At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Father and Son

Another Fathers’ Day came and went. A weekend of lost dreams.
Days spent staring at a blinking cursor on an empty white screen.
I want to write about him. I want to share my dreams and secrets, but cannot find the words.

I cannot find the words I’ve sought for year on year on year...

I loved my father
idolized him
adored him
emulated him

still do…

* * *

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Paean To Rapture

All it took was a poem and a comment, and I found myself contemplating rapture...again. It’s not the first time. Two years ago,
I offered this blog entry, where I posted one of my own poems, Drowning In Beauty. There it is again, death as a metaphor for something far different…whether drowning in beauty or a “silo of gold”…it’s all the same.

Maybe rapture isn’t the right word; maybe it’s not ecstasy, either. What is the proper term for losing yourself in a dream and a soul? That’s what I’m talking about, here: losing yourself in a beautiful soul…a golden whirlpool…surrendering yourself to another.

T. R. Hummer’s poem Where You Go When She Sleeps captures, for me, the physical sensations of the experience. His metaphor transports me to a familiar dream, lost in my love’s hair or breath or heat or scent. I am mesmerized by the dream, and lose myself in the “whirling of sunlight and water and air full of shining dust….” I am a man-child who knows what it’s like to surrender my soul, to be filled with the gold of another, to drown in love.

It’s a transforming experience.

Hummer’s poem resonates because I’ve lived it. I’ve written that I’ve had four grand passions in my life. How do I know? I know because, at some point in each relationship, in dizzying moments of pure serenity and sheer awe, I lost myself in…surrendered to…her soul. With two, the rapture came early. With two, it took far longer. As I wrote before:

One is blessed if, even for a fleeting moment, the soul surrenders to another. In the space of a heartbeat, we become divine...taste infinity...experience rapture. One is truly blessed if these moments come again and again. But…even one thin slice of awe...can make all the difference in the world.

* * *

Four souls once swept me in, and the awe…the rapture…will not, will never let me go.

* * *

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Paean To Poetry

I love poetry. I really do. I love poetry the way Mopsy loved flowers.

I revere the poets who, wielding few words, punch me square in the gut. There are poems that I’ve read hundreds, if not thousands, of times. The words, the phrasing, the thoughts and emotions weave themselves into my neural network and…change me.

I turn to poetry for wisdom and solace. I return to my favorite poems to feel find myself again. To relive my life, at times.

This evening, I felt the need to return, once again, to this poem:

Where You Go When She Sleeps
By T. R. Hummer

What is it when a woman sleeps, her head bright
In your lap, in your hands, her breath easy now as though it had never been
Anything else, and you know she is dreaming, her eyelids
Jerk, but she is not troubled, it is a dream
That does not include you, but you are not troubled either,
It is too good to hold her while she sleeps, her hair falling
Richly on your hands, shining like metal, a color
That when you think of it you cannot name, as though it has just
Come into existence, dragging you into the world in the wake
Of its creation, out of whatever vacuum you were in before,
And you are like the boy you heard of once who fell
Into a silo full of oats, the silo emptying from below, oats
At the top swirling in a gold whirlpool, a bright eddy of grain, the boy,
You imagine, leaning over the edge to see it, the noon sun breaking
Into the center of the circle he watches, hot on his back, burning
And he forgets his father’s warning, stands on the edge, looks down,
The grain spinning, dizzy, and when he falls his arms go out, too thin
For wings, and he hears his father’s cry somewhere, but is gone
Already, down in the gold sea, spun deep in the heart of the silo,
And when they find him, his mouth, his throat, his lungs
Full of the gold that took him, he lies still, not seeing the world
Through his body but through the deep rush of the grain
Where he has gone and can never come back, though they drag him
Out, his father’s tears bright on both their faces, the farmhands
Standing by blank and amazed – you touch that unnamable
Color in her hair and you are gone into what is not fear or joy
But a whirling of sunlight and water and air full of shining dust
That takes you, a dream that is not of you but will let you
Into itself if you love enough, and will not, will never let you go.

* * *

I am that man. I am that boy. I’ve lived this poem.

* * *

(I hope to live it again)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Death, in its varied fearsome manifestations, shrouded my eyes from the sun. It made me ponder if the Fates are prone to revel in irony.
Hard to tell with the Fates.

I felt myself drifting into melancholy as the weekend approached.
The calendar date roused slumbering sorrows. It was a birth date. But, sadly, it was more than that. My heart was celebrating the birthday of a once-grand passion (the grandest?)…all the while aware that the selfsame date denotes the subsequent bitter death of that very passion.

My poor heart began the day smiling through tears.

Lost in bittersweet melancholy, I administered to my morning obligations. Mopsy the breakfast bowl. I knew immediately. I knew her body had forsaken her. I hadn’t expected that. I hadn’t prepared. This could not be the day, the date and time, for her to leave. It could not be…No! NO! It must not be!

But…it was.

I spent the day awash in tears. Mopsy clung to me. She was restless, no doubt feeling discomfort as her organs inexorably faltered, then failed. She would stagger to me, and I would hold her in my arms or my lap. When she found it difficult to breathe, she would let me know she wanted to return to the cool floor. I would lift her to the ground, and she would press her body against my feet, seeking respite and solace. We were virtually inseparable this day and the next.

My sorrow grew deeper. Pain bled from every pore.

I was witness to the departure of a pure soul. Say what you will about animals, when they love, they love absolutely. Would that we humans loved the same! Wave on wave…grief overwhelmed.

