Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Seeing, the Thrill

We got electricity yesterday at 5 pm. As far as I could tell, no workers even looked at our line after the storm on Sept. 14 until this last Sunday afternoon, a week after the storm, and then the trucks came back yesterday with three new transformers and one new utility pole. A couple of hours after they started working, a lamp came on in my house. Now the refrigerator is starting to get cool.

I've read that it takes seven days to change a habit, and I can tell you that after nine days, I no longer reach for the light switch when I enter a room.

My level of satisfaction with ordinary things is way up. Just being able to go home after dinner and read the newspaper is cause for rejoicing. And then I read this poem, and it seemed to sum up some of my relief. Also it's about a device that you can't use unless you have electricity...

Rock Polisher, by Chris Forhan

Your father bought it, brought it
to the basement utility closet, waited
while a test pebble tumbled in it.
One week: he'd willed it to brilliance.
The grit kit's yours now, the silicon
carbide pack. Split it, have at it.
Jasper, agate, amethyst crystal,
it'll churn to a luster. Listen
to small rocks grind the big one down.
Stones in the driveway, pry them up, why not,
they'll fit, glass knobs on your mother's
bathroom cabinet, your baseball
and mitt, polish them, polish that
zero-win Peewee League season.
The thing your sister said and then
took back, you still have it, polish it,
polish the snowless Christmas
when all you'd hoped for was snow.
It's way past lights out now; you're crouched
above the barrel, feeding it
your school shoes, your haircut
in eighth grade--flat bangs
to the bridge of your nose--the moment
that girl on the track team touched
your wrist, then kept her fingers there,
the way you loved dumbly
and do. If the sun's up, it's nothing,
you're polishing, you're pouring in
the ocean rolling rocks into cobbles
too slowly, and the sky, it was
Mozart's, was Christ's sky,
no matter, dismantle it, drop it
in the tumbler, and you, too, get in there
with your dad and your mom and the cat,
one by one, the whole family,
and God's mercy, perfect at last.

I think it's that line "if the sun's up, it's nothing" that really got to me, when I first read this poem in dim light. Now that we can have it every day, at least for a while, I'm sure that the thrill of having electricity will wear off. But for a while, everything is better. We're all feeling the thrill in the everyday. Actually, I should say we're seeing it; we're no longer limited to feeling around in the dark.

1 comment:

bookchronicle said...

Even though we've had the lights back for a couple of days, I still come home at evening and scrounge a bit for the box of matches.