The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A meditation on morning and other beginnings

Rachael Conlin Levy

Universe inside my morning. Fourth Cup.

A good start to the day begins with the crack of coffee bean against stone and the whistle of a tea kettle signaling that the coffee is ready. Only then do I push myself up, my frozen shoulder aching from the night’s inactivity, and join one of my sons in the kitchen. Mornings used to demand much: babies need to be breastfed, children needed oatmeal, lunches had to be made as the house vibrated with the energy it took to get out the door and off to work, to school, and the radio squawked the day’s news. But with time, the family became self-sufficient and my obligations lessened so that, this summer, the morning begins in relative solitude and silence, and the day begins with a full pot of coffee brewed by a child. I pick a cup from one of four identical mugs that remain after 23 years of marriage, our in the hot liquid, which I lighten with cream to the color of dead grass. And I’m grateful.

The last of the wedding china, Denby circa 1995.

Although mornings top my list of  beginnings, I also like babies, blank pages and the blush of blue in a gray sky. Sharpened pencils. School starts. Racing lines, and the bright red blood that begins the menstrual cycle. First kiss. First fuck. And the flare of a match as it ignites. The hiss and sigh of a bottle of beer as I pry off the cap. The pop of champagne. And the sweet explosion of a raspberry crushed between the roof of my mouth and tongue. Baked brownies. Butterflies in the stomach. And the moment the car window is lowered to answer the cop standing outside. Rough drafts. Rain. Baptisms. The robin’s song in the darkness before dawn, which is, I guess, a beginning wrapped inside an ending. And as I write I admit that most beginnings begin that way. At times, the obvious astounds me with its profoundness, followed by astonishment of my own obtuseness. No matter. Here is my brain, thinking, and I digress.

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