Late yesterday afternoon I typed out several dense paragraphs on – Jesus, I can’t even remember what. And then I must have inadvertently deleted them, because I can’t find a trace of any such document now. All I can think is that when I went to post about the tsunami last night, I must’ve composed directly in Blogger, but copied and saved the post in MS Word as if it were simply a second draft, putting it in the already-open document and erasing its preexisting contents without looking. Either that, or I’m losing my mind. Here I have been contentedly reading poetry and thinking about other things since I got up this morning, telling myself I already had today’s post pretty much written. Instead I find this blank space in my files, in my memory. I do recall thinking, “Hadn’t I better jot these thoughts down in my notebook?” but answering myself that no, it would be easier to put flesh on the bones now, while the ideas were still fresh. Too easy!

Ah, whither the abstract maunderings of yesterday? For that matter, whither atrophy? But I do remember the vague half-thoughts I had in the morning, walking about in the ice-cold wind with great delight at the clearness of the air. Sharp contrasts, so beloved of simplistic orators and fear-mongering politicians, also characterize the favored terrain of artists – especially photographers. Winter with its perpetually low sun and desert-like conditions appears to simplify things, but really, that’s a bit of an illusion. The reduction of complexity often makes fundamental mysteries that much harder to ignore. Picture the bent back of a light-skinned nude against a black background, head, neck, and limbs hidden: a fine ceramic vessel, you’d think. And the chilled hands long for contact – the fingertips to ghost along that flange that used to be a spine – even as the eyes strive to resolve desire’s banished shadow with this radiant perfection.

I have no trouble remembering how I sat out on my front stoop with a mug of hot tea around 2:30, the brim of my cap pulled low against the sun, watching the translucent wings of chickadees and juncos among the cattails and then the midnight black of a feral cat slinking through the weeds. The sky was as blue as it ever gets. I worried about the cat, so painfully skinny now at the start of winter. As I watched, it pounced once, twice but came up empty: no squirming furry body between its teeth, not even the shadow of a smile that might linger on when, Cheshire-like, the rest of it fades away. The tea in my mug stayed warm for a surprisingly long time.

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