Monday, May 20, 2013

The View From Olympus

A watched pot never boils.
First of all: yes, it does.
Secondly, get off me. Don’t tell me it doesn’t when it does. Don’t pretend to know the future if you can’t lay your thumbprint on the present.
A watched pot never boils.

It is that very same voice I hear over my shoulder, craning and cramping my neck, while I stand next to my stove, hips squared against the counter tops.
It is the voice that tells me not only to get on with it, get on w/ something, but also tells me that thing I am doing, this thing right here, right now, well that’s clearly a mistake.
There’s chopping to be done, dishes to be rinsed, surfaces to be tended.
There’s knives to sharpen, lettuce to wash, bits of the refrigerator could stand a little love while I stand solidly staring into the boiling water. This mighty vaudeville of chemistry takes my breath away. No, that’s not quite right.

The thick, damp air climbing into my kitchen’s stratosphere, into the soft recess of my lungs, makes me lush from the inside out. The wet air is heavy is sits on my skin, my face. I am embraced by it, cloaked by the steam coming off the big pot on my stovetop.

Yes, yes, I see the Mighty Oz parallel. Very clever. Thanks for pointing it out.
But I am not some Kansas Huckster. I am one not of a thousand lying white haired men, suckled by my own propaganda. I am not Phlebas the Phoenecian. I am Phil.

I am staring into the boiling pot, watching as the cosmos rises and swells.
I am breathing. This air. This moment. I have no place to go. I am already here.
I am watching the water evaporate, dissipate, change before my eyes until I must deny its existence, though I know that it still surely does.
I am waiting no longer. For pots to boil. For Moons to charm. For the Sun to complete its sloppy, drunken, ellipse. This is only to say there is a kind of entropy in still water that frightens me.

I think always of that bit of water between Sicily and Italy, the Straits of Messina. The rocks on either shore are those huge craggy pieces of the broken hearts of giants who walked this round earth before. It was those same giants who stirred the Mediterranean until the water forever separated the low flat of Italy and the crazed volcanic mountains of Sicily, forever making each lovesick for the other, each incomplete and each penned in by the boiling water of that Aegean Sea. And in between, on the rocks in the straits, are mermaids.

The mermaids are neither Italian nor Sicilian. Neither God nor Man. Neither Giant or Mortal. Neither Fish nor Fowl. They are simply mermaids, caught in between the worlds that view the surf as either the beginning or the end.

It is the mermaid’s voice that tells you the pot will not boil. It is designed to wreck you on the shore, beach you broken and derelict. Counting off regret, sounding off for a deaf deity.

Or you can stand there. Right there. Breath that moment that is magic, that is electric. That is to say, each moment, each grinding undulation of the boiling pot of water.

Because it will. And it does.

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