Arising into night the departing sun tangos away with its cloud, memories soon forgotten.
Other dancers take the stage, now a romance, now a war dance, feathers raised in prayer to unseen gods.
Night will soon bring its curtain across this stage, the avian casts’ final bows taken the theater will darken, awaiting another performance, a new script tomorrow, but for this solitary moment of frozen grace, it is we who write the conversation, our lines sung by actors who know only nature’s unrelenting song.
There is a strange beauty in the slow loss of sight, for there is a progressive transition, a discovery of much that went unheard, unfelt, missing in the glare of the need to see, to categorize and organize, memories neatly arranged in an array of curated visual files.
But without sight what once was cast aside as noise is an intricate tapestry of sound and undistracted, you begin to see the individual threads to see deeply into the art and craft of the unknown weaver.
Without sight, you so often store images in two dimensions but now requiring touch, everything is three dimensional of necessity and the world is infinitely more complex and yes beautiful than you recalled.
And the darkness of night, which marked a border that dared not be fully crossed grows meaningless and hours once lost may again now demand to be lived.
From the heart of the inferno Dante and Lucifer grow bored waiting, waiting for the ferry while Charon stops for lunch yet again at a Greek diner in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. They take up a game of catch tossing Molotov cocktails, raining fire onto the brimstone, setting the Styx ablaze. Each knows this is not necessary, for necessity is a creature of heaven and there is no room for the extraneous here in the realm of forgotten souls. We watch from deep within a nightmare of our darkest memories, certain that heaven must await us, or purgatory if that is how our fate is to finally be written. The angels dance on the ceiling waiting for the precise moment to break Morpheus’ grasp and drag us back to our reality, to continue our dance between heaven and hell.
I carry my past in a monk’s bag that rests on my shoulder.
In it you will find my history, or bits of it, names I have been given, given up, memories of childhood, pictures of my parents who I never knew, aged in my mind from the photos in yearbooks, all that I have of them..
I still have room in my bag, perhaps more room than time.
Deep beneath the Arctic ice the whale songs shimmer in the harsh light of a frozen sun. We strive to hear them, hear nothing, hear only our thoughts echoing through cavernous memories. With thoughts of what was, what we wish had been, we are ambient noise in a universe which cradles hope, craves silence. Dolphins dream of days when the sea was theirs, lives lived in a slow paradise a world the land- bound would never comprehend even as they laid waste to it.
The ghosts of my birth parents blow into my dreams as so many white sheets torn from the clothesline by gale winds, fly over me, at once angels and vultures carrying off memories created from the clay of surmise and wishful thinking.
I invite their visits, frail branches to which to cling in the storms of growing age, beginnings tenuous anchors to hold against time, knowing the battle cannot be won, but take joy in skirmishes not to be diminished by an ultimate failure I have long come to accept.
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)
I’d like you to tell me about the village in which you grew up, and how odd it must have been for you to have met my grandfather so far from any village in the heart of Lithuania. I suspect you left with your parents, exhausted by pogroms, exhausted by the Jewishness that to them defined you. I’d love to know about my mother who I never got to meet, the seventh of your eight children, but like you, she is silent and all I have left is a small photo and a volume of imagined memories.