31 January 2012

The Mortician: An Essay on Writer's Block

It is raining. This is melting the snow. It took a few good days of rain to finally melt last year's two feet of snow and that came around March. It is January and it snowed two days ago. This snow is gone already. 

I had started mending my friend's parents' lawn today. Maybe this is why I falsely believe it is spring. I put on a worn out shirt and my cowboy-tight, ripped work jeans. It was like theolddays. April. Mucking a golf course east of Wichita before undergrad on the east coast. 

It is muddy here in this Staten Island yard; not as muddy as the trenches of Kellogg, nor as silty but overgrown and reeking of years of rotting peaches from a lone, diminutive, un-pruned tree. Mulberries poke their heads out through weeds like rye. These must be cut by me and cut again and cut again. It rains harder.

Harder. Hard enough to dampen my clothes faster than my body heat can dry them out. I retire to my car. Tilting the seat toward Kill van Kull where a ship passes. I doze with my knees poking through their well-deserved holes. I doze like theolddays only, now, I don't get paid for lounging. Rain means another day I have to wait for a check. This keeps me from dozing. I head for coffee. Find some at a deli. It is terrible. 

I hope some voodoo or wishful thinking will clear the rain. I am paid by the job not the hour now. It kills me to wait here as opposed to theolddays where I would sleep in the heat, my check trickling up like a broken sprinkler-head futilely trying to nurse a new berm. 

I suck the coffee through the hole in the lid; let the windows blur. I go in and let Mrs. Spinelli know I will be back in the morning. Another day the check is delayed.

I drive around for awhile in the false spring. I drive deliberately through puddles and listen intently as the water meets the running boards like a dozen snare drums. There are new suspension parts behind my tires, it is good to get the salt off.  Salt begets rust. Rust begets break. Break begets wreck. Wreck begets repair. Repair begets bills. Bills beget a necessity to work with my body again.

This is a writer's problem.

The mind is no use to anyone so the body must be sold. Turn a spade, watch a child or cat or watch many children and be called a professor. My mind is no use to anyone but the mortician. She will dissect my brain and make my poems expensive realizing they are so rare: like diamonds except with less dictators and more women.

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