The sorrow that infiltrates all bowling alleys . . .
I learned things in Albany that I never forgot, but I also never forgot the woman who taught them to me, and the effect has been crippling and ruinous. Or is it that Johnstone is right and we're addicted to the idea that we are personally morally responsible for what we imagine?
[How is the world brought forth? What does it mean to love or be in love?]
At dawn in winter there is a soft blue light before the sun rises that is possibly the only thing in the world that truly calms me. The horses whinny softly when I approach in the dark with a flake of hay in either hand. They jerk their heads annoyed when I talk before feeding them. Low tones that mean nothing, disappearing even before they are uttered. There is no law that one has to say grace before eating! So you can recall old hurts, so what?
So you are still hurt. So you hurt.
Last night driving home from Pittsfield with a few groceries and a pervasive sense that something had gone deeply wrong - beyond the range of correction wrong - the roads were unexpectedly icy. How expert I am at certain forms of navigation! And how clumsy and inept at others. The world often separates into countless altars - some desecrated, some revered, some as yet undiscovered. The one who longs to worship but can't settle down long enough to pray, is that it? First we define the man, then we make the mask, then we go to the dance and execute our clumsy arabesque?
[Do you not see how one word is every other word in waiting? How one sentence brings forth the next sentence in a fluid way, an unbroken way, like a river dashing merrily to the sea?]
The motel room was dim and smelled faintly of piss and we were in it because her father forbade her to see me, which was stupid but a fact. Many men don't like me and I've had to balance accordingly. I piss on your guns and your money, your unholy alliances and unhelpful laws! Something in me does appeal to women who long to be free but still companionate. Peering through blinds west was the first time I perceived the world as smeared on a canvas and thus impossible to enter. Until that moment I hadn't realized how scared I was, nor how difficult my life would become. When she knelt on the carpet, my loneliness became so vast and expansive - like a universe, or maybe the universe - that I lost a critical internal bearing that I never regained. "Like sprouts," she said, swallowing, but nothing green was in me ever, nor will be again.
Jasper laughs when I tell him this, says go write it, and then we talk about his father who is dying. Get him to talk is my best advice, because certain silences don't fill themselves, and there is something very quiet about death. About never again? I was useful in the rebellion she had to enact to get away from her father but altogether not useful in where she was going after, which meant I was quickly unceremoniously discarded. Albany is all bloody, always. It took me decades to see this and "seeing" did not equate to "accepting," hence the many ghosts. Men who are haunted this way are a kind of crippled, and it's not a kind of crippled that fits into stories anybody wants to hear.
Get him to talk. Get him to talk.
Two nights running while falling asleep I ask for some helpful visitation. I offer my dreams to the Lord and the Lord sends an angel who is still learning how to scale figures to imply distance and who - when confused - uses more red than is necessary.
Oh well. I learned how to walk in the rain and how to read Emily Dickinson. Black bears are totems (owls and trout a close second). The woman whose shirt will never fall for me blurs and fades like sinking in a lake. There is always a strangled hymn, always a muffled psalm.
Am I now the man who - choking on yet another discordant hallelujah - spits and keeps going? Into wildernesses, silences, lonelinesses? Swinging a prism, content to simply rhyme? As she is perhaps the woman who says no more kneeling and steps a thousand miles deep into her life, a mystery to me, one that at last I can live with?