Perhaps that which
has happened can unhappen at any moment. I take a breath in, and I immediately
have to throw one out again. The edge of day, which appears fixed in the mosaic of my
eye, is even closer than it seems as it pulls away from me into the passing hours,
days, months and years of a lifetime.
Maybe as I strive
to direct my life according to the possible, memories occur, like rain clouds
journeying west to east pressured by wind. These memories are neither small nor
large; they are neither here nor elsewhere. They are the depth and echo of
a future time; horses elegant and bright. Their galloping doesn’t mean they have come
from elsewhere. Here when they are here, here before they were here, here after
they were here – they are from no place from which I could ever orient myself.
Perhaps everything is divided into three. The true, the
good, the beautiful. Existence,
consciousness, and bliss. The seer, the seen, and their relationship. And what
about the proton, neutron and electron? No one has seen electrons, yet it is
mathematically assumed they are there.
Maybe, even about electrons, very little can be said. Physicists
claim that now that we have electrons, we have come to the limit of matter because electrons
are not visible and have no material property. Yet electrons cannot be called non-matter
either, because all matter consists of them. If they are neither matter nor
non-matter, what to call them? In the meantime, the hypnotist goes on repeating
the phrase there, at the center of that
sleep until you fall so easily under her spell – so colorful, so attractive,
so magnetizing. You raise your eyebrows and wink, the real world falling
through your mind in glittering pieces.
Perhaps misfortune begins with a ringing in the left
ear.It moves on to issue bad weather:
storms, extreme cold, thunder and lightning – before widening its scope to make
room for an accident requiring surgery, a failed relationship, emergency dental
work and a lost wallet. Beware – it will find you more easily if you convince yourself
that it’s gone for good.
Maybe while holding your breath, you may get a chance to
throw a knife at misfortune’s chest, or kick it square in the jaw, sending it
flying backward into a pile of boxes. Either way it is one down, two to go. Yet
even as the darkness of all former unfortunate moments crowd together within you,
life itself presents you with a most mysterious gift. The world paints the world with light as snow
mounds melt to make way for crocus buds. No applause, no congratulations as
heavy sheets of spring rain feel surprisingly warm and refreshing on your arm.
are like birds. Today see one thing, tomorrow another, yet remember nothing.
They clamor for pebbles to build a toppling palace with, for flowers forgotten
as soon as they are cut. With the invisible strings of a pretend bow they shoot
a make-believe arrow into the open sky. As long as they don’t aim, they’ll
never miss the mark.
Maybe as the child
in us departs, a shadow comes over our faces. But is it our fault? How happy we
shall be! we proclaim in the pale tones of early morning after revisiting the youthful
joy of singing a song out loud. Yet we are troubled to see that the once bright red
bricks of the chimney have visibly darkened. A birdfeeder falls in the backyard,
cracks and spills its seeds. We leave it on the ground.
magician and his wife, now retired, live in a small house in the country
surrounded by tulips. Each day the magician waters the tulips, and tells his
wife about the flowers that have newly appeared. There goes the old man into
the garden again, bent with a watering can in his shaking hand. His
wife stands at the door and looks at him calmly.
Maybe the magician’s wife has seen this image a thousand
times, yet sees it a little less well every time since her eyesight has
weakened. She stands at the garden gate and calls out to him but he does not
hear her voice. His eyes are grey and old and something in them is strange –
one would like to say alive. The magician’s wife follows him and takes his arm.
Together they stand at a threshold, yet dare not step over it. Dusk is
gathering as they walk back into the house.
Perhaps the woman with the invisible face
is a constant source of mystery. Though not at the physical center
of the composition, she is the main focus around which the room revolves.
Maybe even as she lies encased in a watery tomb
constructed from the gleaming white rim of the tub, there is always a chance
the woman will slip out of the picture at the lower edge. Her pink flesh tinged
with lilac might for a time escape the flatness of the
painting, and emerge from its suffocating color and light into
a great wind that will carry her over tall grasses via a scheming, mischievous sky. Sunglasses in hand, the woman will arrive in a cold country in the middle of a heavy snowstorm. To make ends meet she will walk from door to door selling pencils and writing paper until someone invites her in for a cup of coffee. Then as her host proceeds to tell the most appalling tales that include the despicable conduct of the local people, the first step will have been taken. The woman will now be torn between wishful thinking and the idea that some way for her to leave this place will surely be found.
