Monday, August 31, 2009

The coal in you

The darkest black, mined from the strata. A network of shadowed veins. Metamorphic rock, your gloss speaks of your purity and the rivers of time dedicated to making you shine like that.

Were you to be picked up and put to paper, your traces would be indentations, not smudges. You do not color, you mark and engrave on the archives of this tale. Lines drawn can be smeared, the truth of your path cannot.

You are used, transformed, exploited for purposes that are not your own. The blue of your involuntary flame burns hotter than you can help. A smokeless fire you did not set.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


It's your favorite flower, delicate. It's your favorite perfume, mesmerizing. Sometimes it smells like something you want to eat and other times like something you want to do. Although elsewhere too, it is in you, an essential organ you did not know you had, transplanted in one innocent moment when you answered the call of an instinct smarter than yours. But this is a secret you do not know. You search without, never within. You've pursued it through an elaborate labyrinth - your own wrong turns, dead ends, accidents, and shortcuts have left you lost and more alone than you've ever been. Your only comfort is your blurred certainty that you are neither. It is the cold comfort of a lie that keeps everything in place.

You found its presence one day, at the end of the ocean that keeps you from it, an ocean of time and truths, all denied. You hold it gently and sweetly in your hand. You don't want to crush it, you want to keep it with you forever, hidden in your pocket. But you can't, not like this. If you carry it with you on your travels, years and lives from now, you will have stripped the petals off, painfully one by one. Its fragrance changed - the bitterness of what you would not eat and the disappointment of what you would not do. Search and rescue was meant to be your mission. Not search and destroy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This day

There is something you should know about today.

So many things can mark a day, but you know this, of course. Tone. Mood. Play. Work. Weather.

Unmarked by anything memorable, they pass. Enjoyed or tolerated or endured. Whatever.

And then there are days like today. Hopefully, at the end of your life, you will be able to count their number and it will be mercifully small. A day that n'a pas lieu d'ĂȘtre. A day that does not have the place to be, the room to exist. Which is exactly why you will remember it so clearly. Despite its dissonance and impossibility, it is here. Bookmarked for life.

A day when you can only accept all or nothing but are not allowed that luxury. Never before have you understood the privilege and comfort of extremes like you do today. Because they have never been further from what is available to you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wild kingdom

You knew a woman once. She had animal in there, you could see it from a mile away.  If you actually saw her.  Most people didn't.  Mercifully blind to that kind of person, most people barely noticed her on the street.  Not because she was nondescript, but because they somehow knew they would be safer if they did not.  Brave or naive were those who saw that blackness and approached uninvited anyway.  A few times you actually saw her back away from people who got too close - compassion lightened her eyes and she gave them back the distance they were not wise enough to maintain.  They left the encounters feeling odd and not knowing why.  

You weren't really safe with her either.  But you knew that.  So she let you take your chances.  

It was out of compassion when she left you.  In pieces, yes, but also in peace.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How far would you go?

Did you know there is a veil in front of your eyes?  Not really over them and not exactly a veil, it looks more like a fine net attached to the safari hat you're wearing.  Which suits you perfectly.  A veil is for maintaining mystery - your net is pure survival function.  You could not live in this world of yours without it.  Things that bite are kept at bay and the grid of wires frames every vision you have.  Times are changing though.  

Your eyes have begun to focus differently, more slowly.  Shifting focus is harder with time.  You can no longer see the net - it's too close for you to focus on it.  You find yourself having to adjust distances if you want to be able to trust your perception.  So let's talk about distances.  Let's talk about the one between you and what you want. 

Don't think of it in terms of miles, think of it in terms of years.  Chunks of lifetime.   

Net or no, you've been bitten.   

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Your path

You had an uncanny ability to see the worst, quickly. No judgment, you were just fluent in the language of evil. An interpreter's gift. You spoke it with ease and detachment and indifference. But you did wash your hands when you were finished.

Put your hands there, you said. Obedience followed, but not well. Hands on the flame and the fire, the red and the orange. Black dots, bad ones, formed the outline of the deadliest triangle, a personalized Bermuda triangle where everything gets lost in a silent, swirling vortex whose origin no one can explain. Not even you.

