Sunday, April 5, 2009

March 1

I've referred to the fact that dates resonate in my subconscious. So here's an interesting pattern I just now noticed.

End of February beginning of March, a number of years ago, some darkness entered my life, and some light. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out which it is. Like pressing your eyes with your thumbs. Is that light, or is it darkness. In my case it was both, over the years.

Four March 1sts ago I wrote this:

Mens sana in corpore sano

Something horrible happened today. Not today -- some years ago now, but this is the anniversary. Happy anniversary, Jack. So I found myself raving to myself, alone, talking outloud mind you, storming and fuming and rehearsing my rage as if I'd perform it someday for an audience. Bravo! Encore! And then I came to a moment of self-awareness, and stopped, and asked myself, Why am I ranting like this? I mulled over the mystery for a bit, and then realized the date.

Who would have thought that the spirit marks the calendar. A soul is branded with pain, the scar deep as bone, and it throbs like a variable star ... a clockwork universe of anguish. Not all behaviour is hormonal, it seems.

Miserere nobis.

Pretty raw, for all that I attempted to make some distance. We see through such obvious tactics. Nowadays they teach about defense mechanisms in elementary school.

The following year I wrote this, on March 1:

What the Stars Do

Haven't you been paying attention? Haven't you noticed? This is a horrible place. The sylvan glades can fall to blight, the crisp sunrise can shatter under earthquake, the starry night can rain down as fiery hailstones. Kindness is met by cruelty. We open our hearts to each other, when we do, and there is no sure promise of security or returned affection.

But for all this, we must select those qualities that we would embody, and we must act as if we possess them. We will be loyal, though betrayed. We will be gentle in the face of uncertainty. We will be fierce even when we are afraid. If nothing else will be constant, if the world wavers and time changes it pace -- in the choking presence of every lost hope, we will draw our breath and rise and meet what lies waiting for us.

Grief cannot be avoided. It cannot be subdued. We can only make peace with it.

I remembered the day ahead of time, and watched the black serpent stir and uncoil in my soul. I was afraid of it because it has held me helpless in its loops before, and I find I need to breathe, even if only for weeping. But we have grown older together, and the phantoms of my missing limbs are dimmer now. Perhaps there is more light. I'm still married to the pain, but no longer feel the urge so deeply to be faithful. Pain is a whore.

Is life terrible? Yes. Is it beautiful, and filled with anguish? Yes. Is there joy? There must be. It's not like there always has to be a happy ending. An ending should be enough in itself. It's a kind of hope. Even the stars don't last. Only heaven, and hell -- which is what life is, writ large.

I'll let my gray white beard grow out for a few more days, then I'll shave.

Well, a year had passed after all, and we'd expect some perspective. It helped that I knew what might come. You will have noticed, perhaps, that I back up into these subjects. I was trying to justify my foolishness. Love is foolish, you know. You know that, right? Of course you do.

Last year, February 29 -- which to my way of thinking is the same as March 1 -- I faced it head on, without symbols ... well of course with symbols, but directly, also. I mean, I used names. How direct can I be?


This is the day that Jason came to live with me. I say he came, but I went and got him. Out at one of the juvenile halls. This is also the day I lost Joey.

February is such an unfinished month. Where I am, the trees are just thinking about opening up their leaf buds. I planted elms, 28 years ago. One of them, in the open ground, is in full burgeon. Another grows out of a small square of dirt in the cement. The only leaves it has are left over from last fall. Today I was wondering why that would be. I figured it just wasn’t getting enough water. All its roots have to travel so far, under the driveway and sidewalk and street. All that cement must make a difference.

I know a cat that lives on the roof. They go crazy, it seems. But no, not crazy. Just true to their genes. Some are born mild, some wild. It doesn’t have anything to do with where they’re born. A friendly cat gets eaten by coyotes. A cat with wild genes will be friendly to a few people, but only because they’ve been tamed. That made me think again today that cats only like you because you give them pleasure. We’d like to think all that rubbing up against us is love. It’s not. It’s just them spreading their scent. They have glands by their mouths. It must feel good to rub scent glands on pant legs.

And the house if full of dogs. So and so is out of the country again. Only three of his dogs are left. They wait by the door all day hoping someone will come home. Then they trail after like sled dogs. One just stands and waits patiently to be petted. One runs in small circles, over and over, smiling and glad that it’s not being beaten. It came from an abused puppyhood. The other one is just along to be a part of the crowd. As with almost everyone, it’s mostly about food.

Well, I suppose that's the point of it all. Just looking for something to keep us going. Last a little longer. We're all February, every once in a while prolonging our days. It's only proper. The alternative is regret. Regret over unfinished lives.

Hmm. I guess I have to take that back, about not using symbols. But they're obvious. I still needed to back into it.

This year I was aware of the season, and felt no need to deal with grief. No black depression -- just a lack of energy. I didn't feel like writing much, that preceding week. Bumped some stuff up. Now I can see why. And look what I wrote on March 2 -- Indigo Children, invented and ruined by stupid adults. At least it's not tragic. I seemed to be over it. But then came March 3, so naked I really will, someday, go back and pull certain sentences out of it.

We're never done with these things. They just change shapes, and we get a hold on them, or they get us. That's how it always is. Someone comes into your life, someone leaves, there is joy and despair, light and dark ... choose your dichotomies and spin them as you will. But that's another thing that life is. Metabolism. In and out, with transformations.

Why is that so frightening, and painful. I was right four Marches ago. The spirit marks the calender. And I was right three Marches ago. We will be fierce even when we're afraid. And two Marches ago: should I have loved less? And this March, well, I must have been wrong. Why else would I need to pull out sentences. But I can't be right all the time, or wrong.


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