Thursday, March 14, 2013

Misdirected Effort And How It Might Be Corrected

This then is the new mode. He wakes early - earlier than usual and after pissing and realizing he isn't going to fall back to sleep - takes the dog out. A light snow falls, barely obscuring pinprick stars that glitter in the vast darkness he has always compared to a soft fabric undulating in cosmic winds. He thinks of the women he knows, and will know, and it makes him feel old. The last desire is always the hardest.

They walk slowly east and turn into the forest a bit below the old homestead. He bows to the usual trees, pushing further until they reach the brook which sings loudly in Spring spate, rich and full like a man who no longer needs to ask anything of anyone. Then they come back the long way, up the steep hills, stopping now and then to look behind them at their tracks which are barely visible in the dusting but also filling. We are here and not here, not that the difference matters. An eighteen wheeler switches gears a mile away where 112 comes out of the rise and it quickens his pace, this reminder there is work to do.

He boils what remains of yesterday's coffee in the old pot that came from God knows where, rinsing it quickly of what is hopefully just dust. Kibble mixed with chicken grease and skin from the day before yesterday's dinner for the dog - a few scraps for the old cat who smells like the grave, no other or better way to say it. On the mantle in the dark living room he finds the jade elephant Steve gave him twenty-five years ago and feels the cool smoothness of the spine tapering off to the trunk, and remembers road trips to the theaters where Steve was performing - okay as Hamlet, best as Mercutio - and then at the end (in an Albany diner beset with rain) a long talk about what was possible and what was not and the question of whether desire - that desire that way - might ever change. Beside the elephant is the amethyst from Kirk, the clear quartz from Dave, and the hand-carved black bear his grandfather gave him one morning in Spring nearly four decades earlier. He has always known men with secrets and he has always been their faithful keeper.

And then at last he comes to this - the writing, this writing - feeling the melted snow pass a coldness into his bones. The twenty sentences were begun for a man but seem to better hold the attention of women. What we ask of others we cannot give ourselves, is the line he has been holding in mind all morning, and only know sees outside, and cannot say works or does not. He has spent a lifetime trying to tell others about the given - wanting them to see as he does the beauty of it, the ease of it - and only now begins to perceive the misdirected effort and how it might be corrected. The twentieth sentence is where the form declares an end but you know - and you know you know - what continues unhindered.

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