Like so many things, it comes when I have given in, given up the search, released the desire, turned my attention elsewhere. It comes in crumpled-up moments – in splintered, fickle doses.
It’s as if my expectation of it is the very thing that prevents it. I might be on the town running errands, ticking them off the list one by one, when something else happens, something unplanned, something unscheduled, a canceled appointment that cracks open a half-hour like a chest of impossible jewels.
This is how it comes to me. Not on my knees begging, no, but rather when I have laid down the obsession gently on the ground and carried on.
Yet even then, stillness (like an alley cat or a bird or a whale or a poem or sun on a cloudy day) might show itself, or it might not.
Then there was the time we sat holding hands, our backs pressed against the wrinkled trunk of an oak tree like a bent grandfather, watching the night submit to unchangeable ways, seeing the sun come up for the very first time.
At the not-careful age of whatever-it-was, we knew we’d really seen something – a first glimpse into the exhilarating stillness of the world, away from the expectations of all the adults, away from the blah-blah-blah of other kids. And a first glimpse of the fire that could not much longer be contained, binding us to our bodies ever after.
We shared those first moments in that faded blue sleeping bag, and then sitting at the foot of that tree, with a sunrise carefully designed to tremble our worlds with feelings we didn’t even know existed.
Not long after, your parents moved away, and you with them. That’s when I began to think of love as a cactus. It looks cool, but if you touch it yer gonna bleed.
Observe the skin fascination, the black daybreak, the workers who whistle from time to unshakable time. Come, paint your man. My mouth is a music-light in the morning. We could help the children of these broad windows, the empty space shining beneath soft lights.
Don’t take hunger so personally. Even golden-haired Mary takes off her clothes like silk clockwork, has coffee or wine and rattles a magazine. Leap into her hands on the table but be careful around the poison of a systematic life. Her obsessed audience may crucify a quick tongue, make an extravagant tragedy worthy of fresh meat before lions.
Chase the sun for the bleached promise of sugar-flowers and sticky eyes across a patchwork carnival of failed madness.
We live in the crook of fortune’s flexible arm, an arm that winds up at a predetermined and rigid hand. We live both sides, both ways, each a tiger, surveying from ripples wound about the tightened stake of natural selection.
Doors may or may not open. We’d relish a look at the other side without going through, a rare and much sought-after mystical optometry.
We live as long as our hearts pump blood and not a minute longer. Science reclaims us when the coast is clear, no movements in the way, no thoughts interrupting, our graceful little motor shot.
Then we move down a new path, maybe without a top or bottom, maybe without sides and in-betweens. There are no maps, though we have spent our lives hearing about the place.