A happy lamp now sits next to my bed to ease the burden of waking during Seattle’s dreary winter months. Half an hour before the alarm begins tweeting and chirping recordings of bird song, a simulated sunrise slowly yellows the walls. I like to lie in bed for a while and imagine my skin soaking in the light and wakening the nerves deep below the surface.
A sentence is much more beautiful when it is specific about objects. For instance, I woke up in a sprawl of crumpled sheets and stared at my room’s wood-paneled walls. I padded down a cold, creaky staircase and poured coffee made from freshly ground beans into my favorite mug. I placed my mug on the counter—whose edges are chipped from years of wear—above the coffee-stained ringlet from the day before (notice how comforting the language is inside this unclean image). I wondered at the way sunlight suffused through clouds still glows silver on the tabletop. So much of poetry is naming things.
An old friend visited me in a dream and I’m still uncertain why. I was laying in some grass in a park and she came up to me and smiled, and we spoke to each other like that was the normal thing to do, catching up on all those unspoken years. We walked together towards a lake nearby and I thought we might be friends again. Her voice had new lilts and patterns that conveyed change in a way words couldn’t, and her conversation carried the weight of age that her stories and knowing smiles could only hint at. I woke up before we reached the water’s edge.
Etched into my closet door are the words:
Otcober 24 1973
I’m 11. May 8 1962
Written forty-four years ago, but without the date one might believe it was scratched into the wood just before I’d found it. Now I find myself wondering about the two Beckys often: the eleven-year-old scribe, lost in history like a bygone era, and the fifty-five-year-old, who I hope is still alive, and remembers her wood-paneled room with views of Magnolia and the Puget Sound fondly.
I can’t help but think, then, of pictures of my parents when they were younger. My mom with long hair peeking out of a sleeping bag. My dad with a mustache and large, wire-framed glasses. It is as if the 1970s are still happening somewhere else, holding my parents tightly in their youth when my sister, brother, and I were just a “twinkle in their eyes.” I would like to know my parents in these moments too, before time continued its touch.
Sometime before, a few of us were wandering along a path in the woods when we stopped to look out over a bog. We sat down and watched a duck gliding between the reeds in the pompous way they do. Beside the wooden chair bending beneath my weight was a tree with mushrooms clinging to the trunk. Abby knelt over them and ran a finger along one’s edge, cooing at the feel. “It’s rougher than it looks,” she said. A single, green stem of a plant grew beside the tree and she felt that too, shuddering at the touch. “It’s fuzzy like a little creature,” she said. “Do you often touch things?” I said, and she said, “I like to know the way things feel.” So as we continued walking I felt the mushrooms, and the fuzzy green stems, porous rocks, moss clinging to trees, and dirt under my feet, because it seemed odd to not know how everything felt.
I know I am older because mornings are harder. It takes longer to roll out of bed, more time to gather my thoughts. I’d like more time to feel awake. Maybe take an extra moment of staring out the window at the cherry blossoms in the street. Their petals are already dappling the street pink, though it seemed they barely had time to bloom. One day after work I walked out into the street to take pictures of them while they were still bright. After I had taken enough, I came back home and noticed something pink on the bottom of my shoes: stray petals, covering their soles like a garment. They felt soft and smelled sweet—so much lovelier than the pictures I had taken.