We make a dwelling in the evening air: A 2021 Thanksgiving post

I only needed two bananas, and the older woman was going to ensure I got none. “I need those!” she yelled in clipped Cuban Spanish. I looked at the display to remind myself that Publix had set up at least 6000 bananas in groups of three, four, six, and just singles. Publix may have announced limits on the purchase of basic Thanksgiving stuffs, but bananas weren’t among them; perhaps the lady ran a black market on tropical fruits. Anyway, I grabbed the bananas I needed and hurried away.

She may still be there. Behold the weirdness of 2021. A year ago, at the cusp of a winter surge in COVID cases that dwarfed what we had seen to that point, my family hosted its quietest Thanksgiving with a sense of palpable anxiety, as if afraid of Florida Highway Patrol officers peeking through the windows. We had a good time regardless. Different circumstances look similar. Cases are on the rise again. Not in Florida — we killed so many people in August and early September we have a few weeks reprieve before the Olympians, remembering who sits in the governor’s chair in Tallahassee, remember to send more plague our way. Inflation is high. Unemployment is low. Americans want to spend money on toys and wine when workers refuse to work on the chickenshit wages they settled on. Peter Jackson will release a hours-long cut of Get Back that shreds the received wisdom (I hope to review it when after starting it on Tuesday I finish it in 2029.).

Raised to believe in a God more benignly detached than my own later religious convictions could stand, I don’t know to whom I should direct my thanks. Today is an explicitly sacral holiday: we don’t thank our parents and relationships, do we? But I do wonderful things daily for which I’m paid well; to call it “work” demeans the custodians who had to shut down our floor’s family bathroom because a homeless person had done unspeakable things in it. My nieces are sharp-eyed athletic children. My godson is inquisitive and has a flair for improvised mutterings. The death of my grandmother in September brought a measure of tranquility to my parents. My friends are a trial when not pains in the ass and nourishing, hence essential. So many write well enough to inspire cheerful envy.

The most approximate clergyman to my sensibilities, Wallace Stevens devoted his last years to a series of marmoreal poems in which an appreciation of birds, snow, rocks, and rivers and roads in winter substituted for a heavenly sublime whose reality he would soon test (he died of cancer in 1955). On days like this I think of Wallace Stevens’ late poem “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour,” specifically its unusually affirmative last tercet:

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.

Take care of each other.

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