I strain for a lunar arrogance.
- Jim Harrison
Many an evening, just before dark, I stand on our back-stoop and pray. By pray I mean looking, listening, smelling, feeling. It is a practice of coming to my senses, a return to that often lost in the strum and drang of the day. It is, I believe, communion.
Just last evening the May chill took my breath away more than once. I rolled down my sleeves and snapped my cuffs, for I am not a portly man. I closed my eyes as the coal train clattered by, that iron-linked-sausage bringing warmth to late spring nights. I recently read a man's thoughts about trains being confining and single-destinationed. He felt compelled to make trains a spiritual metaphor and found them wanting. Praying on my stoop, just before dark, saves me from such nincompoopery.
The wind whipped 'round and my nose burned with the fresh dung dropped by the dog who lives with us. The house catty-corner to us is empty with a hint of the burlesque. All the shades are hiked up like skirts revealing two stories of empty, all a tease. But houses aren't metaphors. They need people in them, and maybe dogs too.
The clouds to the north resembled my mother's mashed potatoes, lumpy and lush. The sun's swan-song was ladling salmon-blood gravy over them, a combination that made me feel like a boy and miss home. How quickly my childhood stirs. From my stooped-vantage point the single crow appeared to be birthed right out of the train car, an ashen phoenix rising black as coal. All this sensed against a denim sky.
Then my daughter's voice - Dad, aren't you cold?
I said yes, a variation of amen, then stepped back over the threshold into a kitchen warmed by love and coal.