My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie. He says that he believes a person can love someone and still be able to murder that person. I say, No, that's not love. That's attachment. Michael says, No, that's love. You can love someone, then come to a day when you're forced to think "it's him or me" think "me" and kill him. I say, Then it's not love anymore. Michael says, It was love up to then though. I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word. Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist even in the murderous heart. I say that what he might mean by love is desire. Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what is it? We're walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded night—and I hear my voice repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action, I used to say to him. Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to look at someone you want to eat and not eat them. Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby. Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are doomed to live in purgatory. Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight. I can't drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I've just bought— again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck the stuff from the hole the flip top made. What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says. But what I think he's saying is "You are too strict. You are a nun." Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think these things of me even if he's not thinking them? Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer and colder. Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen, we both know the winter has only begun.
What the Angels Left
At first, the scissors seemed perfectly harmless. They lay on the kitchen table in the blue light. Then I began to notice them all over the house, at night in the pantry, or filling up bowls in the cellar where there should have been apples. They appeared under rugs, lumpy places where one would usually settle before the fire, or suddenly shining in the sink at the bottom of soupy water. Once, I found a pair in the garden, stuck in turned dirt among the new bulbs, and one night, under my pillow, I felt something like a cool long tooth and pulled them out to lie next to me in the dark. Soon after that I began to collect them, filling boxes, old shopping bags, every suitcase I owned. I grew slightly uncomfortable when company came. What if someone noticed them when looking for forks or replacing dried dishes? I longed to throw them out, but how could I get rid of something that felt oddly like grace? It occurred to me finally that I was meant to use them, and I resisted a growing compulsion to cut my hair, although in moments of great distraction, I thought it was my eyes they wanted, or my soft belly —exhausted, in winter, I laid them out on the lawn. The snow fell quite as usual, without any apparent hesitation or discomfort. In spring, as expected, they were gone. In their place, a slight metallic smell, and the dear muddy earth.