The Charm of 5:30
It’s too nice a day to read a novel set in England.
We’re within inches of the perfect distance from the sun,
the sky is blueberries and cream,
and the wind is as warm as air from a tire.
Even the headstones in the graveyard
seem to stand up and say “Hello! My name is...”
It’s enough to be sitting here on my porch,
thinking about Kermit Roosevelt,
following the course of an ant,
or walking out into the yard with a cordless phone
to find out she is going to be there tonight.
On a day like today, what looks like bad news in the distance
turns out to be something on my contact, carports and
white courtesy phones are spontaneously reappreciated
and random “okay”s ring through the backyards.
This morning I discovered the red tints in cola
when I held a glass of it up to the light
and found an expensive flashlight in the pocket of a winter coat
I was packing away for summer.
It all reminds me of that moment when you take off your
sunglasses after a long drive and realize it’s earlier
and lighter out than you had accounted for.
You know what I’m talking about,
and that’s the kind of fellowship that’s taking place in town, out in
the public spaces. You won’t overhear anyone using the words
“dramaturgy” or “state inspection” today. We’re too busy getting along.
It occurs to me that the laws are in the regions and the regions are
in the laws, and it feels good to say this, something that I’m almost
sure is true, outside under the sun.
Then to say it again, around friends, in the resonant voice of a
nineteenth-century senator, just for a lark.
There’s a shy looking fellow on the courthouse steps, holding up
a placard that says “But, I kinda liked Clinton.” His head turns slowly
as a beautiful girl walks by, holding a refrigerated bottle up against
her flushed cheek.
She smiles at me and I allow myself to imagine her walking into
town to buy lotion at a brick pharmacy.
When she gets home she’ll apply it with great lingering care
before moving into her parlor to play 78 records and drink gin-and-tonics
beside her homemade altar to James Madison.
In a town of this size, it’s certainly possible that I’ll be invited over
In fact I’ll bet you something.
Somewhere in the future I am remembering today. I’ll bet you
I’m remembering how I walked into the park at five thirty,
my favorite time of day, and how I found two cold pitchers
of just poured beer, sitting there on the bench.
I am remembering how my friend Chip showed up
with a catcher’s mask hanging from his belt and how I said
great to see you, sit down, have a beer, how are you,
and how he turned to me with the sunset reflecting off his
contacts and said, wonderful, how are you.
From Actual Air (Drag City, 2003) by David Berman Copyright © 2003 by David Berman. Used with the permission of Cassie Berman and Drag City.