A Day, a Night, and a Whisper

Wandering around the earth forever, looking for permanence anywhere, except in his heart, at least his feet were faithful enough to carry him to a tree, near a stream, where roots evoked the memory of an ancestry long since lost. The smell of the earth fresh, unspoiled, went straight to his head, and with that, a ray of sunlight left him naked, to the wind, blowing his hair in a circular pattern, dizzying, throwing him slightly off balance, forcing him to take a wider stance. Sweat began to trickle down his brow, as he tried again to fight his way through reminders of a forbidden city, close to his destination, yet not so romantic as the way his shoes got wet, but not soaked, when he slipped carelessly into the stream. It hadn’t happened to him so suddenly because of the freedom in his movements, nor silently, enough to let the earth know, or sigh.
He looked for a way to cover up weaknesses: to express a thought, and act sure of it, though he was never sure of anything, tripping over his own thoughts, some good ones, some bad ones, but all of them seeming to him worthwhile, having the potential to lead him past a closed doorway, into a room filled with morning light and laughter.
Driving fast, with the sun shining at his back, looking at a world so much bigger than him, it was humbling sometimes, when he stopped alongside the road, just to see, for miles and miles, until his heart couldn’t take it any more. Waiting for the ice to melt, he could get back in his car, fearlessly, knowing he wouldn’t skid again, helplessly, and turn the wheel in the direction of his future, randomly.
Was the nonsense of the past week, encroaching on his weekend, really preferable to the frenzy of time and people watching him not exist, just surviving by the side of the road? When the cell was not ringing, it was ringing in his head, because there was not time to invite calm. Yet calm was in the air, fresh as he had not felt in ages. The backwards movement of his mind brought back moments, like fingers on his skin, the tremor deep within, trapped butterflies, intermittent sighs, a blind disguise wasted like an imprint without a step forward. Marching to a beat seeping in his bones, a voice came with it, teasing him.
With poise he retreated from the absent noise of his heart not audibly beating, but keeping pace with all the faces that surrounded his steps. Every morning, his alarm clock jolted him out of his sleep, and every day he measured the extent of the disruption by the amount of time the alarm rang before he had a chance to shut it off.
Outdoors, he saw the promise of a new day that rejuvenates; the spirit, the hope, the rolling hills woven together in a tapestry of dreams; the countryside melting with the soul of this great planet; the golden rays of sun hiding from no one, the stream that flows through the lives of everyone, and then at night, the full moon rising with its mystic smile, and the stars, countless stars, pleading with him to dream, dream and dream.
He didn’t think about the task he had to fulfill to keep alive. He was too busy dreaming about the weight of her body on top of his, the weightlessness of the air around her smile, the charm of her lips kissing a northern star, the taste of her tongue swirling like a western wind, the feel of her cheeks hidden between her thighs, the smell of gardens blooming for her pale disguise, the striking of matches, slow, aching, soothing, satisfying, quenching a thirst for eight months lost to another rainbow, far away, like trout swimming upstream, under a bridge, where people meet and sweet music feels the heart, a bridge called his back, step over it, contort it, strain it, for strainers to rest prettily by the brook that knows where to flow, why to go, nowhere under the sun so effortless as her smile, that pleads a while, and then lets go, for him to caress her and the plants beneath his feet, they grow, grow large and hot and moist and then, forgotten again like nobody’s sin, sin for no one to know but all to feel, the grace in her movements, the taste of her breath, the wishes transpired, the passion retired, the envy of another whose truth lay uncovered, until, somewhere, if no one knew another, if nobody were another one’s brother, sadly enough, because stars gleam and they gleam, but sometimes it seems, casually and lusciously, they would approach him like they did in his dreams, together and then apart, at rest and then yearning, yearning for passion unfulfilled, the cry of a lost bird on the open sea, the sun hiding behind a cloud, for sometimes it’s embarrassing for the sun to see what it doesn’t want to, God’s hand lying unseen, beneath the ground, preparing the earth for a better day.
At noon the hand of hands can always be felt. Three hands of a clock come together, twelve is the number, divine is the slumber, the sleep that carries him day to day, through dreams, fantasies untold, the wind so bold, the air so cold, a snow flurry dances before his eyes, the tears fresh from another lost heart, starting to flow with pain, with lonely characters peopling the paintings of his imaginings, the strings of puppets that obey and obey, the elderly man says morality holds no sway, the mass of earth attracts all other celestial bodies, but none so enchanted as the moon, never to depart, always felt, for tides to shift and gloom to lift, none to change and soon to fit, askance, per chance, because nobody can really say I love you forever and ever, together never sever, the size, the dreary eyes, hypnotized while waiting for the beat of her heart, somewhere close to his, some eerie mist, some person’s bliss, not hit or miss, no drunken kiss, but hovering, discovering, how sweet the song of the swan, not gone, but here to stay, by his side, forever, together, in a dream, all revelations seem so unattainable, the feel of her lips, against his, slowly, otherwise, for what was his youth spent? he wonders, how it seems, to others, to be young again, to show, some grow old, others cold, but those with hearts that never surrender, growing younger with each year, the monument is near, to erect, like the memory of some great man, like Martin Luther King, who knew the songs of praise for victims unknown, although ignored, patrolled, controlled by the whims of a faraway stare, “I have you, I have you,” she cried in the night, like feathers, a million feathers, what could they be but swarms of bees buzzing to disturb the night from a sleep long prolonged, sung again like her waterfall?
