Tuesday, December 27th, 2016 – 12:30 am
“Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him:
but weep sore for him that goeth away:
for he shall return no more,
nor see his native country.”
She can’t crawl nor hide from the ache inside, the craven craving a lost ember saving her, that no amount of love or comfort might staunch or salve or sate. The first alluring, only enduring pain. The curling full stop cursor at the end of the curse or fame.
Fill it, distort it, fuck it, ignore it. Let fly silent cries for the great undo. Blue skies from pangs and her epic patience, her hunger insatious. The unquenchable fire and death of desire, to long for her hopelessly and helplessly against the harbor and scarring and the darkness rather craved.
What if that stranger was really us the whole time?
Turn away. Burn it, reword it, turn it into friend or furtive foe, while your strength saves. Numb the noise with new tears of defiance and desire for death of despair done daily. The grinding, mindless, kindless roll up the hill that is only blood and regret, worth every loving step.
What if I open my eyes and never climb, never find that hill and house of light?
What if I stop searching and strangle the sight?
“You can’t go home again,” my dad blurted randomly toward a filthy, cracked and peeling dashboard.
His modus vivendi was transparent and faithful. He retreated into caverns of virtual and ritual and alternate realities infinite, winning lost arguments and undoing vicious rumors of time and God and fate. When he emerged, he cried out with mountainous wisdom, stolen or original. The kind that can slow a heart or restart one. His mind was the most reflective one I’ve even known, besides my own. And I studied him every day like a fucking beating depended on it.
“What? What do you mean?” I asked.
Paul looked at me and I read his face with my usual alacrity. He wanted to ask the same, but always let me go first. I saved him the trip or change of scenery. My feet would always be under mom’s seat, as deference to my primacy in verbal daring.
“I said, you can’t go home again,” he uselessly repeated.
“Right. You said that already. So again. What does it mean?” I usefully repeated.
You always follow up impertinence with immediate requests for already offered information. They are conversational baffles, impudent freebies. The speaker wants to tell you already and may not go backward to bite you. Freebie. Maybe.
Not today. Eyes in the rearview, framed in Naval platitudes, he just cleared the game board. No repartee’ for the remainder of the ride. And I knew it was true, before he said a word.
“Watch your fucking mouth unless you want a beating.”
There he is.
I watched him behind the seats squirm and acquiesce, perfect in terror and peace. The boy’s faceless expression says he yields, but still dares speak.
“If you’re done being a fucking smartass, it means those who long to go home will often travel great distances to the place of their childhood, but only to find that whatever they think they sought from there is long gone. Or maybe not there in the first place. It’s a famous line from a book by Thomas Wolfe.”
He loved preaching his sermons. If he only knew how many were ignored and still left scars.
“What are they looking for?” I ask. I’m back in the game.
Different eyes this time. From this world.
“That’s the question. Isn’t it?”
We drove another twenty miles. Then another thousand. We traded west and east coasts and their beautiful girls more than once. Looking for home. Looking for the feeling that makes the word a blessing and not a cursing spit through bloodied teeth. The most expensive word which has no meaning to a boy who has lived in twenty and thirty and forty so called homes and in each one beat.
He haughtily confessed and humbly boasted his humanity. Finally towering the mountain, he reaches across decades to stir up the fables and remind me of greater tales and lesser tragedies in alternate streams. An old man will dream dreams. He longs for a home forever gone. Then he cried out for a heart that no longer longs.
The same bell and calm that await us each at the end of our songs.