Conjunctions:49 A Writers’ Aviary

Cardinal in a Forsythia
Lost: Sister’s wallet. Her guitar. Her boyfriend. Eyeglasses. Smoking jacket. Copy of Flip Your Wig by Hüsker Dü. Joy about composing these lines. Joy about composing any lines. Joy about reading anything at all. Taste for bourbon. Copies of everything Vargas Llosa ever wrote. And Gombrowicz. Ability to remember passages of poetry and lines from books. Sense of outrage. Names of some people kissed. Addresses of many people loved. Ability to be really rude. Unobstructed view from deck. Morning glories. Sparrows who used to nest in the birdhouse on the side of the shed. Belief in the redemptive power of a transcendental and omnipotent agency. Belief in political change. Several bicycles, some of them stolen. Virginity. First true love. Second true love. Third true love. Faith in true love. Cheap synthesizer bought in New York City and used in band in college. Sid and Nancy T-shirt. Ability to be mad about my childhood. Field recordings of people singing love songs in Ecuador. Certain words. Word nemesis. Greek and Latinate words that used to seem glamorous. Tolerance for abstraction. Tolerance for solitude. Paperwork. L. L. Bean table bought when there was no money for any other table and kept for ten years. Sister. Innumerable pets. Dial phones. Subway tokens. Strip clubs in Times Square. Peas from a can. Evening News. Forty-fives. LPs. Prerecorded cassettes. Whipped cream from a tub. Tortellini. The IBM Selectric II with correcting key. Sweet Tarts. Tom Seaver. Jerry Koosman. Another pair of eyeglasses. A lot of weight. Certain causes, e.g., hunger strikers at Long Kesh; the Sandinistas; the Tibetans; the Cambodians; the East Timorese. Faith, calm, serenity, self-respect, innocence, anything left to lose. 
      Found: Redemptive power of a transcendental and omnipotent agency. A sense of insignificance. A violent distaste for the political process. The community of other human beings. Good luck. Massive amounts of good luck. Memories: most of them wrong, or massaged into a shape that flatters. An indifference to my personal suffering in certain circumstances. Willingness to change. A desire to listen to the stories of others. Twenty dollars. Ten dollars. Fifty dollars. Sunglasses. Ten pounds. The cellular telephone. The laptop computer. The Internet. Surveillance cameras on street corners. Compact discs. DVDs. MP3 players. Blogs. Vlogs. Things to look forward to. My singing voice. Tenacity. Saggy flesh. Memories of sister laughing, memories of sister dancing; memories of other deceased people, Lucy Grealy, e.g., memories that start to crowd out things happening concurrently. A bad knee. A bad back. A bad ankle. Tonsillitis. Paperwork. Nieces and nephews! Anglo-Saxon words like guttersnape, giddyhead, cobblestone, nonesuch, fribble, and sockdolager. A taste for the Beats. A taste for beets, olives, capers, mustard, and some varieties of cheese. Violin lessons. Many causes, like the hunger strikers at Long Kesh; the Sandinistas; the Tibetans; the Cambodians; the East Timorese; the rights of gay persons to marry; the rights of animals not to be consumed by humans simply because humans think they’re smarter; faith, calm, serenity, self-respect, innocence, more things to lose. A cardinal on the deck. A cardinal on the lawn. A cardinal under the bird feeder. A cardinal and his mate. A cardinal and her mate. A cardinal and a red-winged blackbird. A cardinal and a chickadee. A cardinal and a brace of mourning doves. A cardinal and a pigeon. Two cardinals on different branches of a locust tree. Female above, male below. Cardinals alighting. Cardinals startling up. Cardinals foraging. Cardinals singing. Cardinals and a blue jay driving them off. A cardinal in a forsythia, in April, when the bush is in bloom, and he is attempting to attract the opposite number. A cardinal in a forsythia, certain of the bright perfection of his plumage against a yellow backdrop. Why didn’t I stop to notice?

Rick Moody is the author of three collections of stories, a memoir, a volume of essays on music, and six novels, including Hotels of North America. With Darcey Steinke, he edited Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited (both Little, Brown).