Personal Essays

tea in the garden at midnight

One teacup, blue-and-white. (One saucer. One willow ware plate.) Two chairs with
baroque red curves. Three trunks of a sheltering palm tree. Four: the numerological
equivalent of my new address. Five fingers of my open hand, where I trace the
evolving lines of my palm. (That word palm again—I may be a bit obsessed.)

This is how I count, these days. The blessings follow one upon another, bright
beads slipping off a silken thread. The drowsy heat, the ecstatic light. Exotic, erotic
flowers, and trees I've never met. Crawfish and catfish and Tabasco on my tongue.
Greetings sung out by strangers, who savor each elastic vowel as it bends.

Boundaries and borders and transitional zones are fecund places. Look to the edge
of the forest, the edge of the sea. As I move through my own transitional zone,
learning these new languages, counting these lightshot beads, everything,
everything is illuminated. How do I merit such flamboyant gifts in the ordinary
moments of my days? It begins to rain and I run to the window to see if gold
coins are falling from the sky.

1,500 miles from home and I know I should be lonely. But here in the dark is this
soft, soft air, a lingering caress. I sit alone in the garden at midnight and know
myself beloved.