He never wants to leave this place. He never wants to leave wherever he is at that moment. Moving is the hardest thing for him, arriving is easy. She points out that you cannot arrive here without leaving there. He reminds her that something being easy is not the same thing as something being desired. He can and does arrive, but it is easy only by comparison to the greater pain of leaving. She says, I am leaving now, but you can join me. He says I cannot even bear the pain of that thought.
For years all I wanted was a working familial cloaking device. The kind the Romulans had in the early days of Star Fleet. It was easy to feel overwhelmed amid them, teaming together for holidays, reunions. I never could, I never did disappear though she felt my sometime silence oppressive. Now that I am part of that admixture, I have found the device and cannot for the life of me figure out how to turn it off in the presence of my own too small and shrinking family.
Time has no role to play in any of this.
Time isn’t pleased by the prospect,
it prefers to be ever present, ever
escaping, even as it is arriving.
It is quirky that way.
It is constant yet it loves
to give the impression of being variable.
Einstein noted this, and anyone
returning from a long drive is
aware the return is always the shorter trip.
Unless, of course, you suffer
from a bad back, then time
really has the last laugh.
He is four, has been for five months now, but when you ask them how old he will be at his next birthday he doesn’t pause, says, “thirteen,” with a smile that shouts, “yes I know how to count quite well, but sometimes I just choose not to!” He is slowing down, actually, the last week he decided he was seven and decided he would be 27 on his next birthday. I am certain it has nothing at all to do with the presents his classmate’s brother got his Bar Mitzvah, but there is something in the smile of a Jewish four-year-old that reminds even a grandfather who long ago gave up the faith that there is something magical about turning thirteen despite the ever dreaded thank you notes.
It is a precarious balance, really, more and exercise in tottering and hearing than in standing still. Some prefer stasis, others, I included, find it leads inevitably to a loss of energy, to an entropy from which it is difficult to escape. I don’t walk along the edge of the precipice, but I do peer over amazed at what lies below that I hope to never see up close. Is a precarious balance, but one that can be maintained if you just close your eyes and sense what actually lies around and beneath you.
The truly pious will never get to heaven for they don’t know how to sing or dance. Kerouac roams freely like a rogue elephant unable to get a good buzz on but not for want of trying. He thought it would be Edenic, a garden somewhere between Babylon hanging and the lobby of the Royal Hawaiian but it bears a closer resemblance to Grant Park or rural North Dakota where the Coke machines along the roadside are often empty and you are rarely hit by golf balls the size of hailstones.
Recently appeared in Aurora, Down in the Dirt Vol. 167 (2020)