Too many hearts that once loved me have disappeared, one by one, over the course of these past two years. I relived each loss again…and wept…my tears spattering about Mopsy's mortal coil. She paid no heed. Her eyes betrayed that she was beyond noticing. Strange how Mopsy’s last days mirrored and echoed my Mother’s demise. We aged mammals tend to expire in similar ways, with similar symptoms and familiar consequences. I grieved for both souls...not for any flaws or failings, but for the beauties lost.

Mopsy survived the night, but woke locked in Death’s remorseless embrace. We spent our last few hours together, Mopsy, Death and I…and I pondered, sorrowfully pondered, the deaths of marriages, passions, parents and pets. Too many loves and lives have perished,
lately, leaving me an orphan.

I’m adrift in a sea of melancholy.

* * *

We are tethered to the earth, to our very lives, by the love of others, the presence and influence of others. One hopes the tethers are fine-spun gossamer. Would that we were all bound by beauty, love and tenderness!

Sometimes, though, the tethers chafe and cut…their coarse natures hurt and strangle. I’ve been tethered in many ways, by many souls. I’ve no complaints. After all, I chose my tethers. I was a slave to love…a slave to duty…and I paid the price.

One by one, heartache after heartache, death after death, my tethers have been torn loose or tossed aside. I am cast adrift in a sea of melancholy. Death, in its fearsome manifestations, shrouds my eyes from the sun.

I am free.

* * *

At A Window
By Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

* * *

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Place to Rest

I buried Mopsy under an old spruce tree. The depth of my grief caught me by surprise (but I’ll leave the reasons why for a later entry).

We spent our last day together sitting outside in the sunshine…a skeletal cat and a graying man, sharing a sunbeam or two. Mopsy always wanted to be outside. Although she spent her adult years as an indoor housecat (i.e., pampered prisoner), indulged and loved, the call of the wild filled her ears incessantly. To her, Nature was Heaven (as long as she could have her favorite meals and a warm bed to snuggle into as well). She became most adept at streaking through a partially open door, hell bent on burying her face in the grass, sniffing the aromatic breezes, and chasing after any moving thing. Oh, how she loved being outside on sunny days, curled against my feet, basking in sunshine and friendly zephyrs!

I had to carry her outside this last afternoon. She was too weak to struggle past the threshold and outside steps on her own. She collapsed across the cool concrete and drew comfort from that. We both knew that our life together was palpably slipping away. She struggled to reach me. I picked her up and held her in my lap. I was too grief struck to speak. She was too weak to raise her head.

A few hours later, she was gone…taking with her one of the few unsullied pieces of my heart still left.

* * *

Every home I’ve ever inhabited (that came with a plot of land, that is) has a pet (or two…or three) buried there. I’ve dug more than a few graves in my time.

This dolorous gravedigger went about his business on a hot, sunny Tuesday. It’s true you know…that phrase: “heavy heart.” My heart, so burdened with tears and grief, grew ponderous and burdensome within my chest, pressed heavily against my diaphragm, strangled each breath.

I began to dig.

I didn’t want Mopsy to have a shallow grave. No, I wanted her to have a peaceful resting place. I wanted her to rest deep within the rich earth, sheltered from the snow and rain.

I dug deeper. And deeper still.

I dearly loved all the animal souls that brightened my life. I truly did. Even so, I think I loved Mopsy the most. I know it’s not fair to compare one soul to another but, still, I can’t deny it…Mopsy’s soul was special. And so it felt natural…proper…essential…to prepare
her place of rest with the utmost care.

I always knew where I would bury her, whenever that day would come. I dug her grave beneath the canopy of the old Blue Spruce that grew majestically towards the sky. The Spruce extends her reach at least thirty feet across. Mopsy would rest beneath the protective limbs of this wise old tree, home to birds and squirrels galore, and now the sentinel and stalwart protector of the star-bright soul resting at her feet.

I dug a roomy grave about three feet deep into the thick, black soil.
I carved away the clayey dirt to form a perfect grave, straight-sided, deep and lovingly carved.

I collected fresh-cut grass clippings to line her grave. I wanted her to have a soft bed of the sweet grass she loved so much…devoured with such relish. Yes. Mopsy would sleep on the softest and sweetest of beds.

I lowered her body onto the bed, her place of rest. I gave her a blanket of grass to comfort her, then scattered a bouquet of fresh daisies over all (for you see, Mopsy had a thing for flowers).

Earth was returned to earth, and this most endearing of souls disappeared within.

* * *

As I said, Mopsy had a thing for flowers. I mean…she REALLY loved flowers.

One discovers certain verities when entwined with another soul.
It was a verity that, whenever flowers were brought into the home (a frequent practice), Mopsy HAD to thrust her face into each blossom. She would inhale deeply, probing each bloom with the tenacity of a bumblebee.

She would proceed to devour her favorite.

Another verity: Within one hour, I would hear a crash and splash. Although the details varied (toppled vase on dining room table…coffee table…end table…kitchen counter…bathroom counter…window sill...), Mopsy was always there, a mere foot or two away, calmly licking a fluffy paw. She would stop, mid-lick, to gaze into my eyes quizzically: “Did something happen? Did I miss anything?”
She personified innocence…innocence belied by a golden-yellow, pollinated muzzle. Never failed.

Mopsy really had a thing for flowers.

* * *

And to you, Dear Reader, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks.
I sought repose in silence these past two weeks, but your kind thoughts and warm support meant a great deal to me…more than
I can express.

Thank you.

* * *

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