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Monday, 31 December 2012

Countdown to Begin Again

A couple of nights after Christmas there was a storm. I had tried to go to bed at a more reasonable hour than most nights; it was 1:30 in the morning.  Around three A.M. I woke to a clap of thunder and a room illuminated by lightening, and I was up.  I read a chapter of a most lovely Trollope novel I recently started: The Small House at Allington; I worked on a couple of lines of a new poem; I ate a clementine; I turned to the internet.  Facebook is a snowy world at night, something on pause, or what a slow reverse looks like if it were moving forward. Held aloft like an icicle trying to form on the end of a warmish nose.  A few nights earlier, I had been awakened by cats, had signed on to the FB to find two other people up in the night--awakened by a total of five cats.  Three humans up in the night go to Facebook with their plight (Click here). The two other humans don't know each other; only I saw this particular pelmanism forming on the screen: there is a companionable loneliness in coincidence, and I believe in it.  It is sometimes inconsequential, like cats and humans in the night; it can be meaningful, like a grasping of hands or a virtual embrace.  The newsfeed ticks on, counting time.
     On that night a couple of nights after Christmas, when there was a storm, I turned to my computer to play me some music.  I was searching for a song, something so right for the middle of the night--Paul Simon, handsome and young.  I was searching for a recipe, something beautiful that tastes as complex as it looks.  I was searching for a story, something else that couldn't sleep, so I could share.  I was pleased to encounter this, one of my favorite Simon songs about sleeplessness but sung by a fan, Simon standing behind her, guitar in hand while she played his music.  This was the moment to take back to sleep: an image, an encounter, an idea like a dream in a hand, something that counts backward to how we learn to play music, how we learn to tell stories, how we learn to re-imagine the future. Pages that turn in any direction to keep you moving forward, sleep that is interrupted only to give you more dreams, storms that sound like something from more places on the map than just your bedroom.
Today, on New Year's Eve day, I will be at The Morgan Library, my sanctuary in this city.  Its glass and its stone, its blonde, modern wood and its dark panelled library, its cash registers and its vault.  It is a good place to be as the year begins again, to spend some time with the ages, spend some time in the place I last saw my grandfather alive, spend some time with the optimism of paper--living and dead and always useful.

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