Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
You think of Sigmund Freud. You have a little bust of him on your desk, one you bought at the Freud home when you and your wife were in Vienna. Or at least Freud is where your day starts. You leave your window open. Just up the hill, there is a Catholic playground. You never see the children. They’re just over the crest, but you can hear their squeals of playful delight. At noon, you also hear the Angeles bell from the nearby church, the very church in which you spent your childhood, the very church in which you were married. It, too, is invisible to you. Somehow this mix makes sense, yet remains just slightly out of sight — Freud, play, prayer, your wife — as you stare out the window and wonder what you’ll write today.
But you don’t write. You stare out the window. Perhaps that’s where a poem begins. In an absence. No one notices when a playground is silent. No one notices when a church bell is silent. No one notices a nun grading papers. No one notices a priest cleaning a chalice. No one will notice you at your window.
Even the man who jogs by, an iPod in his ears, is silent. As he jogs uphill, as he comes close to the crest and hence the horizon, you wish to yell at him, force him to yell back. But it’s half-light, and the street still goes uphill.
You inventory your yard. Pine, twilight, beast, leaf, pulse and fence, raven, root. In the west, from work, a husband caught on a detour lengthened tonight by longing.
A woman walks a small dog. A woman dressed in a black pants suit. Perhaps she is just now home from work. The wind blows through her hair, and through the gap between here and her skin. You feel safe. No one has done her harm, and no one has done you harm. Your vigilance has a purpose. Therefore, this passer-by has a purpose. Or so it seems.
Still, you are grateful when all these people have passed. When you have the window and its view to yourself. When your mind is not cluttered with children or church bells or Freud and joggers and other passers-by. You wish you knew when it’s best to consider Confession. You would settle for a Rosary, perhaps The Luminous Mysteries, except a drizzle, a mist really, begins. A whole day and you didn’t notice when it became overcast and evening. You consider closing your window. But the mist stops as quickly as it begins, leaving you and your window and what’s outside untouched. In a flat upstairs and crosswise from your home, a cigarette glows. In the dark, a neighbor spits a bit of lung. Tonight, a cigarette glows in the dark and is crushed.
You wait. You consider tomorrow, tomorrow’s weather, your pension and such and, suddenly, you desire not the sex but her eyes looking back at you. You weigh your past against your future. It doesn’t help when you forget to close the window. You do remember a contrail in the east. You go to the front door. You open the front door. You wait. Last night in the street, a baseball rolled by followed by nothing, no one, not a soul. Tonight, you listen for the leaves beneath your wife’s footfall on the lawn.
Copyright 2016 John Samuel Tieman