When it is Dark Enough You Will See the Stars

Starry Night by Van GoghToday I awoke to the sound of a dog breathing in my ear and a toilet flushing. The first words I heard were “are you up?” Those are the first words I hear each morning Monday through Friday. The second are always “here’s your coffee” as John places a cup within easy reach. Darcy puts her muzzle close to my nose and the smell of dog breath mingles with the aroma of hazelnut coffee. I still haven’t opened my eyes because as soon as I do the remnants of my dreams will scatter. Today I woke up with faint memories of dancing in a full skirt and tweezing one eyebrow. All the other images had gone where algebra went so I gave up and opened my eyes. 

John was next to me sipping his own coffee. “These sheets smell good” he said.

“We could be in a commercial for fabric softener” I replied. I do like to wake up to the smell of sheets washed with Snuggles fabric softener. I’d changed the sheets last night. They did smell terrific. “Do we have time for a hot tub this morning?”

He said we did so we took our coffee outside and shivered until we were submerged in the 104 degree water. We watched the sky turn pink and orange. We watched Arlo and Darcy chase each other around the yard, pausing occasionally to peer over the side of the tub – never too close to the edge. John was complaining about a presentation he’d made yesterday that wasn’t well received. “Turn your frown upside down.” I repeated the phrase with accompanying hand and facial gestures until he smiled. I can always make him smile. I am the optimist, the Pollyanna, the one who would look at a water hazard on a golf course and only see the cute ducks.

 The branches of the surrounding trees gestured against the brightening sky but I could still see a few stars. For some reason I thought of Van Gogh’s Starry Nights. Those huge cartoon stars in the blue-purple sky. Then I thought of the darkness that those beautiful paintings were born in. How we have to take our writing into the dark for a time before it is ready. Of course, some of my writing has been in the dark too long. So long it feels like it was written by someone else.

For no particular reason these lines are begging to be included in this meandering post. They are the words of Stanley Kunitz – one of my favorite poets.

 In a murderous time
   the heart breaks and breaks
      and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go
   through dark and deeper dark
      and not to turn.

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