august 16 2005
and i went out behind the building tonight, alone after dark on the grounds. and sometimes these moments are better as moments, so i didn't intend to be out there for long. first i sat on the lawn, i looked at the moon, i listened to the insect drone inside the treeline. i laid down on the grass and tried to see stars. no stars to be seen, light pollution fading night out at the hinges. i sat back up and walked to the labyrinth.
walked the labyrinth by the light of the moon.
and how every sound you make walking fills up after dark, fills up to overflowing, scattering your tenuous privacy all over the ground. a half step scoff in the daylight becomes a thundering serial of dramatic crunches alone in the dark. i walked the labyrinth as softly, then, as i could. on tiptoe. on soft heel. bowing into each step. and i reached center and i looked at the moon. and every surface blue and velvet, i thought of the concern i'd brought up at the labyrinth's start and checked to see if i had an answer. nothing yet, i supposed it might be waiting for when i'd walked back out of the labyrinth, i mean that's the other part of walking into a labyrinth: walking back out.
so i did that and checked again to see if my answer had arrived in some moon-beam certainty i could smugly cite in subsequent retellings of this experience, maybe publish a few self-help books about how deciding you will find your answer will bring your answer to you, indeed? or, at least, asking for an answer will bring it to you even if you're kinda thinking a little bit harder about navigating the labyrinth in the dark without a lot of crunching noises. so i exited the labyrinth: no answer. so instead of finding my answer, i gathered a few more questions to press between your pages, then turned from the labyrinth in the hopes of finding fireflies.
see, fourth of july, last year, walking back to our car after fireworks, we walked through this meadow in a surprisingly ancient feeling section of bartlett and the brushline, the treeline, any bit of foliage cover, even thickets of grass in the open field, just alive, just alight, just swirling and pulsing with fireflies. and it was dark and the trees, like heavy clouds, throbbing with light. deep space nebula. a hard swallow of galaxies. and i wanted to fall down, i wanted to lie dreaming at the side of the path. but sometimes a moment is better as a moment so instead i just kept walking and think of those fireflies still.
here, now, i wondered if i might find a firefly cluster weeks out past the edge of that season. so i walked to the treeline where they do not keep the bees, but the only flickers there were houselights severed from easy answers by many layers of breeze-touched foliage. i wonder if there might not be too much residence, there, too close by, for firefly colonies; but still i stand in a hollow, marveling at the assumptions the mind makes at an anomaly in ground cover after dark. then i turn and walk for the wooded patch with the bees. can hear them humming in there, unless that is electrical, unless it is just me, hearing something unexpected about this moment. unresolved ancestors. past lives. past the hives there's an evergreen, past the evergreen i slip into the treeline again and look up. think, again, about sudden revelations and life altering epiphanies, the miraculous moment when it all becomes clear.
here i am.
alone in the forest at night. let it happen. let her rip. cicadas and crickets. at the property line the highway speeds by i brush my hand over my face at the tickle of a hair: maybe i don't have enough faith in the universe for this? where did i go wrong?
at the mary shrine i find her offering bowl wet and tipped over so i straighten it out, then stand for mary, rest my hand on her face, press my forehead to hers. what can i do? i silently think the hail mary to myself, but good lord, that must be like joking "it's free!" to a retail employee about merchandise that's lost its sticker, it's been done so many times the only response left remains a deep sigh and i don't know that there's a further comparison there. someone's saying a rosary somewhere. right now. ten years out from now. nineteen. twenty. it's like breathing for her, maybe, maybe not such a bad thing. now and at the hour of our deaths, amen.
from mary i head back into the trees. the light is strange. the grass is gold and dappled like waves. the trees are black and cast long shadow. electric yellow light, there's a kind of aura about it, aura to presence as shadow to manifestation: if i have any revelation at all, it is here. i feel solid, calm, peaceful. it is a moment. maybe not the moment, but a moment. an estranged friend comes to mind, approaching the four year anniversary of that heartbreak. she ended our friendship a couple days after my twenty-sixth birthday. i understand, calmly, that the moment i've just had is not a moment she and i could have processed together. i understand something more removed and complicated about our chemistries, our priorities, about what started making me so uncomfortable around her near the end. "she wouldn't have got it right anyways," that's one version, a bitter one, one made all the more difficult by the fact that i wasn't getting it right, either. both of us were to blame and neither of us were. maybe that's what i've been fighting, all this time.
in that moment, in that stillness. having made this offering, this unstructured ritual, for someone and something else entirely, i made peace with her departure. i made a kind of peace with it. anyway, i let it fall away. for a moment. maybe it is holding? there is no black and white in these things, even a dark night has more of a blue velvet quality to it, haloed, occasionally, in gold. four years would be enough of this, i prompt myself, gently. four years combined is longer than we spent in a mostly happy, mostly functioning friendship. maybe the anger is gone. maybe the anger has just faded out: but i am understanding, this time, that there isn't going back. we don't blend. we don't compliment. we weren't understanding, and we wouldn't have got it right, anyway.