Everyday Majesty

July 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

I ducked out of the office early yesterday, having finished my quota of data analysis for the day early and feeling the onset of a migraine, and took the 3 pm shuttle home. Of course, by the time I arrived home, I had been rocked in and out of sleep by the rickety inter-hospital shuttle, and my migraine dissipated. So instead of going back to ensconce myself in my cave of a room, I chose a little table by the side of TMEC, our med ed building, and resumed working on a piece of fiction on my laptop.

Every single time that I took a break and looked up to people-watch, I saw lab coats, and talk of publishing woes and resistant cell cultures, and harried students flitting between god-knows-where, and then I would look back down at my laptop and intermittently build paragraphs between reading poems about birdwatching and listening to the soundtrack of Wake Up Sid.

This place hasn’t been easy to reach. It hasn’t always been comfortable to remove myself from the race to Cell, Nature and Science, that consumes many of my classmates, and take pride and comfort in my own, rather unobtrusive passions. To put faith in my writing as a masterful instrument worth nurturing, to find that room with wide windows and streaming sunlight and sweet warmth worth inhabiting. That takes a kind of confidence that even established writers fight to retain.

I wrote for over two hours, and was thinking that I would go until 6:30, then break for dinner, when it happened. There was a whistling, and my skirt rose up, and as I straightened it out, the table umbrella sucked a large breath and began to spin. I stared, slackjawed, as it then began to rise, an inch at a time, but with the gravity and surety of Atlantis or something, and soon simply lifted clean off the table and into the air. I was sitting at the one table that hadn’t been securely fastened to its umbrella.

It rose for about thirty feet, and then majestically, and just as slowly, spun back to the ground. Everyone on the pavement and everyone on the quad was frozen, mesmerized. Even the reticent TMEC security guard came out, eyes bulging. And just like that, it fell to the ground, and there were cheers and gasps and concern, and time resumed, and I finally found my legs and stood up, and paced haphazardly around the table.

Would you like to know what I had just been reading?

it was a dream

in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
what,
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her.
This. This. This.

- Lucille Clifton



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