James bought a bottle of Spanish red for my birthday, Marqués de Riscal. We drank it. Yesterday, I walked 4 ½ miles, mowed the lawn, cooked chicken teriyaki and rice—some of that has to count. Listening to Joni sing “California.” I like California, the poet admits. But I feel more grounded here in Central Texas, something about living in a place so long that the language is infused in your blood—like being married to the same woman for 39 years, after 28 it starts to smooth out. Something in the way you speak to each other.
It is true, that on the drive from Redlands, I uttered the sentence from a current commercial more than once—I have a brand new putter my wife doesn’t even know about. What, my wife says. It is true that I could probably move to the Pacific coast and make a seamless adjustment. I feel the same way about New York City, or London, or Paris, or Seattle—though the grey might drive me to dink more coffee. I would ride the ferry to Bainbridge Island every day or at least once a week, write poems about the sound and the tides and gooey duck hunting.
I sip my coffee. I have a poetry reading today at 6:30 in Belton with Mark and Rachel. I worry about no one showing up, but that’s happened before. If it does, I will read to the wall. I will read to God, to myself. It will be fine—here in America.
There is a dream somewhere in the fabric of the stories we tell. A dream that Mark might say is embedded in the blues more that anywhere else. Something about seeing your way through until you reach tomorrow. In Lordsburg we ate at MacDonald’s. A busload of kids were there, perhaps an athletic team of some kind. The kids were mostly black and brown, looking hip. I loved being among them, felt something has been missing in my own life, a life that has become comfortably numb in its whiteness. The dream includes them, is perhaps more them than me. I am an old white guy, but I can dance, I wanted to say.
I am an old white guy, but I can still dance, the poet whispers in your ear. I had almost forgotten, he says. But I am a wizard, dancing on the string between here and nowhere, between light and dark, between the words spoken when we are alone with each other.
Kiss me quick, he whispers.