I was born the same day, in a much later year as Thornton Wilder, a fact that had no impact at all on my life, since I discovered our common birthday long after my life’s path was half tread.
I read him in my youth, and must admit I can recall nothing of what I read, which I attribute to all that I have read since, and not as any criticism of Wilder’s writing, for his talent is beyond question.
But what was disconcerting was to learn that Nick Hornby was born five years to the day after me and has penned works that I love but cannot hope to equal despite my having lived longer if not more fully than he has.
In my dream, the world was at peace, and I was riding across Kansas on a unicycle, towing my car, packed to the windows, my dog walking alongside urging me to speed up because she wanted to visit South Dakota. I am due for a tricycle, I remind the dog, “the grave more likely,” she responds with a sneer that teeters between love and spite, always precariously balanced, as is her food bowl on the roof of the car. I could tell it was a dream which is not often easy from its midst, by the utter lack of churches, synagogues and mosques, none to be seen and the Great Blue Heron nesting in a scrub pine on the shreds of Holy Books.
Take one part Grand Marnier, one Frangelico, a short cup of coffee, whipped cream only if you wish, curl on the sofa with your life’s greatest love and your first real, truly your first Christmas Eve makes you wonder why you waited so long.
First published in The Poet: Christmas (2020 United Kingdom)
It is the eyes that fall in love, the heart that follows like an always faithful shadow, and the mind and reason that are bound to darkness and silence.
That is what I learned in my dream last night, or my recollection of it, for dreams may fade in the sharp light of morning.
But dreams have a potent magic, a holiness really, for there I can resurrect the dead and if the mood is right, bend back the arrow of time, render it dimensionless, all the while I remain constant, but certain with any luck, in someone else’s dream, I may be a child, a young man, or any of a thousand other roles I cannot imagine.
It is all well and good to believe that you will know it when you find it, that it will be so obvious you could not miss it.
You’ve been down that road before, and on several occasions were certain that you’d found it in her face, or hers, in her smile, or her laugh, or one of their soft touches and caresses.
You were wrong each time, a facsimile at best, an avatar if you wish, so you are determined to be prepared this time, for there must be a this time you are certain.
You have read all the best books, consulted on the internet, careful to sort the wheat from the chaff, skimmed the cream of the offerings, and have practiced reading the tea leaves.
You dare not miss it so you maintain a high level of vigilance and a focus that is not easily interrupted, ready to spring, but know that it defies logic, that the mind is useless in its presence, and that it is the heart not the head that feels true love.
It is hard, looking back, to recall just how many hours I spent searching with a fair amount of diligence for just the right song to express my love. Most often I would find it, but only after that love had been replaced by another, demanding a new song — you cannot use the same song for two different loves, that crosses well over into tacky. I have to admit I’ve given up totally on that quest, even as the number of available songs has grown exponentially, or so the various streaming services suggest. I have only a single lover now, have for twenty years, and as her hearing has slipped away it is her lips that read mine, and that is all the song we need.