For remembering the dream of visiting friends in their New York apartment, placing cut flowers in a wire vase; its open mesh will not hold water. For the alarm that carries me from dream into foggy morning. For the neighbors whose car alarm ensures that I not lapse back to dreaming. For the pillow that retains my imprint after my head has lifted from its surface. For the cat who cries at the door after his night’s wanderings. For the music that flows from the stereo speakers; its mantra grounds me in purpose. For the cushion that raises my hips as I sit on the floor to meditate. For the prayer I offer up to the eastern sky, and for the Listener. For the breath that buoys me. For my body that stretches and creaks as it opens to movement. For my legs that fall asleep as I sit too long. For the timer that chimes when it is time to be done with sitting.
For the garden beyond my window, wet with sprinkler rain. For the mockingbirds whose song fills the morning. For the round globes of grapefruit swinging yellow from their tree. For the profusion of red geranium that grows along the wall, intertwining with the vines on which grapes are just beginning to set. For the carmine and white blooms of oleander along the fence. For the newspaper that waits on the driveway. For the window at which I sit, pen in hand, observing.
For the humble pen that is the channel for these words. For the paper that waits patiently to capture whatever might flow from the pen. That waits even when the pen is dry. That receives uncritically even when the pen is false. For the sentinels—well-thumbed dictionary and thesaurus—that stand nearby. For the candle that flickers in pre-dawn gloom, lights my way. For the table at which I sit, glass-topped patio table brought into the house. For the words that come, and for the words that don’t.
For the pomegranate juice I sip, and for the trees that grew it and for the laborers who picked it and boxed it and for the workers who squeezed and bottled it and for the truckers who drove it into the city and for the grocers who stocked it and for the checker who flirted with me a bit as she scanned my purchase into her register and for the money I paid for it and for the persons who gave me that money. Even fruit juice is part of the vast web. As are you and I.
For the vitamins I swallow like prayers and for the water that washes it down. For the water that comes from the faucet like a miracle, from a complex network of pipes like the circulatory system, and for which I do not have to walk ten miles and carry it back in a jug atop my head. For the water so plentiful that I can immerse my body in a tubful and then let it drain away.
For the phone that rings and brings news of a friend or a client or something utterly unexpected. For the machine that will capture this message so that I may respond to it later. For the computer that logs in my email messages—such a welter of things to know and do. For the person behind each one of them, thinking of me, even those who do not know me. For the client requesting I re-do the job I wrote for her; for the organization leader requesting my presence at a meeting; for the activist who forwards a message asking me to boycott a soft drink because its manufacturer wants to do away with employee health benefits. For the postman, with his heavy satchel, who stuffs my mailbox with bills and catalogues and, today, two rejection notices for my latest manuscript. For those people who take the time to read my work, even when they do not choose to publish it.
For the sun that emerges from cloud cover in late morning, for the wind that picks up mid-afternoon to disperse the beige overhang of smog. For the sound of wind chimes on my porch. For the ten-year-old boy next door who calls me by my name, to whom I am a great anomaly: a woman without husband or children. For the cat who stretches long on the driveway, baring his belly for my hand. For the ants on their long, industrious march seeking entry to the kitchen. For the half-consumed carcass of the young mockingbird, left on the step as a prize.
For the work I am able to complete. For the work I had planned to do but didn’t get to. For the work I attempted to complete but hit a snag—insufficient data, computer malfunction, ennui. For the work I never planned to do today but must tackle in the near future, piles that glare ominously from across the room. For the interruptions, sometimes blessed, sometimes aggravating.
For the small car accident. For two parking tickets this month. For these reminders to pay attention. For the check that’s delayed in its arrival. For the printer that won’t print. For the traffic that makes me late. For the calendar pages, each box crowded. For the boundless list of errands.
For the grocery store, its narrow aisles and crowded parking lot. For the selection of fresh produce—spinach, asparagus, herb salad, zucchini, green beans, artichokes, tomatoes, bananas, grapes, pears, cherries, peaches, avocadoes. For rice and spices. For the yellow gladiolas I take home and place on my altar.
For the freeways that carry me across town and back, freeways like rivers of lights, freeways so brimming with life. For the driver on the phone. For the one who’s lost. For the salesman eating his lunch. For the secretary applying her make-up. For the consultant flossing his teeth in the rearview mirror. For the teenager tailgating me. For the delivery truck that keeps changes lanes without signaling. For the student driver going so slow. For the elderly woman riding the brake. For the driver of the Hummer with the tinted windows.
For my friend who gardens with battered women. For my friend who’s lost faith in herself. For my friend who shops. For my friend who is taking her vows as a Buddhist nun. For my friend who choreographs dances in tunnels, in rivers, on the sides of multi-story buildings. For my friend who’s having trouble with her lover. For my friend who’s having trouble with her job. For my friend who had her kidney removed.
For my friend who meets me for writing dates. For my friend who’s buying a house with her new man. For my friend who’s consulting on a project in Bali. For my friend whose play is the toast of London. For the ex who’s now my best friend. For the ex who’s up to her old tricks. For the ex who no longer speaks to me. For my students who’ve sold their books. For my student who’s sending out her poems. For my student who’s returning to the book he stopped working on four years ago.
For the newspaper that brings me stories of war. For the TV news that brings me stories of government corruption in between commercials for the newest drugs. For the radio that brings me stories of environmental degradation. For the online news that lets me know what Brad and Angelina are up to. For the look of worry on my friends’ faces as they contemplate the news.
For the polished floor and high ceilings of the yoga studio. For the white-garbed teachers who guide us through ancient postures and breath patterns. For blocks that unwind as muscles release. For the spine that lengthens. For habits of mind that slip away under the discipline of movement. For the cells that relinquish their history and are once more open vessels through which energy sparks and glides. For the beautiful emptiness that overtakes me at last as I sink into shivasana at the end of class.
For the ambers and periwinkles that accompany sunset. For the palm trees that go black against the fading golden light. For my bruised car that knows its way through the familiar streets that lead toward home, where the lamp has turned on in the living room. Where the cat waits behind the screen door for the sound of the engine he knows so well.
For the thousand thoughts that flicker with each blink of an eye. Wink in and out. For those that burst into flame and illuminate some dark corner. For those corners that remain unlit, mysterious.