Journal pages.

July 24, 2019

The sun has bent down to peer beneath the heavy blanket of a cloud-shadowed day. We cannot see her face — the drama breaks behind a stand of evergreens just west of the house — but we know by the luminous evidence, by how the clouds are warmed to gold by her surprise.

As if feeling relief and permission now to rest, our windows begin to forget their concerns about the screaming fire station next door to the east, our immigrant neighbors’ newly painted home (strangely empty) to the west. The day’s dramas begin to fade from the large front window above my antique writing desk — the rumble of traffic and the murmur of pedestrians down our street, still busy behind the permeable barrier of branches, our lethargic Japanese maple, our stealthy ivies (a large-leafed “Crimson Glory” intimately entwined with a grapevine that is already exploding with firm green clusters of promises).

We are quiet together, Anne and I. We are weary. Everything feels like an echo, distant, in this new hollow of a recent harrowing: a father whose sudden departure we have only begun to grieve.

We’ve raised a few of the old vintage panes in their rickety wooden frames so we can hear the evening breathing through this house. But we pull the shades now, drape a string of white sparks — Christmas lights — across our western window above the dinner table, and turn on two tower lamps in the living room whose warm glow recalls the sunset’s fleeting flare.

Our focus turns to what’s indoors, a space that is, itself, streaming with currents.

Anne is on the burgundy couch, the pink veins of her earbuds heartbeating her music from the laptop that shines like a bright morning window beside her. I can’t see what she is seeing in that frame, but she is smiling.

Behind the screen, framed by stacks of freshly folded underwear and socks, the large black cat, Mardukas, all muscle and twitching, is deeply in dreams.

I’m in high-backed red chair, the one that might feel like a throne if I did not still vividly remember the humiliating spectacle I became for the whole neighborhood as I awkwardly wrestled it home from an estate sale a few blocks away. Slumped in its forgiving arms, I write with my back to the writing desk and the front window. I am trying to bring something to the page, and it, too, is unwieldy — I won’t know what it is until I set it down.

Between the chair and the desk waits our long blue suitcase, its canvas frame already half-packed with clothes in stacks, books, pill bottles, a zipper case full of blu-rays and DVDs for our upcoming trip to Santa Fe — only four days from now.

On the big screen, the film 24 Frames is playing, a sequence of still photographs teased into subtle life by imaginative digital artists: views of landscapes, weather, and animals as captured, imagined, enhanced, and dreamed by Abbas Kiarostami, who recently passed. Each view, for almost five minutes, is blessedly free of talk, opening and closing uncertainly, like a prayer. We have traded our windows for someone else’s.

A breeze from the Pacific has come up the hill to cool us, while wind from our TV’s sound bar testifies of past storms in Iran, while we dream of sipping smoked sage margaritas and savoring the Santa Fe monsoons to come.

I pick up the new collection of Scott Cairns poetry and read of a memory of a boy who, standing at the Pacific Ocean’s edge, looks into the distance with a sense of something yet to be revealed.

“Ave Maria,” sung in a soprano’s reverie, fills up the open space like wine.

Zooey, our lean and anxious tortoise-shell cat, skulks into the room, springs onto Anne’s lap, settles, perches, hunches on her knee, and scowls at me. In all of these crisscrossing currents of light and air and sound and thought and memory and dream and attention, she is fixed on the one thing that angers her: the sense that we are leaning — slow, quiet, intent — toward departure.