Migration

Quarter till six. I’m sitting outside with my coffee and a brand new pocket notebook, in which I am writing the following words: A jet crosses the chest of Orion, dragging its roar half a sky behind it. Fog forms around me as I write, guessing at the lines, unsure of whether I have started this notebook with black or blue ink. Trucks are loud in the valley — I try to determine from the quality of the sound whether or not they are driving through thick fog.

Last night, I dreamed about finding my missing set of keys — they had been right where I usually keep them, and had simply been hiding from me each time I looked there before. Now, they were ready to be found. But other things remain lost. It seems that I am part of a group of pilgrims about to set off for New Orleans on foot, but I want to bow out and go by car instead because my glasses are in such bad shape. One of the lenses keeps popping out, and I’m afraid that if the frame breaks I won’t be able to get it repaired on the road. Even in the dream, I realize the foolishness of this anxiety. But I am quite nearsighted, and always feel terribly vulnerable without glasses.

We’re following one of New Orleans’ cemetery angels come to life, who is searching for her missing thumb and thinks that it might have been ‘borrowed’ by a hitchhiker desperate to get out of the city. Our plan: to comb the shoulders of every major road and highway between here and there. When we find the thumb, the angel will turn back to stone and will return to her station, directing traffic at the center of a vast necropolis. For now, she seems human enough — in fact, she has a bit of a pout. I want to find out if her wings smell of mildew, but she keeps her distance.

As the light strengthens, my handwritten words get smaller and straighter, falling into line. The stars fade. I hear the “wick wick wick” of migrating wood thrushes dropping down into the trees to rest and forage. They have thousands of miles yet to go. It makes me sad to think I won’t hear them sing again until next May.

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