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.
It appears unexpectedly like a sock from behind the dryer long after its mate has been discarded or converted to rag. You have looked for it ever since it went missing and knowing the way of socks and their hiding places the dryer was one of the first places you looked for it. Memories are much like socks now and again running off and hiding, leaving half thoughts and untethered emotions, and there are those worn so thin, holes appear. It is horribly difficult to darn a memory, and once done they never again fit comfortably. You need only look in the back of your sock drawer for all the single socks pining for their mates, but even when you do so you know, deep within, its mate will not reappear and reconciliation will remain only an unfulfilled desire.
First published in Periwinkle Review, Issue 1 (2020)