In a trance, a glance, a dance, a romance, a night together, if ever there were a love so strong, to cast away all other thoughts, leaving the soul bare, vulnerable, open, pure, free to unite, with another soul so near, much like his own, offering him the inner mirror he needed, to understand songs of birds, flying in circles, as if to mimic the swirling wind, through air so light, light as her breath, the fragrance of orchids offered to no one, while her lower lip, slightly in front of her upper lip, spelling yearning, desire, more, more, with silence in between, beneath the trees, shadows passing quickly and protectively, not to expose love in too much light, where jealous predators stalk, angry men walk, proudly, as if forgetting they too are steered, by forces unknown to them, too great, too awesome, for them to believe, without living meekly. The greed, the need to be obeyed, strikes down humility in one ungracious blow, but the meek rise again, to embrace the earth, with equal shares, with polar bears, so white as to scare the life out of the most courageous observer. Absence of color leaves no fruit to taste, just light, reflected outward, like paint, thrown across a canvass, not too discrete, or as Lao-Tse said, “whether one dispassionately sees to the core of life, or passionately sees the surface, the core and the surface are essentially the same, words making them seem different only to express appearance.” So if love were realized, or just anticipated, what difference would it make to the characters involved, knowing in their own way, what can only escape the roughness of tongues, dancing again, uncontrollably, like in a Pentecostal church, bodies swaying, music playing, with the promise that a loved one brings, not the one that cuts, but the one that heals as it feels, slowly, wondering whether she is fragile, or whether she yearns for sudden outbursts of strength, awakening the spirit from its winter rest, too long asleep, too easy to forget.
They were drifting, wondering why the world wasn’t closer to their design, that they sketched in earlier years, hoping, groping for a texture to hold it all together, on maps unfound, but shining through their eyes. It was like those old plays where the characters get so lost in their role, they forget the story is beautiful. Cast out of broken families like two nomads waiting for a new sun, they wandered, they lost their way, they found each other. A fire may not have burned for the two of them, but one burned on, and on, in his dreams, in her eyes, like the memory of a love never known, but felt, buried in the earth, yet still alive.
They would ring for a new land. Like magic, the earth heard their cries, and responded, sighing, then softening up wherever feet danced with reverence, preference for the splendor of the sky to bend, but never send forsaken wishes through a wise man’s heart.
Two falling leaves are just about to hit the ground, and it looks as if they’ll touch the earth simultaneously. Like two people swaying in the wind during their youth, before falling together when the time comes, in order to find a hard resting place, it’s as if they’ve lived their whole lives to be observed in that one moment.
Dancing on the beach in the soft moonlight, they talked of going swimming as they held each other tight. Seashells at their feet waited to be looked at, to be felt, but his eyes were in hers and her hands were in his, and she wanted to return to the warmth of her home. She had been in her car before, under a fuller moon, with a different guy, driving at the same speed. The past may not have been all that she could have made of it, but it was gone, as surely as the lover she left behind. She could feel herself drifting away, away from her body, away from his, as she looked into the window of a dimly lit room. Then the car stopped, and she saw she was home.
She liked the sweatiness of the place. It reminded her of a face, a space, a trace, a chase, an untied shoelace, a broken cage, released rage, “the world is a stage,” the words of a sage, you never age, but turn the page and strike tomorrow’s discontent. A familiar lament, a body spent, a memory bent, a love letter sent, no reply, no reply, yet there was a cry. Presumptions, assumptions, were they stated or dated, or slowly tasted?
You walk around the scene of the crime, you dress like a clown, you scream a little bit, you point your finger occasionally, then you admit you didn’t really know what was going on. The future doesn’t scare me any more. I’ve shared my food with rats on the beach, I swam with sharks off the Hawaii coast, I broke my back lifting boxes filled with the commissioner’s reports on rape in the inner city, I watched men on Child Row smoke their last cigarette, and I escaped it all: the junkyard, the falling trees, the crumbling buildings, the flood of words written on walls, clearly, for everyone to understand, so that they could not be forgotten.
As we tackle the problems that affect our lives, our times, it seems that we try hard to prove that we care. Our concern takes the form of an obligation, to be fulfilled, in order to maintain an acceptable appearance. But who are we to ourselves? I have presented myself to the world in a way I consider suitable, and when I come home, I look for a place to rest my mask. But there is no place at home for my mask, so I have to go outside again. Then I run into someone I know. I recognize him by his mask. Like ships in the open sea, we pass each other, but neither helps the other one navigate.
I need to appear useful like the robots around me, acting industrious, willing to serve humanity, always busy, not to be distracted by the language of the heart, that can open wounds closed since childhood. Who wants to see the futile tears pouring out of you like a waterfall, the hair on your back standing straight in anticipation of punishment, your pleas to be forgiven for something you did wrong though you don’t know what? The world is full of mistakes, chaos, and misery, and you are unfortunate enough to have met the person ready to set it right, to balance the forces, to set you on the proper path, until resentment burns in your chest ‘til you have to scream. The tunnel you left, before you found the light, is not worth remembering, because it belonged to another day. The tears are gone now, the road is smooth, your senses have become a little numb, but it’s worth it, isn’t it? Not to get on that roller-coaster ride, taking you through mansions of pain then out in the rain, leaving you to wonder where you’ll find shelter again.
There were many times when my path followed very quiet hallways, drifting through a kind of silence that was not mine at all. The stillness of my childhood came back to me, where I was restrained, constrained—detained, I should say. And in this silence I didn’t even know what exactly I was not supposed to do. Then one day, I discovered the exit, and suddenly realized, there is a heartbeat outside I was not supposed to hear. Who was really telling me that the exit was forbidden? It was nobody, except a voice inside of me. Finally, I extricated this voice from my abdomen, through a process that cannot easily be described.