Dylan singing the background. She’s got everything she needs. She’s an artist, and she don’t look back. The sun is clearing the horizon, the sky already a light blue with a little purple on the fringe. We will walk later this morning if it doesn’t get too hot. I am taking Charley’s car to our mechanic in a few minutes. They ran over a truck tire in the highway on the way to the eclipse, had to replace two of their own tires and temporarily tie up a part knocked loose in the undercarriage. It rattles, so I’m taking it in to see if the temporary fix can be made permanent—though nothing is permanent when it comes to cars.
Dylan switches to “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”—and my best friend, my doctor, won’t even say what it is I’ve got—Sweet Melinda, the peasants call her the goddess of gloom…
There was a time when we listened to Dylan in Jim’s old dorm room as if he had something to say, as if we had stumbled onto some reality kept hidden from us all those years growing up with Mickey Mouse and toothpaste commercials. We listened to his voice and felt freed from the cave and its shadows. We saw the sun for the first time. But the world lives in the cave—you know the story.
Something Laura G. told me the Sunday morning we walked the Shoal Creek trail from Seton hospital—it doesn’t matter what we know or believe, we live here in the world. I nodded, having come to that conclusion some years ago. But here is flat, sometimes worse than flat.
Laura was a childhood friend of Melinda’s. She once helped me paint a duplex between tenants, went to MIT, counted cards, genius—I’ve not known many. I number the people named Laura in my life, but run out of fingers. Once, in the early 1990s, we had lunch at a café near Harvard yard in Boston, then toured the Ware collection of glass flowers. A few years ago, Laura and her two daughters took me to the Chihuly glass garden in Seattle. I’m just now making the glass to glass connection, looking for metaphor.
Dropped off the car.
Harvey has moved northeast, and the day is hotter. On the fringes of the hurricane we had a couple of days of steady but light rain and cool. In Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and the towns surrounding them people are being taken by boat from flooded houses to higher ground. A man calls to say he has lost track of his 88 year old father who was rescued by boat but taken somewhere, and he doesn’t know where. Thousands misplaced. People drown. In the mix you begin to see the difference between people who measure moments and people they love and those who cling to something else. You can just feel the love, two young women were telling a reporter. I’ve lost everything I’ve worked for, another was saying. Sooner or later, the poet says—so easy for you to say.
He looks up from the rim of his glasses. I know what it’s like to lose everything, his eyes tell her. And yet nothing important is ever lost when you figure it out.
I understand why old men buy motorcycles, he says, supposedly changing the subject.