Sunday I saw several people crying at the airport. One man on his phone begging the person on the other line to please stop calling and checking on him. I gathered that the mother of this man at the terminal had died. I was near the end of the chapter of a novel where someone was just about to tell someone else I love you. He was crying. The man on his phone. He wanted to be alone and couldn’t be. Reading felt vulgar and charitable at once, though it was neither of those things, it was just what I was doing, as crying was what he was doing. I wasn’t really reading. But he was really crying. When he left, the older man sitting next to him began to cry, I imagined the situation reminded the older man of a loss in his own life, I didn’t think listening alone would have elicited this. Then I remembered a time at the end of college I saw a young man and young woman embracing, crying, very clearly saying goodbye to one another, and an older woman, perhaps another student’s parent, who turned to my friend and I with tears and said—Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever seen. And then my friend and I both were crying, perhaps imagining the woman’s sadness came also from some kind of loss, though we had never yet known ourselves what that felt like, to say goodbye to a person you love, certainly we didn’t know what that felt like to remember. Now I’m remembering a time several years after college, when I sat on the roof of an apartment in Philadelphia with that same friend, it was morning, I had been drinking for more than twelve hours, the morning glories with their purple throats open to the sun disgusted me, I had fantasized jumping many times by then, I had been compulsively subjecting myself to different kinds of sexual abjection. And I was crying. It had been a long time since anyone had touched me gently, platonically, unconditionally. Yes, that is the word I am looking for. Free from obligation. I was crying because it was painful to remember, when my friend put my head into her lap, that I was more than nothing. Which reminds me, and now I am nearly through, of the other friend crying more recently into my shoulder, more recent than the day of airport crying, and how I wanted to transmit to her in that moment the kindness that has been shown to me, the way a mineral or library radiates with past encounter. History moves differently in vessels of earth and paper and person. I came back to the novel I had not really been reading at the airport. I was ready for the I love you moment, though regret it never came. Time is full of what we never say to one another.
Earth was a period of time
Night makes a little square where the light can find permission in
A tone enters I am listening to organs the instruments but also to myself
My parts of me and I cannot distinguish the sound of the reality
From what might just be the friction of my nerves with blood
Sound of thought conspiring it evaporates until eventually you reach
A point of listening that is maybe just a few decibels or waves above sleep
Then thought becomes music or vice versa or consciousness is
Music or music makes a square
Where consciousness evaporates
And lets the light in
I was profoundly awake with no sense of it and on the final note
Both of my hands shot up involuntarily like a hallelujah or astral projection
Some mornings I wake up and immediately what I feel
(Think) is what I know I cannot do or get to then all of my listening
Happens in this cloak of pre-emptive failure or it is night and I refuse
Sleep holding onto regret embarrassment disappointment
Like children I cannot put down but want to
Every day neglecting to record what I believe I should
And it’s fine I guess essential forgetting is another kind
Of writing happening within us there is nothing I want to remember
More of life should be like forgetting also sleep and pleasure – lovemaking
Or more should just be these things period I don’t need
The comparative where else are imagination and freedom
More alive or revelation
Than in those terrains of ecstatic attention and intuition
Something otherworldly even when world is just a moment
Passing I cannot apprehend I do not want to live in these versions of time
That are not the time I’m living in
A problem of language is everyone telling me what is what
Nothing is anything forever or absolutely
So this makes it possible also to compose if not a solution
At least a means of escape I am in the part of sound hovering with dream
A path a question of the first is with me now
With me what path the first who thought I will need
A way and so bent the grass with walking to remember
The question I am on is singing time and language
Keep breaking over me like rain onto a windshield
Going going going goes the song
A little square the moon makes and the way
Looking at the moon there is finally the relief
The habit of noticing of being apart
Diminishes I diminish and will continue
Diving into what I will leave every
Summer every thing and one I love I love
By leaving as it is or will be without me
What I cannot bring pressing into reeds the rings of where
I felt the walk to the vista especially spectacular the sound
I cannot remember what they were saying though the feeling
Of the sound returns on the path ahead of me
Conversation between pairs and trios of friends I truly loved
Prayer for the knot
what praying I become. For the brisk quick chill
of an old humiliation. For remorse for the grotesque
what refuses to relent. Prayer for the correspondence
I could not continue. For who was a friend
almost and then I wasn’t there prayer.
Prayer that you don’t understand me. Prayer where
I am alone. Uselessness. Futility. My clinging
to the notion. I am giving up. Prayer.
And talking anyway prayer I say too much.
My chronic and excessive sincerity prayer.
Dork prayer for earth and everybody on it.
I did it impulsively. Prayer I already did this.
I am past the point prayer so much
stopped being possible.
Prayer and prayer and still I did prayer.
“I – nothing.”
Prayer that I forgot it.
Once I could and when did I discover prayer
that I would not. When change prayer. When will
prayer for never. I have this nostalgia
for something I’m not sure prayer I ever had.
And you think will it ever be like this
again prayer. But what was it
in the first place. “Suddenly” actually
happens very gradually.
Prayer it’s just perceiving of perceiving
that is sudden. Suddenly my heart
my mind my breath prayer
my gut my groin my spirit
are in the fog at a party and they’re all wondering
if anyone’s even there anymore.
Snow I know is coming and now I’m in it.
Prayer for the only other person
at the 24 hour grocery. Warming her hands
in the rotisserie rack. There is nothing
I need prayer. I just wanted to be somewhere.
Author photo by Amelia Golden