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Marco Wilkinson


This morning I managed to get out of bed and make it to my meditation cushion. Feeling my belly a bellows.

I always sit afterwards and read with a cup of green tea in the same ceramic tea bowl made by my friend Julie. It is surprisingly lightweight and light to the eye, vitreous cream with a pale green halo around its foot. It always reminds me of a daikon top which always reminds me of the Daikon Spirit in the elevator at the bathhouse in Spirited Away which always relaxes me.

I go for a walk in my neighborhood before I teach later in the morning and in my earbuds I am listening to Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood. Toby is building her own personal ararat, a stockpile of non-perishable food and supplies, as a little boat to ride out the waterless flood, a deadly pandemic. Adam One is preaching, tucked into my ears while I walk along curving streets past tidy yards of succulents and explosions of roses. God is a predator, he is telling me. Not just lamb and dove, but lion, tiger, wolf, and shark.

My personal narrative class is of course on Zoom. Only three students show up and one of them doesn’t make a single comment even when I call on them. We are finishing up reading Li-Young Lee’s The Winged Seed and find ourselves having a conversation about the way we disappear in our memories. What is my life? What a surprise to realize it isn’t me. My life is others, the others around me. The conversation turns and we find ourselves discussing how sometimes when the truth is too traumatic, we tell the story we can manage, the manageable story.

Then office hours, also on Zoom, and no one shows up.

Then the interview for an adjunct gig (1 course), also on Zoom. It’s only one course in the Fall, but I should feel lucky. I feel lucky.

Because the shovel cracked heedlessly through the brittle pvc irrigation pipe lying hidden underground, because I too feel like I must stock up my little ararat as a hedge against the predator God, I get in the car and head to Lowe’s to buy the irrigation repair piece I’ve already located on their website which kindly gives me the exact location in the store (“Aisle 46, Bay 1”). The highway is noticeably busier than the last time I went out (when was that?) and the parking lot is nearly full. I feel already a rising sadness for how quickly we’ve lost what we had when we lost what we had.

My partner is fasting for Ramadan, so I eat some avocado toast out on the front porch., away from him. The bread is lame grocery store bread, limp pillows (but at least whole wheat). You get what you can these days. I should feel lucky. I feel lucky. I started the starter but it started to sputter. A week and half later it seems like there are fewer air bubbles than before. In the before, I used to not eat much bread. Why this sudden urge for it? I used to think that a criterion for a virtuous life would be the ability to make one’s own shoes. At 43, I cannot make my own shoes or my own bread.

There are wild oats growing everywhere in the alleys of my neighborhood, going green to gold with drooping seedheads like little shining bees’ wings v-ed open. I collected a big bag-full the other day and dried them between some screens. The seeds have mostly fallen out of their bee-wing husks, but they are still wrapped in tighter ones, furred. Within the wings, the furred bee-body. Within the bee-body, the sweet food. But how to get in? Or get it out? There is a great useless pile of food sitting on my back patio.

In half an hour I’ll attend my tai-chi class, on Zoom of course. This will be the third week I’ve tried. In the previous two weeks when I logged on, I got a message that Master Henry was in another meeting. The other meeting he was in was the one I wanted to be in. Will we meet this time?

There is a crow sitting on top of the telephone pole right outside our house. That crow is the only one who knows what the top of that pole looks like. I’ve become much more aware of the crows and the croaking small birds that buzz and dive-bomb them relentlessly. I’d like to befriend the crows (I’m not sure about those little croakers). What twig or branch would a crow bring to me to let me know the flood is receding? What twig or branch could I bring to it to let it know the flood is receding?

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020