The song of my keys jangling in pocket
Lightness in my steps down the three floors from my flat
To the avenue each afternoon.
A sojourn to Yarmu’s Coffee House
To meet Otta and Raul and talk about the events of the day
Or to chat with Teresa from the building next door
We exchange stories as she walks her bull terrier, Mookie
In the tree-lined vest pocket park on the next block
Grabbing the newspaper from Sahid at the corner stall
He grins and nods, his black gloves cut at the fingers
To make it easy to grab my change.
Writing is a lonely business
To build a mass of words on a screen
The discipline of solitude
The effort of carving from the mind
Drafts of work that might never see life.
The rhythm of these simple travels out, then home
This was my daily sustenance
Refueled, inspired, connected
The words came easily, then.
Lately it has been different.
The shifts were swift and seismic
I found myself unsteadied
Otta & Raul couldn’t meet
They were taking Otta’s father to the clinic (something wasn’t right)
Sahid wore blue latex gloves
and kept the window on his cart closed
I smiled and waved (but of course he couldn’t see my mouth for the mask)
Teresa said we shouldn’t walk together anymore
“For our own safety,” she said.
Venturing out, once joyful, became a solemn reminder of absence
The weight of this feeling grew heavier
Like dragging cold, wet stones in my soles.
So, I stopped journeying.
Landings collecting dust.
For seven months (has it been so long?)
I can’t find my way into a story
The words get trapped in my head before they reach the page
Fingers hover above the keyboard but I can’t make them land
I stare at a blank screen (has it been weeks?)
My sleep is fitful – a tangle of strange, unfinished dreams.
A fog seems to blanket the days (is it Thursday?)
But today I awaken with a start --
A sudden, bright, crystalline moment of clarity.
My words rise, surface, flow and shimmer
I write an epic love letter
To Yarmu’s Coffee House
To Otta and to Raul and to Teresa and to Sahid
An ode to the tree-lined park and sounds
Of people I don’t know
and the energy of street life on my block
All of them my muses and my salvation.
I am sobbing, having (finally) birthed this piece
From deep longing
I am vulnerable
Then lightness-- a release
And for the first time
In a great while
I unplug the computer
My screen darkening, my four walls fading
For the first time
In a great while
I am aware of the sunlight from my window
I open the shuttered sash
Feeling the rush of air
Itself, like a rebirth
Spring-like and fresh
The street is beckoning
Time for a reunion, long overdue.
My keys sing in my pocket as I descend the steps
I know the words will come.