Writing begins in bees. A plot of paper supports the imaginary onion and its efforts at making the twilight magnetism of butter seem a little less tragic. Anything imaginary is bound, sooner or later, to become real. Reality cannot help itself. It gets everywhere. Gets in everything. You can’t avoid it. Even fingernails sometimes cantilever the awning of expectation into fingertip arenas of tearful softness. Skin is one example. Another might be poetry, a substance highly valued for its non-utilitarian viscera.
Meanwhile, let us say there is a shawl hidden in the image of a planetarium. Here at the border of time, the lake goes swimming in itself and a swimming pool opens its mouth to say alpine. Or was it beverage? I can never understand the language of swimming pools. Lakes have a much clearer articulation. Their diction is pure as a ripple, eloquent as a wave as it touches the shore and sinks into the sand. The human face is quite similar. Emotions ripple to the surface and the eyes gleam with an inner hardware, the glimmer of heaven caught among our ribs.
Destiny moves by rope and war. The wind passes over the field of fallen men and flags and horses and displays the real meaning of drums. Percussion is the real culprit here. Percussion, and guns. The percussion of guns. It is irresistible, like the grammar of platitudes, or the exultation of ducks.
But who cares about destiny? Destiny isn’t real. Destiny is fiction. Like the distillation of experience into music. Like a hand of gold clasping a copper coin, then dropping it into a jukebox, and pressing a sequence of buttons that results in the voice of Bob Dylan singing about release. Release from what? You name it. Prison. The body. A romance gone sour. Sometimes I get the feeling I’ve wandered into the wrong narrative, somebody else’s story, not my story. My story was meant to unfold on the sidewalks of Athens. So what am I doing here, here at the border of time, where there are no sidewalks, only imaginary sidewalks, but sidewalks nonetheless, sidewalks with curbs and bricks and Portland cement? There is a dynamic of mind that is important to discuss, a certain flexibility to maintain, a resistance to feed and encourage against the pressures of linguistic formulation that inhere in written composition, because that is the nature of poetry, that is the nature of being. It is a way to understand the will’s revulsion to time, the despair of all willing which is foiled by the past, yet being what it is by virtue of this suffering cannot help but seek for a way outside of time, which is incomprehensible, because time itself persists by its own perishing, but for now we should stick to the subject of sidewalks.
I have a particular flair for sidewalks. They all tell their stories in unique irregularities, insinuations of edge and texture. Patches of old and new cement, the pattern of cracks, the footprints of dogs, the handprints of puckish adolescents.
There are some sidewalks that seem to propagate islands of sound, the way a gallon of paint might sleep in a can until it is awakened by brush. Sidewalks that groan at night like the ancient voice of the sea, and some that boast the green effulgence of algebra.
Such is the hardware of meaning. A swarm of words fills with the quiet meditations of a monastery and there goes your meaning, taking to the air in a hundred different directions when a book suddenly hits the ground, or a bell rings. The world is too big for paper. It must be expressed in eggs. The earth needs serious repair. It is breaking. It is dying. It won’t hold together with duct tape. Not this many wars. Not this many cars. Not this many knives.
Go ahead. Open the door. Let’s begin a new paragraph in which mass and velocity still harmonize with the quantum emanations of a lampshade. An hour stirs in the old red clock, evolving into the knots and ligaments that make an afternoon. The gleaners of chestnuts on Bigelow have gone, and so have the last of the chestnuts. Winter is moving to the forward of the stage with another long speech about snow and death. I like the part about snow. Snow is pretty magical when you think about it. It blankets the cemetery in gentle mounds and drifts. It sticks around for a day or two and then disappears into puddles and slush. It’s as if even the mollusks that inhabit this world held an actuality impervious to the sting of hope or the dull ache of despair. Pure being. And a nice deep hole to crawl into when it’s over.