Acuity is such a strange word, sharp on the tongue and in meaning, but also a mark of what once was, what will never be again, replaced perhaps by a visual vacuity, comfortable word, no sharp edges, vague images floating behind a gauze seeping slowly into a scrim, knowing the stage will soon enough go dark, despite the ever brighter lighting. But replaced perhaps by ever greater auditory acuity, all edges, cutting sounds unmuted, fine shades of gradation, hearing clearly what you will soon stumble over yet again.
Arising into night the departing sun tangoes 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 cast’s final bows taken the theatre 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 comes that one moment for each who lives when he steps out onto the silent stage, speaks such of the lines as he recalls, gives a half-intended bow, and in his rage
curses his lost youth like over-aged wine, that is now a shadow of its promise and he knows that somehow this is a sign not of what he was but what he now is.
In the evening mirror he doesn’t know the white bearded face that stares back at him, a far older man who hates the coming of night. He searches in vain for a way to show that the spark that once burned did not grow dim but holds even more tightly to the light.
You ask me what is the first thing I can remember, and seem surprised when I tell you memory is much like a Buddhist river, never the same twice. Memory is a stage and I am one to forget my lines, today it’s the window in the back of a Miami Beach bus amazed at the sweeping curve facade of the grandest of hotels, or the cast iron of the radiator with its almost rusting pipes, standing on the small square white tiles, outlined like the walls in black, the bit of my hair stuck in the valve knob, a bit of blood on the floor beneath where the rag wouldn’t reach when we got back from the hospital, my toddler head beneath a bandage, the floor where my father would fall three months later. The problem is childhood doesn’t come with stage directions and my lines are associated with places and things and a child cannot read a script and memories drown and float to the surface
and are carried downstream to a sea replete with things I have long since forgotten, like the face of my mother before they took me to the foster home and she returned, again barren, to her own river of a life.