Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Ruins of Perfect Love

Family tie-dye parties my youngest daughter convenes, a joy I can neither explain nor bear, as if some thread of light or color were binding me up in love despite myself. 

Let me not forsake that which has not once forsaken me. 

The side yard lilac which for yet another year I will not cut down though it does not bloom and never will again. A cockroach heart, quivering neurons not sure where to send their beams of sodium light. You learn how to live in prison, he said, tilting his beer as if to remind himself there was a bottom. That was what century, what version of Irish.

That was which protagonist.

The sea is a daughter of the moon and the moon is a daughter of the dark and the dark is an outpouring of divine love we fear and therefore worship and thus fail to love as in these human frames we are called to love. 

In confusion and grief the Man without Shoes brings his body to yet another ceremony that does not require bodies and agrees to yet another painful execution. Oh look - a guillotine - where should I put my head?

Fireball shots swallowed in secret. Beer cans hurled out open windows into roadside grass. I remember whiskey, I remember thinking brandy might be less brutal and I remember not remembering after. 

I remember Chrisoula crying, taking Dad's Ruger .22 out of my hand. I remember years later taking all the guns to the police station, shaking uncontrollably in the car after, Chrisoula saying over and over - one hand on the steering wheel, the other on the back of my neck - "it's okay it's okay it's okay."  

I remember Mike pointing at me saying "that's the guy you don't want to fight 'cause he doesn't care who he fights or if he wins, he just wants to fight," and everybody nodding and that was family, that was history.

For the longest time, that was how it went (which included when it could go that way again). 

I think a lot not about Christ crucified but the dumb bastards who, following orders, killed him, who were kids probably, bored probably, for whom it was just a job. And it was - for them it was. 

Dad's grave two hours east calling like how sometimes at night the river calls, asking me to stand mute in darkness beside it, antennae for whatever grim song the universe wants to play in me. 

What makes me sad, what feels like a lifetime, what never goes away.  

Golgotha in the rear-view before he'd even died, before he'd even said "forgive them for they know not what they do," you know? 

Tell me, what lives in the ruins of perfect love? A motel just off the interstate you only stop at because there's nowhere else to stop. When we look at the mirror under the shroud, when we look at death, when we look at the emptiness even death cannot consume. 

There is no bottom, is what we can't quite bring ourselves to say and instead get religious and say "it's turtles all the way down" or "be still and know that I am God" or "whose kingdom is the world for you today." 

It takes a long time to say it hurts, doesn't it. Lifetimes. More than lifetimes.

I have all these cousins, all these uncles - I have all these brothers - and my father didn't teach me how to love them and now what. 

Who needs an apology, who needs to apologize. 

This is which protagonist. This is which narrative.

Two or three days ago, on Fairgrounds Road in bright sunlight walking, I prayed a rosary to remember I am forgiven and I remember the rosary, I remember the sunlight but not the forgiveness. Never the forgiveness.

In this life I got as far as saying "fuck off" to the ones who said "here's a hammer and some nails, go kill yourself" but I got no further.

What is further.  

This morning I put a shirt on - blue, green and yellow softly swirling - the sea in summer moonlight - the one Fionnghuala says is best - and prayed. "Please God let me hurt no one today."


See, this is how I enter the story: something beautiful but splintered, a stray dog that won't let you get too close, a broken window you can neither fix nor clean. But it's not my story it's your story. And it's not a story it's a prism, one that reminds you we are all daughters reminding the father - that misplaced dream of holiness, that misbegotten kingdom - it's okay to slow down, rest, draw a breath. It's okay - at last it is okay - to be happy. 

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