The nights don’t get easier. They are still as lethal to illusion as ever. Lethal too to every truth that rings false to the hooded Ruler who demands obedience to their dominant mood. The heart weakens under the spell of their dark magic. She can’t recall a single hour when she felt glad or at ease. The skin forgets what it feels like to be touched by the rays of the sun. And wasn’t the whole body once touched, held in an embrace the sun itself had to envy, since she didn’t know what the moon knew, she wasn’t witness to the two lovers entwined in each other’s arms beneath the stars? What comes as a gift comes with so much more than strings attached. Comes like a strange ship to a new land, to bestow trinkets of silver and gold and then to pillage and slaughter and traumatize the native soil and the native souls. What comes as a gift comes with the knowledge, whether affirmed or denied, that it will not last. The expiration date is unreadable, but it is certainly there, smudged on the bottom of the glass bottle. It is all a man can do to hold fast to a few ancient lines. Blessed are those who mourn. Sorrow is better than laughter. But worst are the nights when tears do not come, when the face stays frozen in a grim posture of joyless resolve. So let the tears come, and let them burn clean. Not to make the nights any easier, but to give them over to what is real. For it was not too long ago we held each other in an embrace we forced the sun to envy, and now each of us is alone, each and every night. And only tears, in all their wordless power, acknowledge the truth this knowledge brings.
It is painful
what a thirty-year-old man
Grant me the faith to believe that Life is stronger than death, and Love deeper than hate. Let me never abdicate my house to the hungry thieves that would rob each room of its particular treasure, and curse the one who lives inside as worthless, no more than an empty purse, a justly abandoned figure on a severed fragment of scorched earth. Let the figure refuse the facile fabrication of an identity based on feelings of uselessness and ugliness, but rather let these feelings pass. Let them move through the physical body like a river, however muddied, moves through a canyon, rather than harden into a dam of mind-made steel. O God, Creator of all that is good and real, without whom there can be no unity, let the faint beginnings of light seep through the cracks of my divided self and thaw the ice congealing in my heart. Bring me back continually to the depths of your peace in the present moment, and do not let your sun come up over the hill to shine through my window while I am lost in a state of war, with myself or with the world. Let me face each state, whether familiar and painful or strange and painless, with courage and compassion. Do not let me act from an unconsidered sense of lack, but let me look directly through that hole, like one whose right eye through the tiny lens of a telescope sees with a jolt the vast sky lit up at night, limitless and unimaginable.
Let the darkness of a solitary night unbind the chains and find the hidden pain in my deepest heart, the weeping son given all but that sole food his soul is starving for.
I wake in the evenings in this season of my life, an hour or two after the sun has gone down. I sit at the desk at night, and I lie back down as the sun climbs up the sky. I wake in the supple arms of a darkness distinct from every other darkness that has come before it, so why should I, and how could I, stay the same, as if I am not subject to the same law that keeps the seasons changing? The law of invisible evidence tells me I too am distinct, but not separate. No space exists between my essence and the presence of night, for I rest inside the pages of night’s book. It is a good night to stay within these lines.
I can’t write, I can’t rest
The night guard revisits my cell
With you I got out; we got out together
I doubt I’ll ever get well.
Bow down to bowed nights.
Brave days of towering need.
Cede the Sower seed.
Friend: stay near graced nights
We stayed true to pain and need,
Bared torn hearts — chained, freed.
Endure, my dear friend
Let bare fields wipe your brow clear
Such nights bear my hand
Night kneels to shore, sea
Pines, palms creak, and seagulls glide
Maine June, Florida now