At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, September 26, 2011

Toys Breaking

They’ve been breaking all week long. To understand what I mean by that, one must understand the meaning of this:

"For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break."
These are the last lines of a poem by John Frederick Nims. It happens to be a poem I first encountered in a college poetry class some forty years ago. I was charmed from the gitgo. Enchanted by the wit and wry humor. It lodged inside me and stayed.

This poem has stayed with me because, beneath the clever, it speaks to a deep Truth: We love others, not for their perfections, not at all, but for their good hearts.

Four decades ago, as a mere stripling, I kinda sensed the Truth of it. Forty years later, I’ve lived it.

We love the loving heart and the kind soul. We revere the gentle and the generous for these are rare breeds. Rarely (ever?) do they come wrapped in manifest blessings, prowess or beauty. Rarely would a casual bystander describe them as “Perfect.”

But they are. Imperfect though they may be, beautifully flawed though they are, they are perfect in the Joy they bring to another.

* * *


My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing

Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.

Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before red apoplectic streetcars---
Misfit in any space. And never on time.

A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease.
In traffic of wit expertly manoeuvre
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.

Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love’s unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses---
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.

* * *

* * *

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Falling Apart

Tried to keep it together
Smiled forced smiles

Waved to my neighbors
Cooked tasteless dinner

Went through the motions
Drank me some wine

Amazing Woman lies dying
Hourglass empty

I lost it
Lost everything

Went through the motions
Ashes and dust

* * *

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Blood, Sweat and Tears

The hourglass has been put to good metaphorical use for centuries. Why not? It works. If we consider each grain of sand a minute, hour, day, month or year, we can visualize the passage of time. We understand the general notion deep within our cerebella.

I visualize the hourglass differently today. I see heartbeats falling to silence.

Amazing Woman is dying. And this process of dying, in her case, is gruesome. There are too few feeble heartbeats left. Not that I can be close enough to place ear to breast to hear, or kiss her hand in solace, but no distance is too far or too great to keep a heart from feeling another.

I find myself counting heartbeats, marking each with a tear.

I cried my way through the day today.

I was crying as I straddled the saddle of my bicycle. Not that it was a good day to ride, it wasn’t. It had rained all morning. The storm front passed, shoved aside by a cold north wind. Any other day, I would have gazed out the window and simply marveled at the ferocity. Not today. Today, I wanted to feel that raw be mercilessly lashed.

I wanted to ride as long and as far as my body could bear. I wanted to ride to exhaustion. I wanted, needed, to feel physical pain the way a tormented soul gouges at a forearm with a razor to displace heartache and torment with blood.

I rode longer and farther than I ever had. I rode straight into that wind. Felt it drive the tears and sweat into my eyes and simply let them burn. Head drooping from exhaustion, feet numb, neck, shoulders and forearms aching, calves on fire, hamstrings cramping, I rode.

The sweat went dry long before the tears.

So spent I was upon return that I collapsed astride the bike. Blood commingled with sweat and tears.

It was not enough.

* * *

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