In my words, April 1 – 7

On April Fool’s Day, a friend, Dustin Kelly, who has become a berry farmer and producer of jellies, announced on Facebook: “Hey everybody, great news! It was kind of a back up plan, but I got an acceptance letter for a summer internship with Monsanto this morning! Yeah! I’m going to get to work with their new line of household-use pesticides. Wish me luck!” “Go get em!” I responded. I knew my friend would never work for Monsanto, and thought, “He’s going to spy and let a wrench fall in the works.” Am I an honest soul who believes everything anyone tells him or a gullible fool? I had to smile when I remembered what day it was.

Dustin, his wife Chenxi and a jar of their Autumn Berry Inspired:

Thinking of Dustin’s autumn berries is making me hungry. I’m on the second day of a three day fast, fruit juice and that’s been it. Last night, I dreamed I was eating eggs, fried potatoes and toast. My mother, though dead, had made it for me. Needless to say, I knew I was fasting and felt very guilty. Today, Saturday, is chilly, sunny and invigorating. Akram and I left for a walk, and though I hadn’t eaten, I was feeling fine until right before Avenue B where the scaffolding is, we saw three cars had been set on fire during the night, burnt and exploded. Someone said that anarchists, who were partying under the scaffolding, set the cars on fire after residents complained about the noise. “It looks like the Mid-East,” Akram said.

One of the cars belonged to Father Pat, an Irish priest who had run a home for boys on the block. The fire might have been directed at him, I thought. In 1993 he got caught in a bank robbery meant to funnel seven million dollars to the IRA for guns, and did jail time. But who would have a gripe against the retired father now? If anarchists were involved, perhaps they’d burned the cars in protest because Charas, the building the cars were parked in front of, had been a community center once. In the late 90s, Mayor Giuliana revoked the lease and sold the building to a developer. There had been a lot of demonstrations, some that I’d attended, years ago before 9/11. The owner has slowly, very slowly, been fixing the place up; thus the scaffolding and the anarchists partying under it.

Akram and I continued our walk. In Tompkins Square, we stopped to watch the dogs in the dog run. Our fantasy is a husky now though I’d be happy with a collie. Normally, we might have stopped to eat—I was dreaming of a smoothie—but we just kept on going, shopped for sketch paper and yellow colored pencils, then stopped in La Plaza on the way home to take pictures of the daffodils. When you see them, you know for sure it’s spring.

Sonnet 30 (written April 2004)

In the early dewdrop chilly morning
I’m alone gardening. What a delight!
It’s been hot and noisy. Now’s a quiet
tranquil dawn. New York City’s still sleeping
tired out. It was loud. Don’t wake the city.
I want to hear waking in La Plaza
beds of dark roses and gladiolas
sparrows chirping in the willows. Beauty’s
a lot of work and Manhattan’s landscape’s
a flower itself of stone, desire and sweat.
Yes I am determined and alive yet
with time to spare but not one hour to waste.
Reader, you might not know this ages hence
but my hands are dirty as I write this.

A favorite poem, Yellow Spring, by Juan Ramón Jiménez (translated April 2003).

Another favorite, this time by Pablo Neruda, La Primavera (translated April 2001)

El pájaro ha venido

a dar la luz:

de cada trino suyo

nace el agua.

Y entre agua y luz que el aire desarrollan

ya está la primavera inaugurada,

ya sabe la semilla que ha crecido,

la raíz se retrata en la corola,

se abren por fin los párpados del polen.

Todo lo hizo un pájaro sencillo

desde una rama verde.

The Spring

The bird has come
to give us light:
from each of its trills
water is born.

Between water and light, air unfolds.
Now the spring’s inaugurated.
The seed knows that it has grown
the root pictures the flower
and the pollen’s eyelids finally open.

All this done by a simple bird
on a green branch.

Drawing: Bird in the Tree by Akram
Well, it’s Sunday evening. I made it! Last night, I dreamed I was eating strawberry ice cream, just a few spoonfuls but feeling oh so guilty. Guilty seems to be a theme. I had tomato juice today and while squeezing in a lemon I chewed on a little bit of rind. Tomorrow morning I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal with banana and raisins, a breakfast fondly anticipated. Empty stomach, empty mind. I needed to think about things. What’s important? What isn’t? I’ve been overeating. “Simplicity,” my friend Dustin says, “is a blessing.”

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