Rendered Fat Content


Henry Fuseli: Titania and Bottom (Circa 1790)
"A single white feather floats down into the yard …"

I follow my cell phone's light down the stairs, careful that I don't disturb The Muse with glaring or trip over one of the cats, who appear like phantoms, hopeful for treats. My day has started. I reset the furnace and put on a coat, for this old place grows chilly overnight and it takes a while to warm back up. I distribute kitty treats, usually on top of the kitchen table. A bad habit, The Muse insists, but one I feel no urgency to break. I find a seat by the tall front window looking out into the street and the T-shaped intersection that violates every possible feng shui principle. There's never any traffic. The street light sheds more light into my eyes than down onto the road surface. The cats will shortly join me staring out into the not yet morning. Two or three hours stretch before me, time before The Muse gets up when I am the undisputed master of this small universe. I read through the papers in response.

An hour later, sun still not even hinting at ever returning, I set aside my papers.
Most news seems irrelevant now, the rest of the world distant and isolated from this fresh center of my universe. I understand the importance of the trade deals and the protests and the existential threat posed by those suffering from self-inflicted grievances, but the controversies seem conflated and unrelated to my day to day. I wonder how those columnists became wise enough to second guess without ever having actually held office. I mostly read looking for examples of great writing, indifferent to the content. I do not expect The Washington Post to provide enlightenment. Ditto for The New York Times. I'm much more interested in what these WeeHours might coax out of me this morning. I sit quietly for twenty minutes before choosing. I brew some coffee before trudging upstairs to sit at my desk, peer out into the fading night, and write something. The neighbor's rooster announces morning.

The following hour or two become an out of body experience. I'm focused upon saying something supporting my unshakable belief that every morning presents something worth mentioning and very likely universal. I do not ever know the significance at first, but scratching at it teases it out. I notice how the iris out front appear expressionist, crazy geometry seemingly unlikely to be authentic. The hemlock tree with its absurdly tiny cones looks like an inexpert line drawing, hardly symmetrical, yet perfect. Squirrels, fearless and frenzied, use it as a trapeze. I sense that nobody's supposed to be watching their performance. Between power lines and trees, those guys never need to touch ground. I envy their balance. The phlox along the front wall seems unbalanced, one side in flawless bloom and its opposite still struggling, but it's catching up, or so I hope. I don't want to contemplate starting anything over.

By then, I'm into whatever's emerging that morning. Sometimes, it seems quite brilliant. Other times, a struggle. I'm learning not to judge too harshly, or at all harshly. Often, something in which I sensed no real merit becomes most popular and I'm not competing in any contest. I do not aspire to become Mr. Congeniality. In an hour or three I will have shaved and showered and started moving out among the general population. My day will already be done as my second day begins with almost no-one ever suspecting my occupation. When asked, I might mumble something about being a writer without elaborating, while praying that they'll be no follow-up questions. My grandson Roman asked me if I sold my poetry for money, a greedy glint in his eye. He seemed disappointed when I told him, "No." He asked how come and I explained that not everything holds money value, that some things are naturally beyond price and must be freely given or become worthless. He found my answer deeply dissatisfying.

I have not successfully seized this morning. I did not inhabit those WeeHours to gain dominion. I need the space, I tell myself, when nobody's supposed to be watching except the cats, and my secret seems safe with them. I wonder if it's safe with me. I sneak around because I'm secretly embarrassed at my occupation yet somehow obsessed with it. I post my writings, secretly hoping nobody will read, much less comment on them,
and I frequently check back to see who's peeked in throughout the day. I remain a very private person in an occupation dependent upon a public presence. I cope by hiding out in WeeHours hoping nobody will notice. The man in the blue hood barely controlling three large leashed dogs just turned the corner. The painters down the street have started arriving. A single white feather floats down into the yard, perhaps discarded by that dove that passes by each morning just as I'm finishing.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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