In Screen Saver I chronicle the cycle of things – at least the cycle of things that I have seen and, the cycle of things that means anything to me.
Among those cycles are the mountain ash trees and their leaves and flowers and berries as they progress from sprays of fairy laced light green leaves that never get very big, through the time in which their flowers first appear and emanate a smell very much like rotten meat, through the time - which is most of the late spring and all of the summer – when they just disappear into the general greenness of things, and finally to that day when the season turns as also do the mountain ash: their berries suddenly flash through the hum drum green of what is still left of summer, and they make a violently deep red orange flash-of-color statement; they say that they were their all along; and they say – with their red orange flash - that they had more important things to do than participate on the front of the stage of summertime.
Also among those cycles are the chestnut trees, starting from gray trunked winter barrenness, through their first sign of life in the spring, that sign being the appearance of myriad clusters of leaves, all looking like miniature palm trees, which are quickly followed by a burst of purple throated, cream colored flowers, that become nubbins, that become, by summer’s end, golf ball sized piñatas of Autumn munificence, which, when struck by just the right blast of chill wind, dump shining hoards of deep brown treasures to the earth on the streets where they live, to be picked up by children and treasured, briefly, before they shrivel, become dull and are discarded, or don’t get picked up, and just shrivel and become dull in place where they have fallen, to be ground to meal by passing cars, and, subsequently, washed down the gutter to waiting grates of waiting storm drains, and gone forever.
I took a great deal of satisfaction in that chronicle.
Why might that be?
No reason, really, I have to guess; except that I savor using the words that it takes to exhume the description of those things, the chestnuts and all, from their annual grave, and force them back out into the light of day.
But that is not what it is. That is not what it is it all.
What it is is is that, by chronicling those things, my most deeply hidden sense of self, or of being, or of existence, can re-manifest itself or re-enforce itself, and by so re-enforcing, perhaps, it can occlude the obvious: that each cycle leaves one less left for me, no matter how many there might be left for the rest of things.
That spate of words brings me to what it is that is on my mind at this moment.
Twenty One December is the shortest day of the year. On the calendar it is six months away – quite a number of seconds, minutes, hours or days (or heartbeats) away from twenty one June, which is the longest day of the year. But in the Screen Saver chronicles it is so close to its sister day as to be functionally adjacent.
Because for me, any more, the shortest and the longest days are not differentiated. Nor are the chestnuts, mountain ashes and the rest. They are just a blur flying by on some crazed from here to there apparatus of eternal propulsion. In the case of the longest day and the shortest day, like some sort of mad GIF animation they flash past, first one, then the other,with frightening speed, and with an apparently diminishing interval between with each flash.
Twenty one December is also the day when I became a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1964.
I guess that that is forty six years since gone.
But I don’t have to guess about other things in relation to that date.
I know it is before I went to Saigon and sunk into a pit of depression that nearly took me.
I know it is before I went to work for IBM and wondered how I was, possibly, going to survive in what was, apparently the adult world.
I know it is long after my mother, in a car, on 32nd Avenue, just down the street from my grandparent’s house (where what my mother was just about to tell me had happened) said “Annie died”.
I know that it is before Mysti and I became a unit in the middle of a bridge over a river in the desert of Central Oregon, or before I had had the dream that had released me forever from Ruth on that bridge in Paris with a view of Les Invalides.
What I don’t know, and for some reason, for the first time ever, the question has occurred to me, and the question, to my surprise for a first time question, has some degree of urgency: “how many more? how many more?”