Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 3 • Fall 2002 • Featured Lodestar Writer • Poetry

The Passing of an August Saturday

Michael Lassell

It's a day to sleep late and eat the second-to-last banana, a day to drink coffee and brush your teeth -- but not to shave. That will come later, no doubt.

It's not, for some reason, a day to steal your neighbor's Times, even though he complains about every little thing, including how much noise people make dropping their garbage down the garbage chute. I mean, who knew you were supposed to keep your garbage quiet?

It's a day for loading up a wire cart from the laundry room with dirty clothes and Cheer, but not actually doing the laundry after all, despite your best intentions and all this leisure time. (You're just not busy enough to get anything done.)

It's not a day to buy an ironing board and a new iron, but neither was yesterday, and yesterday you at least made an attempt.

It's a day to wonder if it will rain and if you can live with your two new rugs even though they were free.

A day to go into the office and to leave again in no time.

It's not, however, a day to speak to anyone on the telephone.

However, it's not a day without moment, without incident, a day perhaps for scientific observation, a day, for example, to realize that ladybugs, while they do not all have spots, seem to be universally phototropic and to live in cities as well as the suburbs of your childhood, at least in this city, at least near the waterfront.

It's a day to go to lunch at the Renaissance Diner to order a buffalo burger with blue cheese but to find your mouth saying cantaloupe and bran muffin instead, much to your surprise and even more to your surprising enjoying it.

A day to have two keys made while three men stand around talking about you in Arabic. Or maybe it's Farsi (so excellent a word).

A day to ride the 9th Avenue bus, to become incensed at a fool on a cell phone and to utter the ultimate blasphemy (three words: the middle one -- of two syllables -- neither Jesus nor Christ, nor the name of any other deity, and, although it often has a "g" at the end, today the word is pronounced without it to emphasize anger, masculinity and local roots).

It's a day to finish both puzzles, even Puns and Anagrams.

To nap in a chair.

To wear the orange hat you bought at the U.S. Open even though it doesn't fit your head, to report to the NYPD a vehicle in distress on the West Side Highway (or perhaps it was not in distress); to wave to a drunk at a loud party across the street through the open windows of nearly facing apartments, to compliment a Chinese man's crew cut and tip him five dollars.

It's a day to drink Diet Pepsi, V-8 Juice, water, coffee and Diet Snapple (Cranberry Apple).

It's a day to watch a movie you've been longing to see that is deconstructed (visually, not critically) once every ten minutes, thanks to the lamentable digital service of Time Warner Cable, which can never quite get it right, no matter what it is, even when they're trying, which is, apparently, not very often.

To read the last book of a writer you have grown to love without realizing it was the last of her books, and that you have read them all, and that she will never write another.

A day to realize ladybugs are beetles. And nocturnal. And theoretically tropical, which means there's a lot of wayward beetles in your room.

A day, of course, to remember absent friends and absent friends again.

And to realize that every time you think of yourself in the future tense you are in a quiet and empty place, a New England coastal town or inland village in the old England, perhaps, where you walk alone (someone else's dog, perhaps, loping along beside you for awhile), with a trace of a smile on your face -- or maybe you only think it looks like a smile -- wrapped around a secret knowing that you have come, finally, after many journeys, to have chosen, to have come to prefer the long slow detachment of temperate days in not-unfriendly towns to the hot shock of brief unsettling passions of Paris or Hong Kong, to the blue-lipped frigid all-too-known and knowing hometown of grief.

It's a day to think of things like these. To wonder.

To turn a calendar page or two.

Perhaps to dream.

Or even dare.

Michael Lassell

Michael Lassell's first book, Poems for Lost and Un-lost Boys, was the winner of Amelia's first annual book award; his second, Decade Dance, won a 1990 Lambda Literary Award. He is the author of A Flame for the Touch That Matters, Certain Ecstasies: Bedtime Stories, Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA: Bringing the Broadway Show to Life, and Disney on Broadway, as well as co-editor, with poet Elena Georgiou, of The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave, a finalist in the Library Association of America's annual lesbian and gay book awards as well as a Lammy finalist. He is currently articles director for Metropolitan Home.

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