the brightest restaurant in all the world

In the benign lights is pollution, but not so much so that you could not see Orion perfectly out the window. There is the spear, there the dagger, there the head of the god, always wanting what he could never have; first the women then the doves then the stars. Always following those stars through the winter and infinity.  Their catasterism was his undoing, and, unable to let them go, he followed them up.

So many empty boxes, so much food left uneaten.

The brightest restaurant in all the world, garnishing the night. I can’t stop dropping my things. I can’t stop drinking the water that always comes back. I could call that nervousness but that’s not quite right. I’ve been here for years, I’m renewing the lease.

I keep burning the roof of my mouth. I don’t know how to stop. The worst thing is having ambition and nothing to do with it as it devalues and everyone has a garland around them, except yours isn’t so full, isn’t so flourishing because you don’t water it often. It’s your own fault, you keep drinking the water but you don’t ever save it. Are you getting the most out of your water? Are you sure? I’ve got all these keys on the ring; we can leave now if you want to.

So you go to other houses, and see how they live. They all have skylights; they all live greener than you. It’s not so much jealousy but its kin, a kind of notion that maybe you could live like that if you did things differently. You’re always walking with skates on. Make sure to lace the back so you don’t hurt your ankles; at least then you could keep walking.

The brightest restaurant in all the world is full of mirrors. Mirrors so the waiters see around you, mirrors so it looks bigger, mirrors so you can see yourself wherever you look, and that’s not quite unpleasant so much as unsettling. The soap in the bathroom was making me sick so I had to stop using it and everyone takes off their coats, but I didn’t bring one. I let my scarf fall off the chair until I pile it in my lap. I can’t eat much anymore; I’m not finding as many stains. So that’s the silver lining, the thing that burnishes the garland around my neck. The silver pin holding it all in place.

At least it’s warm in here. At least I have someone I love. The rest doesn’t matter so much to me. The garland can grow if I can care for it in the brightest restaurant in all the world. Isn’t that crazy? I sat in the brightest restaurant in all the world.

Crossing into Albany over the River

It’s only just started to snow past Poughkeepsie. The conductor says take a walk, take a smoke, take ten minutes, but no more. The dining car is closed. Crossing over the Hudson, the Basques take over, and then chemise a la Reine, then the bones of our ancestors. OrlandoEthan Frome. Scraggly woods which promise wolves, past the snowy mists. Splashes of red down in the ditch, like blood, like cell clusters mounting the tributary arteries; wheat follicles line the face of another world.

Deep in the snow, black waters trudge on unimpeded yet slowly, with the viscosity of sludge, carrying winter within it. In that way we are the same. People tend not to consider bears; wolves — the threat of packs and coordinated attack — seem far worse and more eminent than a lumbering, engorged, large-eyed beast. But it can run. It has claws. Weight behind power, instead of agility.

In the white wild, there is the body, there is the big red machine, a warm heart pumping blood in the cold. The tassels of the pines must survive in the wind and snow, a faint plumage to brighten the dead, stripped of all but the internal life preserved in syrup and sap. Pikes find themselves stacked into coherence, shapes we recognize; placed before their dormant brethren, spared in place of uselessness, too thin, too unsubstantiated; too uncontrolled. Always a capacity for ignorance.

If you run your tongue over the roof of your mouth, it feels like waves. Bare trees offer blooded cones; the water churns with river silt and sand, gravid with ice, while upstream a ways the water steams in the cold air. All dormant, a natural gestation until the spring, so you can come back renewed. The big red machine, churning onwards.