During the summer of 2004, my youngest son, then in high school, worked six ten-hour days a week on a nearby farm that grows irises. I made his breakfast at five every morning and then drove him to work before six. This is the sound of One Hand Clapping on the seventh day of August that year, written as soon as I’d returned from our early morning ride:
The big news, the exciting news, is that I made pancakes two times this week, thus ending our pre-dawn scrambled egg marathon. They were heavenly. And making them is an emotional experience, because it takes me back to when my father made pancakes for me when I was seventeen and working at the packing house. As I watch them cook, spatula in hand, it is as if he is standing there beside me. Aren’t those ready to turn? I was just going to turn them. It looks like they’re ready. I’m turning them now. There. See? Perfect. How many would you like? Four? I could eat twice that many. Eight it is, then. Sit down. There’s the paper. Don’t you want some coffee? No. I’m going now. Going? What’s your hurry? I can’t stay. You know that. No. Wait. Don’t leave. I’m going.... Oh, God damn it all.... an eruption of wings, footsteps in the dust, a falling star, light shining on a drop of dew. Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye for now. And good morning to you, dear son. Here are your pancakes. Eat them and rejoice. Eat them, and be aware of the spirit in this room.... Ah, grief. My old friend. You have found me once again. I see you are well. Sit with me, then, and we’ll talk awhile.
One Hand Clapping
In the Forum: understanding that I understand that I don’t understand.