My birthday began with the water –
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days”
—’Poem in October’ from Dylan Thomas’ Collected Poems
I had decided that morning to fix the tile around the small bathroom window. It had cracked some time ago and repair was in order before some damage set in. I got out a small box of tools to crack the tile so that I can remove it without setting too much damage to the others around it (list the tools). I had a…
I decided it was a good idea to give the wife a good day off and sent her off with a friend to see a movie to have lunch and talk about their husbands, the usual fare married women in their thirties begin doing. Fair game.
Seeing I had pretty much all I needed I took the walk from the open garage across the rear patio and into the house, hung a right after the kitchen (looked at the picture of Monica on the wall as I always do) and entered the opened door bathroom at the end of the hall. I decided, well, let’s get this started and proceeded to hammer out the selected area around the tile.
No music I had just decided to concentrate on the work. A little music, -Booker T and the MG’s, and I ‘d probably start making myself a sandwich. I know myself…
No I decided this was enough, solitude, peace and quiet just like it was 2:30 in the morning only it was bright and warm. a beautiful day outside.
I decided ah what the hell I’ll whistle but that again turned into a song
Lyin, cheatin’, hurtin
that’s all you seem to do…
As I imagined my way thru Led Zeppelin’s first album I was struck by the beauty of certain moments from childhood, such as this, when I would play by a window with the sun on my back and watch the dust specks pirouette as if I were observing some small universe. I decided let’s stop and drink this in a bit. I closed my eyes, I breathed thru my nostrils. It was clean. I did it again. I felt embraced. Red all around. I then slowly, deliberately opened my eyes, remembering as I had done as a curious teen intent on one day trying LSD, and could observe the stretching light can play when the eyelashes brush the light as it enters the sight centers of the brain filling them with colors other than red once again.
It was upon this slow opening that I heard my first bird call.
It wasn’t my first of course but this one was like I had never heard one before. I don’t think I had ever to that point gave a rats ass about the sound of some bird but this had an affect on me. I decided while the bird continued to sing to look down at my hands and noticed I had dropped all my tools as they now lay scattered around the floor of the tub. I didn’t care. A sudden urge to smile overtook me, my breathing slowly increased and my eyes began to water. I was so incredibly happy at this moment with the sound of the little bird that I touched my face. I imagined myself a saint. My open mouth now trembled with joy as a tear traveled down my cheek.
I decided I wanted to go outside but by not leaving this spot, ever. I just wanted to stand here in this tub and listen to that bird, forever.
I listened and listened and listened. I turned the black record over in my mind and listened to some more, I hung around till the very end when the grooves were playing and the bumps were signaling it was now dark outside.
It was now dark outside, hours had passed. I heard the front door slam, my wife had just gotten home. She was saying something I could hear her shoes getting closer as they walked around the house. I could hear her keys. As I visualized her getting closer to seeing me I had decided, without thinking really, to leap out of the tub and slammed the door shut.
The door shook. Once, then three times, then her voice said my name.
“Jim, are you using the bathroom?”
“Yes” I said “be out in a minute”
“Hurry up okay I have to go too…”
I began to panic, I’m not sure why, only I knew there was no way in hell I wanted to leave that bathroom. Ever. I had heard of saints like Hildegaard of Bingen that were cloistered and had food delivered to them. Even remembered some photos I had once seen in an encyclopedia of Dylan Thomas’ hermitage on the Irish Sea. Books, I decided I wanted books. Lots of them. All around me. I wanted old encyclopedia’s the kind you get at the church rummage sales, dusty and old from the sixties with the laminate pages of internal organs in the human anatomy sections. I decided I would have walls of stacked books would also have openings of no books, windows to poke my head thru so I could listen to the birds. I decided to ask my wife if she could bring me a sandwich.
“A sandwich?” she said.
Jim Cardenas was born in the Summer of Love and lives in the San Fernando Valley.