It’s the end of my second week here at my mother’s house, on Long Island. I’ve been taking it easy, riding my bike, sitting out in the yard under the big trees, taking Gem for long walks into town. It’s very peaceful here. I felt I needed a break from the crowds of NYC, the pandemic-deniers, or mask-avoidants. I needed to be able to let my guard down a little.

Since arriving, I’ve been doing all the cooking, which is surprisingly enjoyable — to have someone else to cook for, I mean. At home, I cook for myself, but only things that take no longer to cook than to eat. Cooking for my mother is different, a more elaborate affair: grilled salmon and mashed potatoes and glazed carrots, for example. I like to surprise her. Every evening, I call her to the table and she oohs and aahs, which feels wonderful.

My mother and I have been giving each other plenty of space too. In the first few days, we were stubborn and prickly with one another, both used to doing things our own way. But slowly we have adjusted and found compromises. Seeing her idiosyncratic habits makes me more aware of mine. How strange we are, we humans! All our little peculiarities practiced into grooves. Every morning, I come out to the yard and converse with the birds, convinced that my whistling imitations are being returned. Our eccentricities become exaggerated with age.

I’m still writing poems every day (as is she), or almost every day. We’ve been doing it since mid-March. Earlier, I was going through mine looking to send a few to a friend. There are probably ten or fifteen that I like, which doesn’t mean they’re any good. But I do like a few very much. It feels good to be doing something creative. I’ve been looking for an old Tascam 4-track on ebay too. Perhaps, when I get back to New York I’ll try to do some low-fi recordings. I find my Pro-Tools software difficult to use. I want a new toy that is easy and fun to play around with.

Painting by Egon Schiele

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