Manna, Diners and the Nick of Time
Joplin on the stereo.
Coffee to the side.
At the counter, they talk of fish and childhoods.
The tables are empty.
Blues guitars fill the air
and you are tempted to sway,
to lose yourself in the music,
It is hard this morning.
Hard to start. Hard to breathe and hard
to begin. Darkness, like sludge,
fills your lungs and fills your mind
and you are nearly overwhelmed.
Even the music is your enemy,
penetrating too deep, too loud. a threat
to swallow you and beat you into the ground.
But you are old and tough.
A veteran of the dark wars.
Too dumb to surrender, too wrapped up in the battle
you begin to write, each work
another bar in the prison that will,
for a day at least,
keep the demons at bay, captured
by careful punctuation and word magic,
A thing stronger than you,
white magic, rarely beautiful, peculiarly powerful,
you weave them even when you do not feel them,
you grow stronger, less from effort than allowing,
of bearing your breast to the demons and God alike
and trusting God’s breath to come faster
and stronger, and always, only,
in the nick of time.
About this poem.
Manna, for those of you who are not Christian, or are long lapsed, is the bread-like substance that God gave the Jews each day after they had left their slavery in Egypt. They could not save it, for it would rot. They had to trust that each day he would give them just enough. And he did.
That is the way I have led my life the past decade or so. Dark days or bright days, even when I am not feeling it days, I have to trust that I will get enough inspiration (literally “God’s breath”) to get through.
And when I am not feeling it? I do it anyway.
It’s amazing how that works. In the doing it anyway, in the trusting that by doing and living and creating, good happens. Energy comes. Depression is pushed back. Joy sneaks in. And from the little death of each morning, life creeps in. Always in the nick of time.
PS – The picture has nothing to do with Manna or diners, but it reminded me of what my day feels like when I wake up each morning. Dark. Regimented. Lacking life. But if I put away how it looks and feels in the morning, also full of potential. The picture was taken near my home in West Pawlet, Vermont.