They Shoot Raccoons, Don't They?
This past week was the hottest of my life- and I'm from Tucson. I suppose the main difference is that in Tucson we had some sort of cooling system, whereas in Seattle we have a faucet and a ceiling fan. Hence me spending my nights on the back deck alone in my underwear but for a bottle of something, some gaudy lighting and the whispered sounds of Lady Holiday. Also, Chet Baker. Jazz sounds good in the dark and the heat. It compliments the whiskey.
I sat there and felt inspired. I wasn't sure what I took with me from BlogHer other than a deeper knowledge of social dramas and a pocketful of drink tickets, but apparently it gave me my second wind, which at this point is technically my 57th. I've been doing this a long time, and sometimes not at all. Point? The creative juices were flowing. Again. Finally.
So I would sit and write and sweat and drink until it was time for my neighbor to get up and then I'd gather the tools of my trade and head off to bed. My neighbor has no desire to see me in my underwear. This has been made clear again and again. His loss.
Yet, there is an audience around me. My deck is a stage built within an amphitheater of cherry trees and blackberry bushes. I am on display. I am nature's peepshow. I am naked and vulnerable. And my stage is nightly rushed.
The sounds always give them away. Against the smokey sound of trumpets there is a step out of rhythm. Against the soft knock of ice on ice there comes a scratch against wooden planks. Against the sighs of my heated breath lie the sniffs of danger in the air.
The masks don't hide their identity. In fact, they give them away. They are bigger than I am comfortable with and they have no fear of me. Men drinking whiskey in the dark against a background of jazz are far less dangerous than you would think. We are committed to the written word and matters of the heart. Ours is not the shooing of beasts or conquests over them. However, ours will smack said beast across its little masked face with a MacBook Pro should necessity dictate. Poets are not pussies.
They enter one at a time, but anyone can tell that they are together. It is obvious in the way he looks at her. It is obvious in the way she looks through the night and into his heart. Masks cannot mask passion. Theirs is a dance beneath steamy jazz and the give and take of cherry trees. They do not fear me. They only fear smells that carry upon the air and the sounds that neither of us make. We are together on this. It could be a deer or a fox or a cougar or a bear. I have no patience for predators and I watch my guests carefully. If they run I stand ready. If they sit and ponder the moon I sip my drink and follow suit. If they walk around the cats of indifference for their nightly snack of biscuits flavored with liver and tuna then I turn my gaze back upon the words beneath me- the words that will never be done and the memories constantly growing.
There are prizes dangling before us all. There are trophies and carrots on string and the idea of a book finally finished or food left unattended by finicky cats. There are obstacles all around. There is danger in the cherry trees and creative juices no longer flowing. Perhaps your El Guapo happens to be the actual El Guapo. We all die like dogs.
A few weeks ago the boys found a dead raccoon on a shady sidewalk. They did not fear it or poke it with stick. They paid their respects and pondered the possibilities. They accepted death as part of the journey and kept moving forward, making my book all the longer and the night that much quieter. They smiled softly and they walked slowly.
And somewhere beneath a swaying cherry tree there is a mask wet from tears and the haunting echoes of a trumpet shouting memories across the universe. The day may be for seizing, but the night is for nothing, just blank pages and empty dance cards. Nothing is ours for the making.