Never try to arrange things. Objects and poems are irreconcilable.
~ Francis Ponge
It is the last day of winter, the young, well-dressed neurologist says, looking up from the folder.
Mmm, yes it is, though it wasn't much of a winter, she replies mournfully. In any event, you'll be happy to know that your magnesium/B2 cocktail has taken the edge off the migraines. I haven't spent a full day in bed, dodging light, for two months now.
He's pleased by this news, though not surprised. His patients find relief. This, he knows. He seems to know a lot for his young years. Though she wonders if he, who’s never felt a migraine’s crippling blows—the rapid-fire constriction of nerves and vessels (in her case a three or four-day, often monthly, basal ganglia guerilla warfare, in which she is the only casualty, shut-off, shut down, from family, words, writing, lifeblood)—could ever truly empathize. Nevertheless, what he certainly cannot know is that in less than two hours she'll be sitting in a greyed and splintered teak chair by the table on her deck, in her skinny jeans and black cardigan, kicking off her black flats, unwinding the scarf from around her neck, lunching on last night's leftovers of salad and grilled salmon, debating the tense and POV in which to write this piece, and staring down a pretty, yellow daffodil plant that Mother brought to dinner the previous night. (She had thought to begin with: Mother brought daffodils to dinner last night.) He is confident, but cannot know this. She did not know that the day would progress as such herself. She, nor he, did not know that she'd find Francis Ponge at Symposium Books downtown. Ponge, Celine, Paz, Toussaint, all at steep discount. But she knows that when she leaves, he'll be sitting in his office with his next patient, reading his or her chart, peering up from under his wire-framed glasses and saying, It is the last day of winter.
Tomorrow is the first day of spring, the doctor's receptionist, says, as she hands her her stamped parking ticket and receipt.
Mmm, yes it is, she replies. Spring is such a pretty word.
Oh, it is. Very pretty, a welcome word, the receptionist smiles.
Goodbye my anemic winter, she thinks. Outside, the world is warming. As she walks down the street to the parking garage, she thinks about the daffodils, the color yellow, not like the walls of her kitchen which are tinted the yellow of Provence--a baby mustard--but the yellow of the sun at noontime when, during days that ululate spring, she sits on her deck for lunch and watches the glinting sun center itself above the teak table, much like she'll do today.
"Accept the challenge things offer to language," Ponge says.
(Ponge, who wrote of the wasp [or bee]: A little itinerant siphon, a little distillery on wheels and wings, like the ones that go about from farm to farm through the countryside in certain seasons; a little airborne kitchen, a little public sanitation truck... [they] carry out an intimate activity that's generally quite mysterious... What we call having an inner life.)
Where was she now? Yes, she's left downtown's brick streets and is back home. She's on the deck. Vital fluids flowing. Taking notes: they are Tête-à-Têtes, their heads gently brushing against one another, and they need beaucoup de lumière. So she sets the daffodils out on the weathered teak table for a dose of vitamin D. They are delicate, yet hardy things. Their outer petals are lemony and frosty like a Matisse star. The rippled center cup, trumpeting spring (she can almost hear the music), is slightly darker. The tips of the rubbery, bright green stems are curved upwards in a gothic arch--like the petals--and spliced open where the flowers, in clusters of three, have burst from their casing like electrical wiring freed from insulation. Fireworks!
Her daughter is home from school, now, sitting next to her at the table, gnawing at a slice of watermelon.
Mom, don't you ever get lonely at home? she asks.
No, never. She leans her head back against the top of the chair, And it's so good not have to hide from the light any longer.
(She wonders if Ponge ever wrote about daffodils.)
The next day, it is spring. The sun shining all over again. Daffodils singing their songs and challenging.
Does not everything have an inner life?