These are fierce times for those in chains, as well as for those called free. Go outside while dawn is still a passing rumor. Close your eyes and pay attention. It is not difficult to sense the intensity at the heart of the moment. You listen for the rebuttal, but you hear only the silent verdict, and the gavel slammed. You look for someone who loves you to raise an objection, but you don’t hold out much hope. Blindfolded and strapped to the condemned man’s seat, you cannot see the masked phantom woman tasked with your sentencing. Inwardly you plead more fervently than you ever have, that you might feel and know the unwavering presence of your Creator, but you feel only the tightening chains around your wrists as she stands you up, binds your hands behind your back, and drags you up the stone-strewn hill to your execution. Your crime, she tells you, was failure to yield to the real, to surrender your despair in her field where all cares disappear.
These are troublesome times for coupled-in and singled out alike. How can I uncover my union with God and the other in this unrelenting solitude? How can she recover her heaven-sent solitude with God through earth-bound union with the other? I would rather have her here to hold and comfort me on this last cold morning of November, and in the many cold mornings to come. Instead, I have only this stubborn wood that has caught fire, finally. But I am not comforted. I am bundled but buffeted. I walk outside and feel the wind rushing in; it cuts through my many threadbare coats to the raw skin.
What is real? What is real is I have steeled myself against Life, and now nothing alive can get in, and nothing alive can get out.
What is real is Mother Nature abhors a vacuum, and so I have become abhorrent to her, and what can I do but buckle under the weight of her hatred. Who can I be but my tainted double, who huddles in the corner I’ve painted myself in.` Who among the cornered wouldn’t call it a blessing to be turned to dust by such an untouched divinity. Who divides the land from the sea. Who clamps this powerless body onto the rack of Time and shoves the wooden frame into the straightjacket of straightforward decay. Who surveys with indifference this chamber of tortured diffidence, within which I feel more like these stone walls each passing day.
What is real? If I become cemented within these cemented stone walls, if I become hard and demented and silent like you, guarded and impenetrable and violent like you, will you love me then? If what I make with this pen gives you glory, though I myself feel no joy in what I have done, will you love me then? Blend me into your beauty. I want to be inside you. I want to be inside my experience inside you. I want to stop this lie I am trying so hard to make true, but I do not know how to slide through my fenced self and arrive, undefended, onto the vast plain within me that embraces you. I want to make this aching stop forever, and I want to let it make me new. I want and want forever, until my wanting is my only reason for being. I want to hear from you.
But what is real is I am tied too tightly to the way I feel to hear the truth that abides beyond thought and feeling. I am gripping the wheel with all my strength, but the ship is anchored to the shore. All a man can do, who is not free to be, is pace like that poet’s panther inside its cell, where it has steeled itself against what its life has become. Nothing alive can get in, and nothing alive can get out.
These are trying times
for the accusers and the accused alike.
We act as if we could choose
to play the tyrant now
and his servant later,
but we are all always subject.
We all get roped in time,
tied in knots, hung-up
on gallows of disdain,
in shallow dungeons,
bereft, unhinged, no one left