“But as for me, I will [go]”
“But as for me, I will [go]”
Let time pass. Let all kinds of time pass. Once he was settled toward the back of the bus, alone in a two-seater (which he knew wouldn’t last), Nohl shut his eyes and let himself meditate on this gentle imperative. Earlier that morning, as he showered, it rose up and hovered in his mind like steam. On the bus, though, he imagined that the words came to him just then from somewhere outside of himself, way outside. He saw a large slick, insulated (and insured) envelope, containing this message, blasting past black holes and through mesospheres and stratospheres and whatever other ‘spheres there might be, through different kinds of cosmic dust and space clouds, and then dispatched into the earth’s atmosphere, where it continued down along the pale but fast-goldening sun rays of this mid-July morning and caught a warm upward breeze, which sent it very un-coincidentally into an open window on this very same ride. Let time pass. Let all kinds of time pass. That was all it said, but according to the envelope it was meant for him.
Better still, he would like to think the words were delivered specifically to him from “On High,” along with instructions, “Guidance,” on what to do during this “all kinds of time” and how about after it passed, too? Yes, please. And just a bit in the way of explanation regarding the big “why?” of it all would be helpful. But no, nothing like that had ever been, would ever be, forthcoming, Nohl had come very slowly to understand. Feeling agitated, also tired and a little sick because of last night’s activities (the good, the bad, the inexplicable), he tossed about in his seat, his exoskeleton-like exterior clashing with the exoskeleton-like interior of the bus. In one particularly herky-jerky maneuver designed to discourage anyone then boarding from sitting with him (as a favor to them, he thought), he ended up spilling his coffee into his old running shoes, which he had no recollection of taking off. Huh. Could the new Nohl be the kind of guy who takes his shoes off whenever/wherever he pleased … on a bus like this, no less? Why not? He kind of liked it, smiled to himself. So how about throwing away the soggy no-good beaters, laden with roads already travelled, at the very first rest stop, cutting yet another tie with the past? He liked that too — poetic. And he’d just put on the pair packed in his carry-on.
The Nohl who packed the bag late last night was worried about grubbing up these other shoes, which were nicer and newer, on the long bus ride. Today’s Nohl got that but considered it a little strange that he decided to put them in the carry-on at all (given the size of the bag). But then, he often saw evidence of another, wiser, version of himself, who could see further past the surface of things, the present, than the regular Nohl could, knew what to do sometimes when the regular Nohl didn’t (but not every time, far from fucking every time. Last night for example. OK, just: Let time pass. Let all kinds …). Wiser Nohl was there to help pack the bag, sure, but where was he exactly when Russell told him that Francis Fahy was dead and regular Nohl felt compelled to excuse himself to use the bathroom — which he did but not before paying Fahy a little visit (“just to be sure,” was the thin explanation he offered himself), not before having to set his stop-watch bag to zero again. And here he was today (yeah, “as for me…”), wiser Nohl nowhere to be found. He tried to focus on the shoes in his bag, something hopeful, something that made him feel that there were plans for him still and maybe he wasn’t damned after all.
There is always “burn” here now.
There is always “burn” here now.
Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./
To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./
There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/
We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./
But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./
Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/
There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./
After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./
I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./
And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.
THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.