Very late last night I was up, notsleeping, wrapped in my fuzzy robe and wearing my nerdy glasses on the porch. I had spent the evening listlessly sifting through books, picking up and putting down Anais Nin, Truman Capote, collections of stories about the connections between writers and the kindnesses of strangers. There aren't any recent nights that need thinking over. I haven't done anything very special or met anyone new and interesting lately. I am stagnant, and unsure how to stir myself out of this little rut.
From somewhere across the street I could hear an open window playing an old "Sea and Cake" album.
One afternoon in Hangzhou, we hauled ourselves all the way across the West Lake and collapsed into a tea room. After we had sipped our tea and let our heart rates return to normal, after we had played a dozen games of cards, the talk turned to poetry. Rich translated for me a Rilke poem from memory. And I loved, right then, that we had brought this German poet with us to China, that there is nowhere in the world that poetry feels irrelevant. I spoke of Corso, grew flushed again over his 'Leaky Lifeboat Boys' and his perfect love poem 'For Lisa, 2'--a poem that I have scratched into the backs of my eyelids for whenever Sunday morning becomes too much.
Walking back out into the ancient world, I understood why Chinese poets always talk of nature.
I have been Nancy Drew lately, only a sandwich and a "jinkies!" away from a Scooby Doo episode. And I have been reading everything I can find about vitrification, the process of changing things into glass. I tend to think of most days as an act of putting small fires out with my hands. Because sure, I could put the fire out and everything could be alright. But if I delay, if I forget or fail to be brave, then I could burn myself and turn my fingerprints to glass. And I fear what might happen to a girl with glass fingerprints.