Monday Morning Musings:
For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen
Okay. I like that shade of red right there
The spot where the apple is peeling
It’s deep as an ocean but lighter than air
It’s simple, familiar, and full of feeling
The color of Saturdays here at the Met
The color of shouting from rooftops
The color of feeling that life is okay
The color of an ordinary day
Adam Gwon, “Beautiful” from the musical Ordinary Days
“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
–T.S. Eliot, “Little Giddings”
We planned for seventeen
but expected sixteen
I bake challahs,
a freezer full,
enough to give some away.
I buy brisket,
take the plastic-wrapped tray from the butcher’s hands,
I look at the package–
no, she has never seen my family eat brisket,
I pick up another package.
I buy myself flowers to decorate the table–
we never have flowers inside
because of the cats,
just this once I think.
A series of texts and calls
and there are now fourteen coming to dinner
As guests start to arrive
(The soup is bubbling on the stove.)
one cat is vomiting.
I’m worried he’s eaten flowers that are toxic,
I confer with daughter on the phone.
It doesn’t look like any of the flowers were nibbled.
I decide he’s probably okay.
(I hope he’s okay.)
The sun did not come out,
but there is a beauty to the fall breeze,
an ordinary day, beautiful.
The birds and squirrels chatter to one another,
“Fall is coming.”
In this year of bullets and bombs,
of hate-filled speech and lurid lies,
I welcome thoughts of a sweet new year,
old traditions that bring comfort,
even without belief
I don’t need god to believe
in man and woman,
We pour the wine,
my niece makes a toast
she reminds us of the importance of family
of gathering together
of being there when others are in need.
We dip our apples in honey,
We’re eating challah and drinking wine
talking with loved ones
and loving the talk.
(We love to talk.)
Dinner is full of symbols for the new year–
cycles, sweetness, prosperity–
in the round shape of the challah
full circles of life,
the ordinary made beautiful on reflection,
the golden pumpkin-yellow split pea soup
the burst of red pomegranate in the salad
tart and sweet—like life.
My mom starts to mention traveling to Boston
I catch my niece’s eye–
pour more wine—
We talk about TV shows,
we talk about school,
there’s a discussion on teachers and parenting,
middle school kids,
Axe body spray and middle school boys
“It smells like BO,” says my niece
“I’d rather smell a room full of Axe than the smell of boys after gym class,”
says my daughter, who teaches 8th grade.
“I keep air freshener to spray in the room at the end of the day.”
(Perhaps sometimes the ordinary does not smell beautiful. But those kids–bursting with life!)
We’ve eaten our fill–
plenty of food–
because what if there isn’t enough!
Food for meat eaters and vegetarians
and enough for all to take some home
And then dessert. We want a very sweet year.
And brownies with sea salt, too.
We missed those who could not join us.
I send the flowers home with my mom.
The beginning and end come full circle.
We clean the house.
My cat is fine.
See the beauty.
It is all around,
in the red of an apple
in the golden flow of honey,
in the eye of your child
in the touch of love,
and in the purr of a cat, too.
A sweet year!
Peace to all