I came upon this quote before reading this week’s prompt at Big Tent Poetry
The quote started humming immediately. When I then went to retrieve the prompt, I swear it took one look at me, ran off backstage and hid somewhere in the rafters. I tried to follow, but the humming just got louder and louder. My apologies to the rest of you who found the prompt. I never did. Got into a bit of music no one else could hear.
Whoever leads a solitary life, and yet now and then wants to attach himself somewhere; whoever, according to changes in time of day, the weather, the state of his business and the like, suddenly wishes to see any arm at all to which he might cling – he will not be able to manage for long without a window looking on to the street. (Kafka, The Street Window)
Do not own a street window, one that allows access to people busily moving
from chore of obligations, racing toward leisure, checking time
to make sure they can spare space in minutes spent purchasing a life,
or simply driving through one. Peering out other windows, unable to see
own pleasure or envy. Meeting for lunch, or secret liaison, gathering
in large, or small bunched groups, to celebrate a likeness only hoped
to be visible. Raising a raucous voice in true or false sounds of laughter
or gaiety. No, for that, I must walk down carpeted hallway to a door
which owns only small glazed aperture that affords no more than blurred
shadow of what lies beyond. Most days, I don’t go that way.
Rent instead, windows that reach all the way from floor to ceiling, clear
view of small concrete patio, and green grassed alley that runs to tall
wooden fence blocking entrance to all but rooftops, high branches of trees,
and evocative sky that forecasts coming weather. Tells me all of its feelings:
sometimes dances like a devil to thunderous music, or broodingly looks on,
like silent audience in darkened threater, where strobe-light flashes reveal
unreal world of slim gnarled trees that lash themselves with branches as thin
as arms of child starving in Africa. At times, tips its finest blue bonnet
to show me gigantic white mums that trim its crown, or pivots that I might
applaud mauve and lavender veils it swirls around itself for warmth on cool
summer evenings. Always allows just enough sunshine to nurture
whatever life finds root in this narrowed pasture.
And what life there is: small finches in various shades from butter cream,
to almost orange of jasmine yellow. Bobbing morning doves that coo
in soft hues of tan and grey, pecking their way through curve of tree roots.
An occasional cardinal who answers call of pursed lips with a swift flick
of his cocked head, and once, a hawk who mantled, then landed
for only a moment in camera ready pose, before launching himself toward
currents, and a slow game of tag with wispy clouds of spring afternoon.
Rabbits, soft brindled brown, chase and race one another through grass,
as squirrels prance along top of fence, stopping only when I softly click
my tongue in their direction. A black and white cat that, each evening,
just after 8pm, streaks her way past on sure path to somewhere.
Know of a man who takes photographs through different shaped windows,
to frame moon with all of her valleys, canyons silhouetted in grey
indentations. And another, who once bought, then installed brand new
windows, but never finished, so drapes hid cracks of crumbling plaster,
gaping wounds of darkness the color of moon shadows. 8pm cat
streaks by, whirling my thoughts like wind that sometimes whistled through
those broken gaps of plaster. And remember how, every week or two,
that black and white feline brakes her run, slinks over to rest on haunches
as she peers into my tall glass wall, and I wonder if it has become
her street window… my arm, that one she unwittingly seeks to cling to.
Elizabeth Crawford 7/30/10