Friday, May 1, 2020

I Do Not Lift My Eyes

There are worse things than starting over. And there is no middle, no matter what the rest of you says. It's Sunday - just after midnight - and I am restless, like a man who has lost the moon.

Did I mention that I have a body? Distraction, not detail, is my narrative gift. When I walk up and down Main Street, I own the tired gait of a black bear who lacks the concept of time required to understand the finality of death and so merely assumes he's succumbing to a deeper - more private - sleep.

I played a game that I'm hungry but it ended up being I'm hoarding so reluctantly I stopped. Yesterday I saw the fine worn grains of Chrisoula's face and realized we are together passing into the country of old people and was grateful for such a worthy companion. As T.S. Eliot said - (also, fuck T.S. Eliot) - I know what I must do.

Crows atop the compost, yet another familiar image. Some boys like birds, some boys want to know it's okay they're not feeling like a loaded gun. The cross and the lotus, the prose poem and the lap dulcimer, the bare shoulder and the plaid flannel shirt falling forever, never reaching any floor to which I am privy.

My son explains that the song I wrote when I was twenty was trying for the Dorian mode and grins awkwardly when I kiss him and praise his knowledge. Over western hills something beckons but it will go on beckoning now my attention is moving elsewhere. Walking up Main Street I pull my wool cap tighter, study the fall of each foot, and resolve not to slip.

Or will we get there one day? I putter quietly around the downstairs near one a.m., not wanting to wake anyone but not ready to sleep, and interested as always in how things look. Once you know the reading list is going to outlive you, you start to understand what Emily Dickinson was getting at in certain poems, i.e., it's late but not too late.

So long as I do not lift my eyes or indulge any fantasy of climbing, I am allowed to place my hand on the lowest rung. After the wedding comes the marriage, after the marriage comes the last true love, and after the last true love comes the Lord in her rocker, stitching and pulling stitches from the vast luminous quilt you last laid eyes on at about age four.

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