As I age, I more willingly accede to the sirens call of sleep for as night washes over me pulling up its blanket of stars she takes me on a voyage to destinations she will not disclose until our arrival. The journey may be pleasant or the seas of night can be roiling, but her grip is firm. But in her never certain world age can slough off, fall away until my body and its increasing frailties and limitations slip away and my youth is no longer a memory, but on this night or that, it is my new if transient reality. But I dare not cling to it, for the sun will intercede again and drag me back to the body I so willingly escape each night.
Life ought be little more than arrhythmic motion, a path we only want to straighten, to smooth, its natural, necessary twists and bumps somehow, for we always see them as impediments not moments of joyous indecision where there are no wrong choices for each choice unfolds a new path never trodden, never imagined or foreseen.
A bird flies to where it needs to be, but for most that are not migrating, that place isn’t known until arrival and even then, save for nesting, it is the right place only for a day, a week, a month or perhaps only a moment, for a bird knows only this moment and this until there are no more moments.
I stooped and spoke to a stone, asking the question. I was here before you arrived and I will be her long after you leave. I held the sand in my hand warm from the sun, asking the question. I came after your arrived and I will leave long before you are gone. I held the winter wind on the tip of a finger, asking the question. I am not here now and I have never been here. I touched the waters to my lips, asking the question. I was above you when you came and I will be below you when you go. I saw the flames dance before me, asking the question. You were ashes once and you shall be ashes again. I stood mired in the clay clinging to my legs, asking the question. It is of me you were formed and it is to me you will return. I sat at the foot of God blinding light, asking the question. You cried to me at birth and you will cry to me at death.
You imagine tomorrow will arrive without warning or notice, and even though you are skeptical, you accept the possibility, and if it doesn’t arrive what are the odds you will miss it? If, as expected, it arrives, what the hell, it was supposed to do that so nothing is odd about it, and if not, well you never really expected it to, it’s the blessing of a shortening memory, so you win either way. And so you go on with today, and when not if, tomorrow comes you’ll be there since you will recall your doubt and you’ll assume it is nothing more than the fall of the next domino in the perpetual parade.
The trees seem to know that we are leaving, why else would they shed their leaves so early, the only tears they are allowed to cry. It cannot be a blight, or so we think it, just our departure that has caused this premature pining for a winter we all know will arrive too soon any arrival being that. We rake them gently, lift them into bags positioned under their once homes, waiting for the truck to move our lives, anther to take them away.
It is her time and she knows she is ready for this moment, has been for eons, knows it will come again but none here will remember this day. She stares at them, but they ignore her, and she grows angry, her visage reddens as she slowly retreats, know the interloper will move along, hoping that her return later will provoke the sort of interest she deserves, the sort she know she should command. She teased them weeks ago, but this moment must surpass that, and will, if only the clouds play along with her. She knows clouds are fickle, but even mother nature usually concedes if only begrudgingly, and tonight should be one of those occasions. She will not see them gather, but her arrival will be heard in the collective sigh and the memories she knows they will carry into their eternity.
“Trains are present,” she said,” and somewhat the buses, but airplanes are mostly absent.” I understand what she meant, and didn’t need her to cover hands over her ears to cement the point. On a train, most sit back, some with ear buds but many simply stare out the window at towns and villages and fields flowing by, willing to share bits of their lives, real or imagined. On a train there is only truth, and what is said is real, if only within the confines of the car. On a plane the people hide inside headphones, bend their headrests around their ears, as if to demark some personal space inside which the person in the adjacent seat dare not enter, even with words. “Trains,” she said, “are as much about the journey as the destination, while planes are an abyss between the points of departure and arrival, crossed with the fear you could fall into the pit of another’s life and never again emerge.” I agree with her as we pull into a station and she rises to disembark.