My life has been
an essential tremor, this shaking in my right hand I can’t control.
It passes through me
like an inner wind or one-thousand-volt alternating current.
No one knows
what causes it. I inherited it from my father, who by the end
could barely hold
a cup of coffee without it sloshing over. I can barely hold a pen.
My handwriting resembles
a seismogram of Popocatépetl erupting. The tremor worsens when I use
my hand. The doctors say
the shaking may spread to legs or head until I’m one of those pop-culture
mad Alfred E. Neuman, or Mr. Bean—who can’t stop nodding
in the rear windows
of cars going 90 mph on Los Angeles’s freeways, their four-level
I’ve learned to shave with my left hand. This morning I woke from a dream
in which I was driving
a road I had never been on before. It wound past green velvety mountains
on one side
and on the other followed a shoreline with many bays and inlets. Golden
everywhere, on the ocean and on the mountains that descended
to the ocean.
Ahead the road rose sharply up a hill that I couldn’t see over.
and realized too late that the road stopped at the top
without any yellow
caution signs. I found myself falling in my car down a cliff.
Mountains and ocean
blurred. World rushed past me, a blue-green-golden smear.
As I fell, I thought
that my life would last only a few more seconds. As I fell,
a voice outside myself
asked if I regretted never having purchased a motorcycle. I never
hit the bottom
of that cliff. I woke up and remembered thinking that I regretted
that I was happy for the first time in my life as I traveled that road
I had never been on
before. I woke next to a woman I love, whose easy breathing was
one third snoring,
one third purring, one third the chortling of mourning doves. I got up
to write down my dream
and found that it had snowed overnight. An inch of snow covered
the yellow buds
of daffodils. But I had checked the forecast and knew it would melt.
The shivering daffodils
will open into double blossoms on schedule, the dirt keep dreaming
its millions of flowers.
For the long seconds of the rest of my life, I’ll keep accelerating—according
to the laws of physics—
at a rate proportional to the square of elapsed time until I reach
my terminal velocity
and, like all falling bodies, come to rest in the dirt from which daffodils erupt
and to which they too shall soon return.