I have coffee, the sun is not high yet but is gleaming against the yellow buds of a few weeds in the backyard. I’ve counted the mourning doves on the back wall, surprised that there are seven, all with heads tucked into backs. The desert temperatures are still in the 90s in the afternoon, but mornings are in the 60s now. Fall is on its way. The sky is a cloudless, powder blue.
There’s nothing more lonely, I think, than an empty blue sky.
It seems to me we’re not encouraged to imagine anymore. I was born in 1959 and remember our first television set. We had three channels. There was no such thing as cable. Silver antennas, like fork tines bent in various directions, sprouted upon roofs everywhere. And on December 7th the networks didn’t play movie reels of Pearl Harbor. Quietly, we used our imaginations, which was good enough.
13 years ago, four airliners took off in the east and headed west. Once securely hijacked, all four turned east toward their assigned targets. Today, as I do every morning, I turn on cable news to ensure the world’s still reasonably intact before turning the television off completely. To my surprise, every cable news channel is playing their pat “remember when” broadcasts, as they do each year now, to commemorate the 9/11 tragedies. One is airing its entire daily broadcast from 9/11/2001.
Are we no longer capable of imagination? I don’t need these broadcasts to remind me of where I was or what I saw. I don’t require prompting. Neither did my grandparents each year on December 7th. My imagination is distinct enough, wide and clear. Just like the sun, higher now over the Sonoran Desert.
12/7, 9/11, simple dates. A line of Japanese poetry rests at the peripheral edge of my memory. The poet, Takamura Kotaro, was a sculptor as well, and wanted to write poetry in a natural vernacular versus the precision, beauty and form expected of Japanese poetry at the beginning of the 20th century. Kotaro carved at the 100-plus lines he’d written, getting the poem down to just nine and calling it “The Journey.” For me, his opening couplet defines precisely why imagination ought to be important. There is no future, it tells us, and implies many other things. But to receive the poet’s implied message, one requires a sense of imagination.
I’m sipping the last of my coffee on the porch now. Watching the empty blue sky, I hope for monsoon clouds and rain. No road leads the way, Kotaro writes in “The Journey.” The road follows behind. After tossing half a cup of coffee across the yard, five of the doves remain. This day, like yesterday, is about to begin.