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So high, you can’t get over it,
So low, you can’t get under it,
So wide, you can’t get around it,
Gotta go through that door.
Traitional spiritual, "Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham"
There was no pain, no fear, no strobing lights.
Asleep, I think I was. I remember reading
in my bed ‘till late my last night
on God’s earth.
No life’s tale flashed before my eyes.
No recreation of my soggy birth.
Just another waking
than the one I’d been expecting
when my copy of "I, Robot"
to the floor.
I’m glad I’d read it twice (or more).
I’d hate to part with partial plots in progress
eternally unknown, uncracked
left on the far, warm side
of death’s dim door.
Nothing but a gentle waking
in a place I’d never seen before.
A meadow, bathed in sunlight, bright
as any concrete day. No, nothing like a dream.
As real as Massachusetts on afternoon in May.
Tall grass swayed, pale green and paler yellow
in a gentle, cooling breeze.
I may have heard a stream.
And though I was “myself,” as much as I had ever been,
I sensed I was more solid,
approaching something much more whole.
No heart churned blood and no guts rolled
the daily bread and daily wine to calories and shit.
My right knee didn’t ache. I didn’t itch,
and should have itched
from pollen in the air. I just felt
not owned by "this and such"
and "which? what? what?"
"what time? what place?
where? where to be and who to see
and what exactly do I need,
I need to be?"
Is this how trees feel?
Moist dirt wrapped in years of work,
worming downward to achieve a vital grip
on earthly, dark foundations. Lurking,
then bearing up their branches, leaves and fruit
on the lip of heaven’s dome?
Dirt or sky? Earth or air?
Which do the ancient forest lords call "home?"
As I stood and felt this strangely dense
and solid, self-defining sense
of self and mind
I sensed another presence in the grass behind
me, and I turned and saw a tallish man,
not unlike me. Past his middle age,
a kind and smiling mouth. Hair thinning,
face tanned by what looked to be a life spent working
in the sun. That kind of face.
Not one you would remember
if he sat next to you at the mall.
He spoke, then, saying, "You aren’t all
here yet. It takes time,
a little time, to get adjusted.
What you’re feeling..."
"I feel fine," I interrupted.
His smile tipped a bit, into something
maybe sad. Maybe knowing.
Then he asked,
"Do you know what Paul said?
About 'seeing through a glass?'"
"'You’re not all here.' What does that mean?"
I cut in once again. "Is that some kind of crack?"
He shook his head and tried to get us back
to what he’d said before.
"In this place, the little that we knew,
what we once saw dimly, darkly...
now is clear as..."
He stooped to pick a blade of grass,
handed it to me, and said,
"As this is 'green" to you."
Annoying. Riddles. Metaphors.
I wanted... answers. Wanted
"What am I supposed to do
with this?" I asked,
shaking the grass
right in his face. But even as I did
I felt his words
were what he was
supposed to say.
They were [his] in some [right way],
just as the grass was green and yellow,
sky blue, and now
(I noticed), tinged with hints of grey.
He shrugged, and turned to walk away.
"Face to face," he murmured.
"You have much less time
than what we used to call one day."
And as he turned to go,
I thought I saw a shadow in his eyes:
a boy of nine or ten, a blue-grey sky
who let a tire-swing slip and fly
knock down a little blonde girl just for fun
who’d been standing, laughing, by
the tree and he
thought it would be a lark to see
she fell and hit her head just
from life and school and family
but never [eternally never]
never from his memory
He smiled again.
"Yes. Just like that," he said. "But more. Oh, more."
He turned his back on me. I swore
beneath my breath,
for the image of the little girl was clear as...
and yellow burns the fields of hay,
and water in the air makes skies go blue
on sunny summer days.
He walked away.
And at his side I thought I saw a little girl
with laughing eyes and white-blonde hair,
just there, beside him, as he slipped beyond the world’s
soft edge. Her little hand. His, large and strong.
Two and one together,
they were gone.
How could he bear to have her near him here?
Where everything is ruthlessly, damn clear?
She must have seen what I saw. Though he looked now
the middle-aged man
the boy he’d been had grown into. Back then,
before her life began,
when his thoughtless, stupid push
had doomed her to this place so young.
How could she stand to look him in the face?
How could he calmly walk beside her?
Showing not a trace
or even some embarrassment.
I didn’t understand. Couldn’t know just what it meant.
The quote from First Corinthians. "Now face to face?"
The man? The girl? Both here, together, in this place?
And then I felt them… all the people just outside my range
of sight. I could hear their thoughts a bit. And, strangely, knew
that if I tried, I could see their sins
and flaws. Nothing they could do
about it. Everything so open here.
Betrayals large and small, floating on that gentle breeze.
How she cheated on him with her brother. Now the three
are here, together. I can see them, there, approaching.
A thousand others, too.
Linked by memory and doom.
Will they come and talk to me?
Do I want them to?
What am I supposed to do
with all these images, these thoughts?
Confessions stirring from their minds,
what is my purpose here?
What if I find
someone that I knew…
The grass is greener, now, than when I first awoke.
The sky more blue. The wind more… wind?
Like something made more solid, less like smoke.
A woman steps out of the fog of thoughts and she approaches,
holding out her hand. I don’t know her. Why should she…
the lights are turned down low, the basement smells of beer
there’s a shitload of pot smoke just floating ‘round in here
she still hasn’t moved my hand off of her knee
I think maybe she maybe yeah maybe likes me
she’s just drunk enough to ignore all my flaws
I’m just sober enough to take off her bra
she struggles a little, but that was the way
that girls were taught how to say “Yes,” in those days…
I shut down my mind. Did she see? Is it her?
Or her daughter? Her mother? Her younger sister?
That was so long ago.
reaching for me.
If I touch her
there’s no telling
what else she might see.
I can feel them all, now. All of them wanting to know.
What did I do? Who with? Where did I go?
Why do they care? Why should they see
anything about anything?
I just want to be
So I sat down and stared
at the grass. Nothing shown.
At the green, green, green grass
in this evergreen yard.
When I hear voices, now,
I can shut them down
They pass by me constantly.
I feel them here, still.
Blocking them out takes an effort of will
such that I can’t raise my eyes anymore.
I sit on the grass and I hope for no more
than those days when there are
just a few fewer souls
walking around me while taking their strolls.
Their thoughts still leak through.
I can’t help it, I guess.
I’ll get better with time, though.
I’d better. Unless
I get stronger,
unless I maintain
they’ll get up inside me.
And that’s just more pain
than I’m able to handle.
So I’ll stay inside.
It’s hell out there, people.
And I’ve got my pride.
I’m fine here.
Those assholes can’t reach me, you see?
I know who I am.
And they’ll never break me.
I blog irregularly at TinkerX. I'm also on Twitter. @andyhavens, go figure.