Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Morning Ritual

I gather up my hair into a loose ponytail and slip a black sleeveless dress over my head. I take one of the last sips of my second and final cup of coffee of the day, and I slather on my expensive face creams. (This act always calls to mind the Jewel poem I read once in her book A Night without Armor.)

I clasp my favorite pearls at the back of neck without even looking in the mirror. Practice has perfected this morning ritual. I unleash the hair again. I think about brushing it, but no. Disheveled is okay. Disheveled is better. I pad my bare feet down the carpeted hallway to the sing-song of my son's voice repeating his breakfast request: "Eggs, toast, and chocolate milk, please." He doesn't stop chanting his preferences until I acknowledge and agree, smiling at his persistence.

I let the dog out the back door, and then I crack the last three eggs into the egg-poacher. I make a mental note...add eggs to the grocery list that already includes milk and dishwashing liquid and something else I can't remember. Just when the egg yolks begin to harden, I know it's time to put the bread into the toaster. Timing is everything. And when the toast pops up, it must be buttered immediately if it's going to be any good at all. I cut the toast into a heart shape (my son's favorite) with the kitchen shears and then carefully extract the hardened yolks from the eggs. I eat the buttered crusts myself and am satified by them. I don't feel a lack, as some women might, in eating just the crusts. They're enough for me. I sprinkle a little sea salt on his egg whites, and serve him his breakfast in the living room while he watches his morning cartoons.

Then I sit down with my laptop and write to you. You, whoever you may be. Is it morning where you are? I search the internet for the Jewel poem about face cream but do not find it. I reluctantly traipse into the basement where I know the book is, and flip through the pages so that I might share it with you. I scan the titles, but don't recognize any of them by name. I'll have to actually read through some of the poems to find it. (I am quietly pleased that I'll have a reason to read poetry so early in my day.)

I find it on page 27:

"Dionne & I"

We looked in the fridge only to see moldy Kraft singles
and some eye cream. That eye cream was our pride and
joy, so extravagant and luxurious, it made us feel rich.
The cracked walls of the bathroom fading away into the
small lights of her tiny vanity mirror.

We may have had no food, but we knew the eye cream was
all we needed--we were both young, with pretty faces and a
lot of faith in the system.
Some men would take us out.

As I'm copying the poem, my husband opens the basement door to descend to his home office, and I yell "I love you" after him. The door shuts at the same time, without a reply.. "Didn't hear me..." I think. Just then, the door swings open again and he, grinning widely, leans his head back into the living room. "I love you, TOO," he says, and the door shuts once more.

I squint at the closed door, and I suddenly I realize that I've forgotten to put in my contact lenses. The whole morning has been blurry, and I haven't even noticed.

7 Things not left unsaid:

Megan said...

There is something oddly comforting about refrigerated face creams. I liked the poem.

If you could pick an event that ripples outward and influences many different characters, in good ways and bad, what would it be? As a writing exercise. I've been working on my own version for a while now.

B. Haven said...

My first thought was "car crash," but it's too macabre. I need to think of something else...what's your catalyst event?

Megan said...

A single night out, after a concert. Some inebriated words are exchanged between two people. Nothing is ever quite the same for one of them.

B. Haven said...

I thought of another...a twenty-something woman accidentally throws her own journal into the book drop when she returns her library books...I love when parts of books are written in journal-entry form.

Megan said...

I like. I can imagine how that might change a few lives. : ) I also like journal or letter-entry format, but my favorite is a great memoir.

Keetha said...

Cool idea about slipping a journal into a library drop box...

Also, I loved this post - what a great slice of life!

And another also...that photo on my blog you asked about? It is actually what used to be a brick storefront in downtown Winona, Miss., although I see how it could look like a jail!

Liza said...

I just love how you write. You pull me in so easily. I enjoy that.

I also love those times when you think he didn't hear, or he's asleep. Yet he replies with an "I love you, too" That never stops feeling good.