“He who can go to the fountain does not got to the water-jar.”
—–Leonardo da Vinci
The right hand pocket of the bag slouches open—-racquets protruding like some sick surreal Freudian statement. Dirty white grips with the vague odor of human sweat extend at various angles in defiance of Pythagorus. The bag sagging on one side from the weight of the sticks. A pair of used-to-be yellow balls in repose adjacent to the bag on the grit of the green clay. A third one has attempted escape to the far baseline. A lone frame has found its demise six feet from the bag, a large twisted spaghetti strainer resting across the mini-trench it formed with its final moments. The surrounding air still sizzles from the verbal expulsions of the destroyed racquet’s human assassin.
It was “just a game” like so many other matches on so many other days, and yet…. The emotional and psychological thicket those glib words camouflage make Stanley’s trek toward Livingston slide into historical insignificance. The murderer walks the streets without malice, is beloved by friends and family, and seldom ventures beyond the boundaries of propriety, and yet… Well compensated, praised, even honored by colleagues, the game has exposed a fire in the player that often becomes a conflagration.
A third double fault hard on the heels of a migratory forehand finding a home six feet beyond the baseline proves to be steel that strikes the flint in the player’s soul and generates a spark that detonates emotional plastique. The explosion is transformative. Self-worth is no longer bonded to true identity. Rather, in a quantum leap worth and worthlessness are to be found in the outcome of relatively meaningless physical interactions with inert contrived instruments of “recreation.”
Recovery from the dark hole of imagined lost worth requires much less time than the changing of the tides. Order will be restored, worth reconstructed with a screaming forehand return of serve that explodes the sideline and defies the speed of the opponent. Yet Dr. Freud’s statement has been made as the mangled racquet is interred in the court side trash can.
“The past is such a big place.”
—–Neil Young, Waging Heavy Peace
“I am not deeply versed in physical science, but there are certain things about water that fill me with wonder and amaze.”
—- H. G. Wells
“It is not down in any map, true places never are.”
—- Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Old tears are heavy like spent uranium rounds for a 40 mm chain gun. They have a half life of a million years. They are sprung from wells that reach to the far side of the womb of all life. The echo of their fall roils the waters of existence into waves of meaning grinding pain into the beaches of peace.
Old tears wash gullies into the bedrock of souls who have witnessed more than sunsets. Old rodeo posters make ancient bucking bulls cry cold old tears for torn cowboys who rose with dust scarred bodies and broken dreams from unremembered 8 second wars. All wore the clothes of defeat.
Old tears pour from each rock struck by every would be Moses after their verbal expulsions send yet another entranced dreamer into a mislabeled valley of hope. Old tears flood those deep slits with the heavy water of remorse and disillusion. No reservation required.
Old tears float weathered wooden boats carrying fishermen beyond fear colored horizons in search of one more net filled with immortality. The white whale swam in old tears. He cried them for Ahab.
Old tears fill watering holes in hot stinking valleys of death where nearly forgotten cuirassiers’ horses wander over heroes’ bodies from Platea, Ypres, Dunkirk, Saipan, Ia Drang, and other lost human efforts. The holes never go dry. The clouds rain old tears.
Old tears dry into the diamond hard foundation mothers perch their children on. Formed into crystalline jeweler’s loops that magnify the hope for a future they focus the light of the mothers’ souls into laser beams of purpose. All mothers’ tears are old. They taste and smell like eternity.
“He says that he comes from a place not far from Guanajuato
That’s two days on a bus from here, a lifetime from this room.”
—–Robert Earl Keen, “Mariano”
The Ronin nurses the final wound and watches.
Hawks and crows. What does it mean when they are together? Do hawks own the air or do crows own the ground from the air? Predator vs. scavenger? Monarch v. jester? Do they live like pleasure and pain, health and illness? At times the morning mirror reflects Horus, god-like, eternal master of the sky; seeing everything from the cloud populated heavens and imagining that all seek shelter from our descent of conquest as we feast on life. Then comes evening and the dark mocking sound of life at a lower altitude; Corvus needing Horus’ leftovers when the altitude of life is history; the ground too close and littered with the scraps of memory from the power of the past.
Thus the Hawk perpetually attacks the Crow seeking to exploit the day and avoid living with the alternative reality. The Crow never retreats and defends with the persistence of time itself. Eternal aerial combat, symbiotic necessity.
Do you hide them? Do you wear them like a badge of honor? Do you own them like a scarlet letter?
We all have them.
They are not all visible to the public.
They beg questions: when, where, how did they appear?
What or who do they bind us to?
They hurt when they’re fresh. They let you predict the weather.
They never let you forget.
Do you pick at them or own them as if they were a messy pet who showed up on the stoop and you kept?
How often do you use the time machine that they fuel?
The old man spit, sucked another mouthful of the PBR, put his finger on a dead, white, gully on the underside of his left forearm, swallowed, and rasped, “Got this in ’59; hurt like hell.” He drifted into the whirlpool of his memory.
“Don’t remember why we started; maybe . . . maybe doesn’t matter anymore. The place burned down long time back. They never rebuilt it. Pieces just keep fallin’ into the bay. A body can see more at low tide.”
Do you try to hide them?
How deep and old are they?
Do they mark regret, triumph, or just carelessness?
The girl stared at the ring, touched it, tried to unfurl it from her finger. Salt water rolled down her memory. “Is this what forever feels like?” This one is deep, old, but still pink and sharp.
Are they echoes in your psyche or shouts in your soul?
Do they speak to you in the scalding shadeless noon hour?
Do they whisper through the midnight wasteland of your dreams?
Are they your play-by-play record as you keep score?
There are six of them, like small reminders of a bout with a low calibre machine gun stitching a line across the man’s abdomen. They will endure until his last breath, an outward scoreboard for a losing match. The surgery they remember did not cure the illness. There will be deep, creeping, growing scars never seen by those in the room. They will force beautiful memories in someone’s forever.
May 17, 2018
Jacob fought the angel, to what avail? To bring the frigid, nocturnal image of John Calvin down the ladder to block the channels leading to salvation? To siphon life’s joy into a distillation center where all is reduced to sin? Not even the medieval alchemists were able to achieve such a feat!
Senior Honors Night and the valedictorians hold forth giving meaning to their recent past and hoped for future. Thirty-six of these have marked an equal number of trips around the sun. How do the remembered battles (triumphs and defeats) etch themselves into our ever tattering souls? Do we become One-eyed Jacks in the deck of our time where our worst scars are never on display?
How much of the night do the one-eyed see? Is their focus so narrow they can find the worm hole into a solitary eternal truth or reality? So are these Jacks as flawed as appearances argue? Perhaps, but perhaps they are the Messiah. Must the chosen ones be sacrificed on the cold shoals of Calvin’s dark coast merely because they sail against the wind and tide
Will this night be a remembered peace or join the flotsam of experiences generated by the typhoons of later life? The sadness and frustration of unrealized hope forming a hard scar never to be separated by storm or port? Pain never eased by time The Healer?
And so we reef the sails for the night.
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Head of St. George's Independent School, Travel Novice, Folk Art Fan, Guitar Hack
HISTORY IN HONOR OF THE BOSS
Doing History After Leaving the Classroom