Even long after he had left his childhood behind, or such of it as he had actually had, he could still stare up into the night sky, at ceiling of stars with more than a little awe.
And even though he had left childhood behind, no one had yet answered the one question his parents ducked time and time again, one so simple a child knew its answer, but asked anyway, for validation or irritation.
If God created the heavens why did He or She arrange the stars so that people could see in their order other people, lesser gods and all manner of animals?
God sits at his easel, brush in hand and thinks about the butterfly alighting on the oak. This man would rather paint the nightmare of hell, but he has been cast out and his memory has grown dim. He remembers being a small child amused by the worm peering from soil in a fresh rain and how when he split it, both halves would slither away in opposite directions. Now he rocks in the chair and watches night fall and shatter on the winter ground.
First Appeared in Medicinal Purposes: A Literary Review, Vol. 1, No. 6, Spring 1997.
Reality is clearly something to be avoided to be dressed up in tattery, tied in ribbons, perfumed, yet its fetid stench is always lurking in the background waiting to pierce your nostrils in an incautious moment until you retch and bring up the bile that marks the darker moments of your life, the kind that lingers in the throat which no chocolate can erase. Reality is often ugly, so we ignore it or hide it behind masks, or offer it willingly to others, a gift in surfeit. It sneaks up on you, and sets its hook periodically, and thrashes you at will, the barb tears through new flesh, setting itself deeper, intractable. You and I are dying, as I write, as you read, an ugly thought particularly lying in bed staring into darkness, no motion or sound from your spouse, mate, paramour, friend, significant other or teddy bear, where God is too busy to respond at the moment and sleep is perched in the bleachers, held back by the usher for want of a ticket stub, content to watch the game from afar. I cast ink to paper, an offer of reality as though the divorce from the words will erase the little pains and anguishes of our ever distancing marriage, while holding vainly onto the warm and sweet, the far side of the Mobius of reality (the skunk is at once ugly and soft and caring). We write of pain, of ugliness, of anger at terrible lengths, or weave tapestries of words to cover the flawed, stained walls of our minds, like so many happy endings, requisite in the script. Basho knew only too well that truth of beauty should be captured in few syllables.
First Appeared in Chaminade Literary Review, Vols. 16-17, Fall 1995.
So if I have it right, God managed to come up with ten plagues for Moses to visit on Pharaoh, although at the time Moses probably could not understand why it was ten, since God was boundlessly creative, or so He told Moses.
Maybe it dawned on Moses when wandering in the desert that ten was a convenient number, after all, he only gave Moses ten commandments, but I doubt he told Moses they were a starter set and the other 603 would come along in due course, but Moses wouldn’t take the blame for them, he’d be written out of the story in Book Two.
It isn’t my first Christmas although almost so, that part of me hidden for half a century, its twisted discovery filling a hole that I never knew existed, yet always knew.
This is the strangest Christmas, a time of gathering, now in isolation, only pixels and prayers on a too flat screen, and it is hard, in times of want and suffering, to recall why we celebrate this day.
A child was born, and now countless others will be, and it is only the children that recall his message, and truly understand peace.