In the dark heart of night time is suddenly frozen, the clock’s hands stalactites and stalagmites, unyielding denying the approach of morning, leaving the sun imprisoned under the watchful gaze of its celestial wardens.
It is then you appear, call out to me, beg me be silent, not asking the lifetime of questions I have accreted, providing my own hopes and imagination for answers, but you have faces, not those of that weekend but of other days, she younger, in college, he in a college yearbook at a school he never attended save as part of the ROTC contingent of the Air Force.
I bid you farewell, finally, and time again takes motion and morning welcomes the sun.
Acuity is such a strange word, sharp on the tongue and in meaning, but also a mark of what once was, what will never be again, replaced perhaps by a visual vacuity, comfortable word, no sharp edges, vague images floating behind a gauze seeping slowly into a scrim, knowing the stage will soon enough go dark, despite the ever brighter lighting. But replaced perhaps by ever greater auditory acuity, all edges, cutting sounds unmuted, fine shades of gradation, hearing clearly what you will soon stumble over yet again.
An elk stands at the edge of a placid mountain lake and sees only the clouds of an approaching winter. A black bear leans over the mirrored surface of the lake and sees only the fish that will soon be his repast. The young man draped in saffron robes looks calmly into the water and sees a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors. I look carefully into the water looking for an answer to a question always lurking out of reach and see only my ever thinning hair.
FirstAppeared in Green’s Magazine (Canada), Vol. 29, No.1, Autumn 2000.
This morning the sky is a painting by Magritte as it is most days, no title Ceci n’est pas un ciel.
The birds rise from the wetland as Escher would imagine them, the small wetland once a place that might be painted by Monet on a day when he cared nothing for water lillies, but now a jungle of Gauguin.
We wait for the return of the flocks as the sun makes its retreat and imagine again a blazing sky over Arles.
The morning was indistinguishable from so many others. Lorenz was taking his morning walk around the pond or lake, it was of that intermediate size that could be either or neither, when in a break with his habit, he sat down on one of the four benches, and stared out over the water. He hadn’t seen the usual egrets or herons or ibis, which did strike him as a bit odd since they were as regular in attendance as he was. As he pondered their absence he was startled by what felt like a tickling on his arm. He looked down to find a Painted Lady butterfly perched on his forearm sitting placidly. He stared at what seemed to be the eyes on its wing staring at him. Neither moved, he for fear of dislodging his visitor, the butterfly for its own, undisclosed, unfathomable reasons. This mutual staring continued until time lost its shape, its defintion, and puddled at his feet, no longer mattering at all. But evenutally a breeze came up and it lifted from his arm, flitted about as if in some farewell and was off. He had no idea that moments later the tsunami warning sirens began up and down Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.
Every morning we are able, we go out on the lanai and have our fruit bowls then our cappuccinos with toast from her homemade sourdough whole wheat bread, and watch countless birds fly out of the wetland that abuts our yard. The cat is always awaiting our arrival, usually sleeping on one of our oak rockers. She will look up at us, yawn and when we nod, amble over to her “cat condo” where she knows her morning treats will appear. She will announce her thanks and slide back to the rocker for her morning nap, knowing she can watch the birds arrive later when she is far more rested for she reminds us that cats are nocturnal.
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.
I have to compliment you, after all you ignored me for four years in high school, condemned me to the outcasts, the geeks, the losers, the barely tolerated and then only when the Headmaster was watching.
I didn’t go to your parties, no one without an invitation ever dared, was left to the clubs no one wanted to join, but I have to say I was truly surprised, shocked almost when your letter came, reminding me of our great years of friendship, our camaraderie then, but regrettably I must decline to contribute to our class fund.
In my dreams I wandered the alleys of Lisbon searching for a familiar face, and many came close, but no man stopped me and asked if I was, by chance his son, for he dreamed I was what a son of his would look like.
Now I have no need to wander for I know he is in a military cemetery in Burlington, New Jersey, and I doubt he had any idea in life he had another son, or a daughter in Italy, for weekends were quickly passed when you had to be back at the base by midnight on Sunday.