Saturday, February 8, 2020

Meditation 21


A friend posts a photograph of her table at a cafe. It’s not a trendy place, more a greasy spoon. She sits in the shadows, looking out at a couple who’ve found a window; though we see nothing through it, there is a streak of light at photo’s end. The image belongs on a feed of “uninteresting photographs.” This is where she sat, she writes, when democracy died. When I go back to look again, I can’t find the photo. Like a lapsed memory, it twitches behind my frontal lobe, analogue to a culture’s self-lobotomy. “I’m sorry for your loss,” a Canadian student says. Usually, there’s somewhere to put the loss, in cupped hands, or in a box. But your fingers pull apart and sand pours through. The local woman in the short story turned to sand when she grew upset about her island’s history. She was like a human sandbox without the frame. The sand doesn’t measure time, it scatters it. Inability to remember sequence is a symptom of trauma; the inability to look another in the eye a symptom of narcissism, which works both ways in this equation. Make it simple, he tells his mother, before and after she unloads a wave of unnecessary detail. We cannot lose what we so completely say, or so we think. Yesterday’s meditation turned to the two knots on either side of my spine, held in place by a cage of taut muscles. To what do we hold, when our core is weak? I pull the cushion out from under me and put it between my back and the wooden wall. The wall offers some support, letting my knots’ pain loosen. The tree of my spine rests against the lumber of the wall, soon to be torn down to make open space. From the next cushion over, I hear my neighbor say she meditates by elimination: first goes the grocery list, then the student papers, then the pesky colleague. Her daughter’s moods can be witnessed in the behavior of her cats. She recognizes her new cottage by the pencil sharpener on an outside beam. She’s always been obsessed by pencil sharpeners. Wood curls and drops to the ground, beside the much loved cat, imported from another friend’s photo-stream.

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