A Necessary Virtue: Saturday Morning

bronze_armchairA busy day awaits, so I tried to make a virtue of necessity and allowed myself an hour to write this morning. Here’s what came up with, probably more exercise than composition, but all I can manage:

Quiet seems more complete when the heater’s blowers die, and the outside noises that our inside noises erase suddenly become audible—the L roaring past, tires crushing snow, a whoop of laughter into a cell phone. Inside, everything is still but an insulating film over the fireplace, a covering my wife added during bitter cold two weeks ago. It bellows with drafts and winds, and I imagine it as a giant eardrum, sighing on its own as it gathers every vibration and variation of pressure.

The house is so still this morning, I see myself in every object and perceive them as companionable. My family shares our home with things we admired, wanted, needed, received, surrendered to. Sometimes these things have their own voices, announcing their provenance as your eye falls on them:

  • a drawing an art teacher at my old school gave me, a casual doodle that once seemed the dissected limb of an alien but now, sun worn, returns to whiteness again.
  • my daughter’s backpack beached beside the chair we threw it out of
  • boots and shoes on a mat by the door, speaking the desperation with which they were thrown off, home at last—their hulls bump as if some unseen current moved them
  • the cutting board squeezed between the drainer and the sink wall in the part we never use, the board’s face scratched and scarred with incidental art
  • a nearly finished sweater, a Christmas present from mother to daughter—green nearly black in the twilight this time of day—draped over the back of the couch and trailing yarn to the floor. It looks marine to me, a sinuous creature attenuated by life in the sea and unsuited to gravity
  • a badly stacked pile of folded New York Times Book Reviews, all unread, their half-faces staring up blankly

Meanwhile, as I create this list, the day stirs. Three floors down, someone scrapes the sidewalk of last night’s snow. Upstairs, my wife clicks the computer mouse. These noises don’t advance time as a watch ticking does, but, irregular as they are, they mark moments as well, alerting me to the doing I ought to start too. The L passes. The heater kicks to life—the blower followed by the throat-clearing ignition of flames to heat air. No silence will stay. I can’t stay. Light, even the gray light of an overcast day, demands motion.

Maybe things watch me as I do them, each of us having our instant of visibility, our utterance, our place, our beginning, our purpose. Something calls us, and we are. Something prods me on.

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6 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Chicago, Essays, Experiments, Home Life, Identity, life, Meditations, Metaphor, Modern Life, Place, Prose Poems, Silence, Solitude, Thoughts, Urban Life, Voice, Winter, Writing

6 responses to “A Necessary Virtue: Saturday Morning

  1. Nice descriptions and imagery. And good for you for having the discipline to take that hour before Saturday’s busyness begins, when Saturdays must be precious as gold to a teacher.

  2. So serene–sometimes just being a witness to the things around us is enough to start the day off right. They are so much a part of who we are.

  3. a secret fan

    The roaring L, the swooshing heater, Beth clicking the mouse away upstairs, it’s like I’m still living with you guys. The little things that haven’t changed and hopefully never will.

    Excuse my creepy comment. I miss you! -Q

    • dmarshall58

      Not so secret, really. It’s so wonderful to think you’re out there reading my writing, and, if I gave you a little dose of your other home, that makes me even more happy. I hope everything is going well and that we can talk soon. Love, D.

  4. One of the few virtues of living in the Snow Belt is that quiet morning after an evening’s gentle snow. Your descriptions sum up that feeling vividly.

    • dmarshall58

      Thanks. I’ve been looking for the same quiet since then and have had a hard time finding it. At least every once and in a while I manage to get a few moments of genuine peace. Hope you do too. –D

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