Consider them very carefully for you will have only this chance and you don’t want to add those which ought not be included or be forever burdened by those you overlooked or misassumed you wanted to retain. When you are quite certain you are finished, that your list is exactly as you wish it, that all your dislikes and regrets are properly delineated, then walk slowly to the river, pen at the ready, and write them with a precise hand upon the water.
It should be the stories behind the stories that get told. We have to blame the songwriters I suppose, telling only the part of the story they choose, leaving us to sit and wonder, no answers, forthcoming. We all know what happened to Billie Joe and the damned Talahatchee Bridge, but how did Becky Thompson snare the brother and for that matter, why Tupelo? And Mr. Jones, how does he know what’s happening and not know what it is, and why in the hell is he so thin? But Suzanne, she was a real piece of work, always with the river, but ask all you want and she won’t say what river it is and Jesus says, simply, come back later, you’re not a sailor yet.
“You know,” she said with a smile, “that you are going straight to the infernal regions when this is over and done with, no doubt.” “I can’t imagine,” he replied, “that He who is all knowing and all powerful would ever let that happen to me.” “Be serious,” she added, “you know that the nether world is replete with scriveners of doggerel, it is their natural home when they are done here.” “But I’m a mere bard, a weaver of tales,” he cried, “nothing more, nothing less.” “Ah, yes,” she smirked, “but the road to everlasting fire is paved with cliches and euphemisms.”
June 13, 1896, Prague a warm day, old stone schul you stood before the minyon wearing the skullcap repeating ancient words that lay on paper, rehearsed sounding false on a tongue swollen in anxiety. Your tallit, white woven with blue threads hung at your knees fringe fingered, rolled and unrolled, twisted until touched to skin words inscribed, etched into collective memory. Seventeen years later sitting with Buber did words come back and stick on your tongue and later still when you studied under Bentovim, did words take form, shape, dredging up a past kept suppressed walking in desert heat knowing salvation was down a hill, entry forbidden. Lying in your bed in Hoffman’s Sanitorium, the trees of Kierling blooming did you recite Kaddish as endless night engulfed you.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008) and reprinted in Legal Studies Forum Vol. 32, No. 1 (2008)
For Something Different, a new bird photo each day, visit my other blog:
It has a certain heft that says something substantial lies within, waiting to be freed. It glides easily, suggesting an effortlessness you know is a tease, that labor still waits. Still, it does said comfortably, is appealing to the eye, has the deep jade green along its barrel, the knots interwoven top and bottom that say what lies within cannot be easily unraveled. As you draw it across the page you hope that somewhere in Neamh old Robbie will look down on you, smile and share a thought or two, but that you know, is for another day.
It should come as no surprise, for both Buddhism and Hinduism grew out of the same fertile soil. An older Hindu man said, “do not look for your Guru. When you are ready, your Guru will find you.” I knew the Buddhist equivalent, and its corollary, when the student is ready, the teacher disappears. My poetry professor’s yin couldn’t grasp my yang, and I am still waiting patiently for my poetic Guru but despite my growing age, he has yet to appear, but my spirituality seems on firm ground, so it may not really matter. But during my weight, I have found Oatley, Duval, Rose, Kirk, Cullen, and though I have met none, and not a one has found me, the Nirvana they place in bottles at my disposal, that they willingly a ship from Australia, makes me wonder what other possible Guru I might need.
The most interesting thing about visiting websites from foreign news services is that so many offer content in English and how deaths that occur locally seem to invoke the same sadness, horror, belated honor, and that local disasters take precedence over our own disasters not merely because it happened there and not here, but because the losses are greater, the damage far worse, the faces far less white. We hold the world up to the mirror often, but is only our face we see, and those like us standing behind, and we are blind to so much of what goes on around us, because this color blindness is of the sort that disables seeing at all rather than seeing all in monochrome.