Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Happiest Thing

A blue jay pair has begun building a nest on a tiny ledge outside the French doors which open to the outside beside our bed. One of the blue jays weaves, and squirms in its centre to form the nest, the other brings food. My wife says, getting dressed for court, where she will defend a woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband, "This is the happiest thing that could have happened." I wonder what would be my top ten happiest events for today? I'm happy that Steve Reich won the Pulitzer Prize, but that wouldn't make my list. I'm happy my hurt back is well enough that I can walk and I can go to work -- or I'm happy that it is well enough that I am able go to work. I enjoyed yesterday where I stayed home and 'off my feet' and wrote and read. I'm happy I finally read "The Double Hook" by Sheila Watson. I bought it over twenty years ago. I'm delighted to have read Mary Ruefle's "The Most of It," which would have knocked me off my feet, if I'd not already been off them. I was happy yesterday to play saxophone with my daughter in preparation for her school concert, happy to listen to "The Goldberg Variations" performed by Gould on the stereo my wife bought me for a --I think it was-- birthday (or else Hannukah) present this year. I'm happy to have the morning off today, time to write, have a bath, breakfast, and wake my Morpheus-clutched sons. And if I were to compile a list "nine things that are the happiest thing for today, wouldn't it seem as if I'm missing one, that there'd be a phantom happiness, a long-lost happiness, a secret happiness never mentioned and living in another province, perhaps under an assumed name or totally different emotion?


I wish I was a sparrow and had wings to fly. I’d fly right home to the place where the idea of wings, flight, wishes, or indeed sparrows was sustainable, he sang, and then put his guitar down. I’ve lived all my life in this cardboard box with a kind of resigned happiness, for the box is almost endless and it is all I know, he said. Somehow, I feel that my true home is a place with trees. Or a place above the trees. A place where I could walk for miles and miles, and the trees—but first the shrubs and bushes and the small summer flowers—would gradually appear as I walk further and further from the people whom I love and who sustain each other in the bitter cold and around the family fire. Would there be sparrows? Before I was born, there was a kind of sparrow-like feeling inside my mother. In my womb, I feel that the idea of wings and flight, wishes, or indeed sparrows is now sustainable, mother said to father one morning as she looked over the ice floes. And later that summer when I was born, my father sharpened his bone knife, the knife that he had made the previous summer from the fin of a large and intelligent sea creature, then decorated himself with the signs and sigils that indicated the place where our little family first came from beneath the moon and stars and between the cold mountains, my father sharpened this knife on a black stone and cut off, first from one side, and then the other, the delicate snow-white wings that grew from each of my shoulders, then severed the dark chain that connected me to my mother, that connected me to her feeling of flight.

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