05 December 2013


I encountered my favorite smell again today.  I call it a smell because I can’t think of a better word for it, but it’s something you rather breathe than sniff; you feel it not in your nostrils but way back behind your nose, at the top of your throat, in the center of your head.  It’s wet, it’s rich, it’s slightly sweet and it’s somehow electric.  Maybe like some kind of fresh and elemental cigar.  Yes, there is a burnt quality to it, but it’s more charged than charred.  Again, electric.  Exhilarating.  Heady mystery, incomprehensible fullness.  Humid and electric and faintly sweet like the world just barely got done being made.

I found it while I ran along the Charles in fog so thick I had to stop twice to wipe it off my glasses.  A hint, a note, as I passed through the densest sliver of woods.  This smell is like a fairy godmother, cropping up from time to time in my life when I least expect it.  I remember it from when I was small and my mom put a humidifier in my room; from the foggiest day I ever experienced on my mission in Ciudad Evita; and most strongly from the tunnels of the LĂ­nea A in the Buenos Aires subway.  Maybe it crops up when I most need a confirmation of the world’s lush fathomlessness.  To be surprised by something familiar.

04 December 2013


In the fall, birds would hop and flit and perch on the branches not five feet in front of my face.  Bodies black, sprayed with white stars.  The interaction of sun and wing.  They gobbled the bright orange berries among the tree’s thinning, yellowing leaves.  They flashed and glinted and without warning launched themselves effortlessly, wings spread, out of the field of vision framed by my window.

The light goes early now.  Midday feels like afternoon; afternoon feels like dusk.  Night falls by five.  This morning two squirrels slalomed my tree’s bare branches, one black, one gray.  A solitary bird came by later, his feathers darker than I remembered, his beak half-dipped in ink.