And then you blithely ask for words to describe it. You talk about it like it's an ice cream flavor you're considering having for dessert, not a carnivorous natural disaster that's been eating its own way through this history.

You are very good at what you do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Unknown to you

You're a brave soul, or maybe we mistake arrogance for bravery. If that is the case, it is not the worst kind of arrogance, it comes from long held habits of yours - ease and success. Not that you didn't work for either - you did - but your life is more charmed than you think. In a moment of both weakness and strength - and those are rare, magical moments - you invited darkness into your house. But like your arrogance - if that is indeed what it is - this is not the worst kind of darkness. Neither evil nor harmful, it is dark only in color, not in essence. And so, for all of these reasons, you are not afraid to let it stay with you for a while.

Because, if there's one thing you know, it's how to clean a house. You carry the supplies - a full range of products and equipment - from room to room. Darkness gone, you will remove every trace, every scent, every remnant, every hint of anything not inherent to this home. Bright light returns and the shadows disappear. Which is how you like it, right?

This helps, for a time. You do not understand why it doesn't help more.

Didn't anyone tell you? Even clean, your house will be haunted. The whisper of memories will swirl around you, hidden behind the smell of pine and vinegar and bleach. You will be frustrated at every corner you turn, a secret wish - unknown to your mind that masters - to see, to feel what is no longer there, no longer yours - a wish that will never leave you alone.

There is no cure for this.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The tourist

I live in a land of unofficial laws, you said, your feet up on the table.

You can come and stay with me, for a time. I'll show you the lay of the land, you said.

I had pretty pictures in my mind of colorful maps and flow charts.

And so I did. Stay with you. But I left again without ever having learned them, those unofficial laws. Compliance does not imply understanding. And there were no maps. Just thick walls. And no colors, just the gray of black and white pictures. And of course no flow charts. Just endless check lists. It was all very slick.

You gave it your best though. You gave it everything you had. It, not me.

One day, you will have to be forgiven for your generosity.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

One fine day

Observe this, you say. Watch and learn.

Oh, I will.

I will watch you play this round like you know how it's going to end.

I will laugh, gently, when your shadow jumps out and scares the patterned breath out of you.

I will watch you as you stand at your fork in the road, not believing in road signs.

I will laugh, quietly, when you realize where the burden falls.

I will watch you do what you have never done before. Lose.

I will laugh, with you, when loss becomes gain.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The hunter's woman

We say woman because that's what she is. She may have been your daughter, your wife, or your mistress, but that's just the name of the box she lived in.

She's got quite an education this one. Don't be fooled by all her comings and goings, she's observed and learned during those travels, things of both herself and you.

She doesn't touch your knives, they inspire nothing in her personally, or rather they inspire her far too personally, she's been too close to knives all her life. She does like to watch you work with them though. Just tools to you, she trusts you with knives. And she loves it that you assume your kill completely. She knows the hunt starts early in the morning for you, it's not your sport - it's your experience. She knows you apply the same patience to the watch as you do to the skinning, gutting and cleaning. She likes it that you are skilled at each step. A true hunter, not just a killer, you clean up your mess.

Your guns do not impress her, although she recognizes your skill and ease with them. She notices how they look in your hands. You make it look effortless.

Her preference? The crossbow. She takes it out at night when you're sleeping. She spent weeks in the dark with it, reading it like braille, her fingers seeing for her. It's almost like touching herself. Internal sear, metal. Integral plates, ivory. Wood and sinew, bound with animal tendon.

Whether you know it or not, this weapon you share.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Too close and not close enough

I suppose what really changes is perspective.

You've been way off on this - you realize that now. Your face right up against it, you have found safety in the detail, or so you thought.

This is not the first time you've been confronted with this. Nor, I suppose, the last.

The most recent case? Edges you thought you had known, named. Ridged teeth on a carbon steel knife. Sometimes too far, this time you were too close. You've been staring at it in your hand for months, years now, convinced you knew what you were gazing at. Yes, gaze.

You backed up. A gentle hand yanked you, way back. You saw it was not the jagged edge of a knife, but stairs. Black stairs you've spent your life trying to climb. Hard work - the edge of each step is a blade. You know when you reach the top that the soles of your feet will be mapped with cuts, bloody and painful. You're not concerned though, you're not meant to walk there. There, you are meant to never touch the ground.