, Bill, I have been trying to woo her into the idea that the good life really does exist in Maine. In 24 hours we will be sitting in the absolute last row of the top balcony listening to Renee Fleming warble. We made a deal; I take Pat to wonderful venues, and this one is world class, and she doesn't mind when I bitch about the price. I have to bitch; it is part of my midwestern mandate. And in June will be going to see Pink Martini, a favorite of mine as recommended by the ever-trustworthy Zoe of Manhattan. Locally, at rock bottom prices, we have been twice to see chamber music at the FrancoAmerican Heritage Center. I am such a stay-at-home. Pat has got me on the stick and I am searching for culture.
She has me on the stick for winter relief, too. We are seriously considering going somewhere warm for a few months next winter. I thought of Crete, but it presents problems with the dogs. We will start looking around for someone to live in the house next winter and take care of chickens - and Miss Rocky, but the dogs it would be too hard to leave behind. So, it looks like the four of us in Snooky, the Chinook, heading southish. We just have to be sure we have someone trustworthy to watch the homestead. Perhaps the Mormon family next door could recommend some nice visiting Norweigan missionaries... Honest nonsmoking sorts who don't pack iron or toss their empties through the windows. A lot of time to get it all together, but that time will drain away too soon.
I will post this as it seems to be sort of complete. don and pat and all the others living on our tab.