In those days I lingered on the shore of Lake Champlain because a woman was on the other side, and yet I did not reach out to her, for good enough reasons to which we had both assented, but now I see it as a lesson in distance, not restraint.
Now this happens.
Always I am left. Always I am alone at four a.m., pretending that prayer and black coffee are sufficient, which they are not
Unanswered is not sufficient.
Here is the outline of my heart in red crayon. Here is my reading of Saint Augustine in my twenties, then in my forties and again in my mid-fifties. In my hayloft there are many bibles and other, less-sacred texts, and in all of the margins are notes, and in all of the notes are insights, and in all of the insights are questions that not even Augustine managed to answer.
What you think is real and what is real.
I lingered on the shore of Lake Champlain studying the faint green of New York, loving my loneliness and confusing it - as I have always - with genuine solitude.
What we forget as we learn what we are made to forget. Interior spaces in which we stumble in the snow bank, professing our love, and then he is gone, then he is driving down College Street forever, then we are alone again, and alone again, and alone again.
How in a sense I don't want you, and how in a sense it doesn't matter to you, what I want or don't want, because what you want is always what begets us.
Scrounging quarters for parking meters, malted vanilla ice cream on park benches in sunlight, used bookstores while stoned, not knowing what town you're in while driving through it.
Looking with her for the other way, the way where nobody is hurt, where love is love and always merciful, always just.
After a week of sleeping, a rough night of sleeping, wracked by bad dreams and that interior sense of unworthiness coupled with the need to be ready always for whatever comes next.
How when I unzip - or am unzipped - there is always a catch, a moment of registering with the Lord one's nonsexual longing for a deeper almost mystical union and the brief sharp sadness of knowing it can never - in this body, in this life, this way - be brought forth.
The ghost I am, learning how not to haunt anymore.
The dog I am, with no coil rug on which to rest curled while waiting for scraps, pats, kicks, be gones.
Long nights, longer days, and this, always this.