Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Long Way Round

By Jorie Graham

Evening. Not quite. High winds again.
                                                                        I have time, my time, as you also do, there, feel
                                                                        it. And a heart, my heart, as you do,
remember it. Also am sure of things, there are errands, this was a voyage, one
                                                                        has an ordained part to play....This will turn out to be
                                                                        not true
but is operative here for me this evening as the dusk settles. One has to believe
                                                                        furthermore in the voyage of others. The dark
                                                                        gathers. It is advancing but there is no
progress. It is advancing with its bellyful of minutes. It seems to chew as it
                                                                        darkens. There was, in such a time, in addition,
an obligation to what we called telling
                                                                        the truth. We
                                                                        the feeling
                                                                        of it—truth—whatever we mean by it—I can still
feel it in my gaze, tonight, long after it is gone, that finding of all the fine discriminations,
                                                                        the edges, purse holding the goods, snap shut, there
you got it, there, it is yours it is true—hold on to it as
                                                                        light thins
                                                                        holding the lavender in its heart, firm, slow, beginning to
hide it, to steal it, to pretend it never had
                                                                        existence. At the window, I stand spell-
bound. Your excellency the evening, I begin. What is this trickiness. I am passing
                                                                        through your checkpoint to a nation that is
disappearing, is disappearance. My high-ceilinged room (I look
                                                                        up) is going to survive
                                                                        for the while longer we
                                                                        have the means
to keep it. I look at the pools of light in it. The carpet shining-up its weave—
burgundy, gold, aqua, black. It is an emergency actually, this waking and doing and
cleaning up afterwards, & then sleep again, & then up you go, the whole 15,000 years of
the inter-
                                                                        glacial period, & the orders & the getting done &
the getting back in time & the turning it back on, & did you remember, did you pass, did
you lose the address again, didn't the machine spit it up, did you follow the machine—
yes, yes, did, & the
                                                                        wall behind it
                                                                        pronounced the large bush then took it
back. I can almost summon it. Like changing a tense. I peer back through this time to
                                                                        that one. You will not believe it
                                                                        when the time
comes. Also how we mourned our dead—had
                                                                        ample earth, took time, opened it, closed
                                                                        it—"our earth, our
                                                                        dead" we called
                                                                        them, & lived
bereavement, & had strict understanding of defeat and victory....Evening,
                                                                        what are the betrayals that are left,
                                                                        and whose? I ask now
as the sensation of what is coming places its shoulders on the whole horizon, I see it
                                                                        though it is headless, intent
                                                                        fuzzy, possible outcomes
unimaginable. You have your imagination, says the evening. It is all you have
                                                                        left, but its neck is open, the throat is
cut, you have forgotten how to sing, or to want
                                                                        to sing. It is
                                                                        strange but you still
                                                                        need to tell
your story—how you met, the coat one wore, the shadow of which war, and how it lifted,
                                                                        and how peace began again
                                                                        for that part of
the planet, & the first Spring after your war, & how "life" began again, what
                                                                        normal was—thousands of times
                                                                        you want to say this—normal—holding another's
hand—& the poplars when you saw how much they had grown while you were
                                                                        the height of them! & the paper lantern you were
                                                                        given to hold—the lightness of it, of its
fire, how it lit the room—it was your room—you were alone in it and free to sleep
                                                                        without worry and to
dream—winter outside and the embroidered tablecloth—fruit and water—you didn't
even wonder where was the tree that gave such fruit, you lay in blankets as if they were
non-existent, heat was a given, the rain coming down hard now, what a nice sound—you
could ruminate, the mind traveled back in those days, at ease, it recalled the evening's
                                                                        versation, the light that fell on x's face, how he
turned when a certain person entered the room—you saw him turn—saw shyness then
jealousy enter his eyes as he looked away—and did he see you see him—and the em-
broidered linen handkerchief you saw a frightened woman in the subway slide from her
pocket, use and replace—then sleep was near—somewhere you were a child and then this
now, nightfall and ease, hospitality—
                                                                        there are sounds the planet will always make, even
if there is no one to hear them.

From 'Sea Change'

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