Perhaps each day a
woman falls under the spell of a man’s words and glances. She abandons herself
to this onrush of love, clutching at her happiness as a child opens her arms to
embrace the simplistic beauty of soul to whom the greater world is largely
Maybe even as the
brightest hours in these fleeting days are overcast by the sadness of their
imminent separation, the surrounding gloom only serves to make the love
sweeter. She had thought this kind of
love impossible in the past and had believed it only existed fictitiously, to
be read about in novels and poems. Holding hands, the couple disintegrates into
the play of reflected light on the water opening out before them until all that
remains is a mauve shadow of their shared memory that, bit by bit, begins to
Perhaps your memory is hazy as sea glass, smooth and etched into
softer blues, subtle greens or chalky whites. The clarity of a window you
passed long ago has faded. You remember church bells, the smell of basil, the
day you found your car had been towed, but then the sun melts into the bay
and here you are.
Maybe a bad memory is no memory at all, but a haunting. It could
be a story someone told you, a newspaper column about a Japanese woman who
died and was eaten by her cats, or the other stories you read for
pleasure. Sometimes you wonder what’s behind that door you closed, the place
where you came from, and then you're treading dark water. Your bad memory is
like a stray dog that wanders off somewhere and once home, you think it may
carry a disease or it must have ticks or fleas.
Perhaps you are alone beneath a cold moon. You cannot speak. The bitter wind has pierced your thin clothes. What is it like to find yourself cradled by only the faint glimmer of distant stars? To be the other half of a long, dark night? What is it like to relinquish the middle and the edge, the last and the first in this silent interlude of dust and thought while awaiting the new morning’s light, unable to filter out the extraneous and grasp the essential of the new direction you find yourself traveling toward?
Maybe as you venture out into the dawn, a bird is watching you from every treetop. Light floods your fingers, and faint heartbeats of the year’s first flowers speak your thoughts. You smile as you did in babyhood: a calm, blooming face haloed in brightness. Something divine lives in the shape of your eyes and the movements of your eyelids as, caught in the glow of all things golden – hillsides, shade trees and fields – you approach me, your skin sprinkled with the sun’s sweet afternoon.
Perhaps as we take
our first steps into the brightness, the width of the water increases. How
clear everything becomes here within the sound of the moving sea, as only this
walking into it can reveal.
Maybe as we
continue to wade out with no destination in mind the metallic, lucent green
clear-like aquamarine slaps against our skin before bubbling to the shore in a lavender
froth. We look into each other’s eyes and find the water there speaking to us
via its flash and gleam. Just as we breathe without thinking.
Perhaps mind is the shadow of a
cloudless sky passing over the choppy water of a wind-tossed sea. You have been
thrown overboard. You may not even be aware of it. You have entered a
liminal space, silent, bound by certain rituals and full of magic; tumbled into
a landscape where only the blackbirds know your thoughts.
Maybe the bricks by which the structure of this threshold have been
constructed were raised by sounds: each brick filled with feeling, filled with
heart. You can only know this space by leaving that step upon which you are now
standing. Suddenly all sounds come to you from everywhere, from all directions,
falling on you from every side. You will
feel a dizziness. Relax, and let everything enter. You have become more liquid;
you have become more evanescent, praising as you go.
Perhaps all roads not taken, all lives
cast adrift still exist marooned in space and time. Each image of an image of a
shadow’s shadow lurking at the edge of our eyes gets projected at every turn
and passed on from one day to the next, from person to person, generation to
generation – from time to desire and back to a memory that never goes away
because it was part yearned for, part remembered, part imagined – a memory that
can never go away because it never really was.
Maybe all unlived minutes, all conversations still on
hold pulsate after we stop breathing in the way that underground water wells up
and works its way to the surface by the pull of a dowser’s rod. But for now how
impossible to reach them no matter how close we come: that childhood, bright
summer sun shining up from puddles; that great unsolved love. They fade the way
this landscape fades – a late forgotten pear hanging over golden meadow weed
growing soft and dark.
Perhaps their eyes are red, tense. When you look into them
you feel a sudden shivering: those thieves and hunters that visit you when
morning is near. You are asleep but not totally asleep. You are not yet awake –
and you may fall back into sleep again. You are just on the surface, just
Maybe as you feel yourself being drawn to them, you see their eyes are alive but
their faces are dead, so you turn away, steering clear of their hypnotic
beckoning. Instead as you begin to relax you can’t help but catch the outline
of your own reflection in the dark window glass of your inner eyelids. And as garden insects stop singing in the evening when the rains begin, and as eyes are
useless, after all, unless there is something to be seen, suddenly, simply, you
begin to see yourself perfectly.
