“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.” – Garrison Keillor
In-Between Before and After
I was floundering on, as usual, until she gave my soul a slap—well deserved at that. I dug myself out of the fiction of life and devoured the books on enlightenment she gave me to read. She wondered if I had the will power to see the light. It was all candlelight at first. Then slowly, over time, my mind’s eye adjusted to the sunlight that entered my life.
Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t. I hit bottom and bounced back. I got a job with insurance. If that wasn’t bait enough to entice her to give it another go—I finally had a home for her to come back to. I was still dubious about whether angels actually existed, at least in my dimension. Until that is, I decided to quit smoking. I did it the hard way—lung cancer. And those new age guru quantum mystic holistic health specialists she turned me on to—maybe they helped, maybe they didn’t, but at least I’m not now working on re-incarnation therapy.
She was a reluctant angel, but she saved my life. Because of her I learned to listen. What baffles the body at times undermines the spirit. Yet the body-mind intention is ever clear. The essence of some sensibility so out of place, so foreign in a private space—was there—and wanted me to be aware. I had come to understand that what is received by one cell, entering the vast emptiness, is complete in every sense. Nothing enters the body and is not heard, and I heard the cancer deep in the dark recesses of my lung.
Everybody knows about the hole in the bucket. It’s where reality, the visible world on the other side of the plate glass window of your mind, slowly leaks into the emptiness of time and space. Until one day you find you have arrived in the here and now, and the bucket’s empty.
How was it that the illusion of happiness, the lingering smell of sweat and damp sheets, the cocoon of comfort wrapped around my brain, could, in the course of a conversation, over a cup of coffee, or sitting on the edge of the bed, turn into an aloneness, without substance, an accumulation of a lifetime of togetherness with nothing to hold onto. Waking to nobodies home anymore meant I was left with my own rewards.
She had told me it was never complicated—if you can’t cook, stay out of the kitchen. If you don’t love yourself, leave romance well enough alone. I had put her emails in a folder in my memory box along with the record album of the music we loved—it had a groove in it where the heartache began.
That was in-between before and after. The lung grew back nice and white like a nun’s wimple. I learned to cook and felt good about shaving the face in the mirror.
It’s Just a Story
It’s just a story. Albeit our story.
I’m not questioning it.
How far can you take it,
this syncopathic relationship?
This vibrational accompaniment?
A tumor grows in me, and so too with you.
Aware in empathetic wonderment
to the extreme possibly.
Awash in dawns’ subtle light
the trill of a mock of blue birds
through the open window,
a purr at the foot of the bed.
What more needs to be said?
To share another day,
to be so awake in how love reaches out
and defines itself without words
is unquestionably our story
nothing unreasonable happens
and there you are
wandering around a room
full of memories.
good ones mind you,
for nothing should be carried forward
that does not shed a light
on the loving side of you