Stevie and I were probably eight sitting on the front stoop of our flat, he the only one in third grade smaller than me. There was no snow to be seen, none in the sky, none on the frozen and still patchy lawn, just the wind of an always cold December day. Christmas is coming, I said aren’t you excited, with all the gifts. Stevie smiled, they’re always great but maybe this year I’ll finally meet Santa. I laughed, lacking the heart to shatter an infantile dream. Do you buy into the sled and reindeer thing, or does he come more by way of magic. Of course it’s the sled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had some pretty good jet engines. And you think he comes down the chimney I asked. We don’t have one, you know that so he must use a back window, the one where I broke the lock last summer when we were spies. He looked momentarily sad, you don’t have anything like Santa, although you get lots of neat gifts, just not all at once. At least eight, most years more but you’re right we have no Santa, but we have something even better. Better how, what could be better? Each year at Passover, Elijah comes in during our Seder I don’t see him but we have to open the door for him during dinner. Does he bring you anything? He’s not like that, he just comes all old and bearded, and before you can even see him he’s gone again, probably next door at the Goldstein’s or maybe with Larry Finkel, though his mom can’t cook very well. So what’s he do, this Elijah? Not much, I admitted, but he does have a drinking problem.
First Published in Friends & Friendship Vol. 1, The Poet, 2021
It is the eyes that fall in love, the heart that follows like an always faithful shadow, and the mind and reason that are bound to darkness and silence.
That is what I learned in my dream last night, or my recollection of it, for dreams may fade in the sharp light of morning.
But dreams have a potent magic, a holiness really, for there I can resurrect the dead and if the mood is right, bend back the arrow of time, render it dimensionless, all the while I remain constant, but certain with any luck, in someone else’s dream, I may be a child, a young man, or any of a thousand other roles I cannot imagine.
He is four, has been for five months now, but when you ask them how old he will be at his next birthday he doesn’t pause, says, “thirteen,” with a smile that shouts, “yes I know how to count quite well, but sometimes I just choose not to!” He is slowing down, actually, the last week he decided he was seven and decided he would be 27 on his next birthday. I am certain it has nothing at all to do with the presents his classmate’s brother got his Bar Mitzvah, but there is something in the smile of a Jewish four-year-old that reminds even a grandfather who long ago gave up the faith that there is something magical about turning thirteen despite the ever dreaded thank you notes.
The money wasn’t really real then, it came in a box with a board, dice and property deeds, and it was in colors, one for each denomination, (kind of like and Canada and other countries). It was fun having a lot of it until the first time I snuck some out of the house and went off to the variety store, I’d had my eye the magic kit they had tucked in the front window, forgotten, now clearly the only one of its kind. I asked the shopkeeper how much, he said it’s been here so long I can’t remember, so it’s yours for a buck. I gave him a 10, pale yellow he laughed, said that’s foreign so it will be 990 for the magic kit and I can’t make change but I’ll throw in a Mars bar if that’s okay. It was the one and only time that trick worked.
Set aside for a moment
the sheer insanity of it all.
Pretend that this is not
your concern, it is merely
something that you inherited,
never wanted, would gladly
part with on the simplest
of requests you doubt
will ever be forthcoming.
Is this why you treasure it
and cling to it so tightly
or is there still the slightest
but of the magic that once
attracted you, that you thought
you had put aside, knowing
full well you never could.
It is that magical hour of the day when the sun sets the pond’s surface ablaze. The fountain in the middle shoots drops of liquid fire into to sky, only to watch them return to their now fiery home. This magic only lasts a few moments before the water returns to its natural state, and for yet another day, extinguishes the sun.
You will, or may see something today that may surprise you. It may reveal itself in a quiet moment, it may be nothing more than a fleeting thought or image, which you are at first uncertain. There won’t be Magi not even magic, though on reflection, it may seem somehow magical. It will happen openly, but most will miss its occurrence. Only the rarest among us will contemplate its revelations, but for those who look too closely it will be an empty feast.
As a child he had a magical power. He didn’t like to use it, didn’t want others to know he had it, certainly couldn’t share it. He wasn’t certain when it began to fade, but he noticed the power diminished as he grew, as he learned more about the world, and there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop or even slow its diminution. He knew he would miss it, knew he would always remember it even when there was no longer a trace of it. He stopped thinking about it as life engulfed him in its ever-present moments. Every once in a while he would pause and remember it with fondness for innocence is not something you lose willingly.
She’s a real bitch, that one, and there is no telling her anything, at least anything she doesn’t want to hear. And to make matters worse still, she can be so damn alluring, and you know when she turns it on you are hopeless to do anything other than fall hard and fast under her spell. We’ve done this before, too many times to really count, and she will sooner or later, but never when expected, turn on you and leave you wondering why you fell into her trap yet again. But she’s Mother Nature, after all, so what choice did you really have.