Perhaps we are
able to share because we have reached a point of overflowing. This overflowing eventually
becomes a flood. By our own overflowing, the entire universe is filled and sooner
or later we touch all stars. At the point that the whole universe is bathed,
in us the earth feels good.
Maybe from up
above, the lit windows of our modest homes look like a fallen constellation. Night
air moves in the spaces between trees as moths make dusty circles around
illuminated squares of brightness that glow far away from any why, when or how.
So often we do not seem to care one way or the other about the sweet smell of late summer berries, or take the time to follow a wandering drift of
unidentified sound. Yet on days in which a strong wind presents a challenge to
us, we so easily open our mouths.
Perhaps eyes are
the light of the face. Movement is their nature. Just like a river, they are so
alive! They continue to move even when we are dreaming. The whole night they
are dreaming along with us, but they can rarely remember what they saw.
Maybe eyes are the
doors to our inner secrets, yet at any time,
we can close them. But who has ever really looked at their body from the inside? Beyond a blank sheet of darkness, a sensation of having totally gone blind – perhaps something greets us naked, toothless and hairless, heart newly opened, face turned upward, nose almost touching the pure anticipation of our open palms.
Perhaps if there are no objects, then light cannot be seen.
Look at the sky, it is blue, but it is not blue. Only when the wind has
scrubbed every cloud from the sky will it be a bright morning; only then will our eyes, straining like fan blades against
the ceiling, begin to flicker - their sharp edges poised to slice through the
wonder of this new day’s delicate cocoon.
Maybe a child sees the rising sun as a saw blade, or as a
yellow circle with teeth. Lao Tzu believed that that which can be said cannot
be true. As a result, he remained silent for most of his life. I will always
wonder if he ever visited hidden rooms of forsythia, with their inviting, open doors of
yellow star-shaped flowers, or dark mountains gathering dust from the sands of
ancient Egypt, swallowed whole by trees in the nearly invisible rain that
smells as bitter as aspirin and sounds much like a lid closing over a tomb.
Perhaps most artists have rarely used more than a little of
this suspicious magic. Yet it is the key to any work of art, for if in your mind’s
eye you cover it, the composition goes flat. It is certainly most difficult to
use, yet for those artists whose primary interest is in announcing a remarkable moment, a time when light stood still, it is a small price to pay for the expression they are searching for.
Maybe while no work of art can be expressed with out a hint of the
mystery of it, it is only visible in its beauty in moments of high vitality. Alive and thrashing, in picture form it is almost but not quite completely pinned down. As
the outside creeps into the inside, it is difficult to see where it begins and where the work of art ends. It often sneaks up on the viewer unawares, and floats in a space like a magic carpet, unsupported by anything banal.
Perhaps a man
spends each moment worrying about the next. Living is like running in place, a
motionless motion. Panic is a sound behind a wall inside him, as moving is the
only way to keep down thoughts of what he sees as what he sees becomes one unpleasant
skin growing over another, growing another ignominious version
Maybe, with such sudden
seizures of tormented manhood flooding upon him, he rushes to gather himself
up. And although storms of anxiety grip his heart, he fights with the feeling. He
once believed in common sense, yet his eyes have a strange glare in them. Big,
hot, blue eyes set far apart. He bellows in a foreign, airless language, trying
to keep some sense of purpose, but the compass he conjures in his mind has only
a single arrow pointing to a direction the rest of us don’t recognize. This
results in, well.....you probably already know.
Perhaps as the past has left me and moved on, so too have previous versions of my body left me. My naked body, the days sweet and long. My entrapped body, I look at you and try to start a conversation but it is difficult for you to say anything. My ‘in love’ body, when I hear sweet songs and think of you I want to see you so badly but you don’t call. My relatively certain body, the elements so mixed up.
Maybe even as
nature might stand up and say Itcould notbeotherwise you still
don’t believe me, body, as I wander through the garden that brings us together as one, fertilize seeds simmered in sunshine and smiles that I will always remember.The lettuce is good, although everything else
is sort of dying. You thought you’d seen the last of me, but here I am, in air
that is warm and grey. Am I so alone? Here we go again. And what if I don’t
even like the new you, here waiting for me?