January 5, 2024

The more the merrier, says the woman at the next table.

Is this an invitation? What are the limits of this philosophy?

Although it's under thirty out, a man is sitting in the backyard, reading something on his phone. His ears are exposed, yet he keeps his beanie cuffed. Teal, trendy. What are his thoughts on this? Does he welcome the companionship, the shared warmth of conversation, mingling of breathsteam? Or is he overheated, desperate to escape the social furnace? Stripped to the bone, does he shiver or steam? Does the city melt people together, or does it vaporize them entirely? Is there a lid on the system, condensing, distilling? What is lost, & what is concentrated? What does heat smell like? & cold? When do the nosehairs pucker, & when do they soften?

How long have I been like this? How long have I felt like this? Can I blame the slushy warmth of the last few winters, leaving me formless, a muck? Am I but sloshing in my mold, waiting for a really cold day to cast me into shape? What is the difference between casting a mold & a spell? & if the mold won't cast me, if I can't be frozen & solidified from without, how do I bewitch myself into shape? This is what I must become -- the cube in the warm tray, the ice sculpture in the sun, the frosted pillar in the woody sunbeam sweatless, glinting, glittering. Cast there by nothing but magic. What is the difference between a mage, a wizard, a warlock, & a witch? Which of these must I become? or must I become a magician to have magic cast on me? This is the trick of the year, the secret in the scroll unfolding -- find the magic & subject myself to it, become its target, step into its path as it emits from the wand. If I can do this, I can be saved over & over again. Look for the glimmer, the secret shine, the hidden significance in the seemingly mundane. Identify what presents itself in absence. Learn to interpret the signs. Understand what they tell you & seek what they teach you to find. It is difficult, but it is not complex. It is everywhere.