prosetry

Achieropoieta

The sun was low and melting through the palms and garish columns when we arrived after flight and frightful drive along winding shoreline lanes in a bus too large for such turns and twists.

We approached the front desk in the open-air lobby and I heard the ocean, fancying it was music, or heard music and fancied it was ocean, and for a moment I attempted in vain to consider the virtues of solitary companionship, nevertheless wondering why I hadn’t come alone.

Days later, I would walk out into the sea through the waves till they became eye-level swells and my feet no longer touched the soft sand beneath; I held my breath and sank in the ease of dissolution.

I should just keep going, I thought as I lost all touch and all taste for judging, suspended in merciful indifference, the undulations of the blue-green water washing away any remaining fear of what I’d learned and who I’d been and what I might become in the great vastness of the permeable and possible.

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prosetry

Unindifferent

“All lovers live on partial knowledge,” Cole says. I say symbiosis, our nameless and personal act, so-called for the world in you and the world in me, corresponding. Everything from simple two-arc birds, white against the starry sky above, to weird fishes down in the cold dark depths beneath, crescent moons for eyes like dreaming. I often think I am, because I don’t know what else to call it.

Is it imprudence we show with names, or do we simply spoil wonderment with everyday answers, and what would be the difference? I’ve longed to believe in one, waxing at times quotidian, and now my simple ardor is enamored with no longer longing to love because there’s you in my solutions, you more than anything, and that’s now, I call it, the always-been.

And now you’re here with me, sleeping beside. Astonished, gazing lunar, I feel as _____ must have when _____. Forgive my universalizing. I know how history pulls us apart, to speak of partiality. Such is the hook on the lure of its richness: the past becomes a domicile and then dwelling is easy.

Do you know how many times? I looked at that picture of you, smiling back at me from years ago, trying to feel precisely this without knowing, without reference, without time, without content, shy of what it added up to. How nice would that have been, I’d think, venturing to calculate my refuge in memories pulled present.

There’s such talent in your beauty, such easy virtuosity in your being. I lean and whisper two things I hadn’t read aloud the night before. “All measurements change for the person who becomes solitary;” “Life is always right.” Far from us, he is, that poet from Prague, but close, given the angle, which I suppose was his point. Symbiosis means never leaving, never having left, but always coming home and knowing. That’s mine, as are you, solitary, partial, perfect, and loved to entirety, my land, my sky, and my sea.

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fiction

SUSPENDED

Chris R-0317.jpg Image by Christine Renney

Three or so hours ago it seemed like a good idea. Set off this evening and drive through the night, arrive home in the early hours and sleep until late. Manage to snatch back some time for myself. But it is only just midnight and already I am beginning to flag. The road ahead is bleached by the hard light from above. It has the jarring urgency of film and I have grown weary from its unspooling. I squint through the windshield, watching, because I must.

Motorway services aren’t ever entirely deserted, not even at two o’clock in the morning. There are a handful of motorists sitting as far away from each other as possible. The service area is cavernous and my every movement is amplified. The scraping of my chair as I stand and my footsteps as I walk back up to the counter for a second cup of coffee. As I wait I notice an image printed on a sheet of paper. It is laying just beyond the till alongside the napkins. I move along the counter and reach for it.

It is the reflection of a man in one of the windows here at the services. He is sitting hunched over his coffee. The motorway fills the frame and the image is blurred. The quality of the print is poor and the paper is thin. It has the look and feel of a photocopy. But the man is much more clearly defined because someone, possibly the photographer, has taken the time to draw around him with a blue pen. And not only the man but also the space he is occupying; the chair and the table and of course the all important coffee cup. Head down, his face hidden, he is sitting amidst the glare of the headlights. I hold up the photo so that the young woman behind the counter can see it.
‘Who took this?’ I ask.
‘Don’t know.’
‘No?’
‘No, no idea,’ she shrugs and I go to put it back.
‘It’s been there for a while,’ she says, ‘surprised it’s not been binned.’
‘Do you mind if I keep it?’ I ask. ‘Save it from the trash?’
‘Yeah, take it if you want.’

I move along the walkway which divides the service area on this side of the motorway from that on the other. The man was sitting out here when the photograph was taken. I’m not sure exactly where but it was at one of the tables closest to the glass. I settle down with my coffee and I fold the image, stow it in my wallet and I gaze beyond my own reflection and down at the road below.

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