My Bishkek Fridge

fridge   My poet friend Jill Divine is creating a project she calls Ice. Box. Vignettes. When she wrote me about it, this is what I sent her.

I heard someone once say that nothing telegraphs loneliness more than an empty fridge door. I heard that on NPR, and I remember looking up from what I was doing and staring at my radio like Buddha was in there talking directly to me. I was packing for Bishkek then, packing for living a year away from my cozy home and covey of friends and life I knew the rhythms and contours of. As I thought about my upcoming life in Kyrgyzstan, I imagined there would be some loneliness, and who needs to encourage that quicksand with a naked fridge door? So I scrawled on my Packing List: stuff for fridge. And in one of my suitcases I put poems and Monopoly money and New Yorker cartoons. I put goofy and inscrutable playing cards I like to plunder out of weird board games at the Goodwill. I brought a drawing made by my 8-year-old niece Eva Mae. When I got here I made my unpacking a kind of ritual. I was all swimmy in the head with jet lag and dislocation, and the unpacking felt like I was drunk at a religious ceremony. Out came the magnets, out came the pieces of paper that I lovingly affixed to the front of my fridge. With those little bits of paper like prayer flags I made a shrine. And in the mornings when I am in what Rilke calls “the silver heaven between dream and day” I go to the fridge to get milk for my coffee ritual, and there it all is on the fridge door, humming soft little songs to keep me safe and calm and surrounded by love that lives elsewhere.

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