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Saturday, November 15, 2014

For the Time We Have Left...

And history will repeat itself yet again. The characters have changed, but the script remains intact-a black play pulled from a dusty shelf and brought to life again on a dim stage. I shall be my father and the woman who bore my child shall be my embittered, aimless adversary. She will appear as a ragged, aged doll, rarely bothering to bother with appearances anymore. I shall be a skeleton with sunken eyes, rarely bothering to nourish flesh that is laced with contempt. Our sin has found us out. As we walked blindly to the wedding altar, we both gave vows to the devil we know. The Devil has taken the reigns and steered us into dark, uncharted waters. In the disastrous wake of our union, we will improvise some of the lines of the original script, but the lethal message will remain the same. The lesson was not learned. The players will reveal all of the ferocity of the original cast. God willing, the children of this generation will not pay as we did, the price of war. Yet if this play is allowed to run every act, they will pay; the parent war will rage on. Let us burn this script, shall we?


written in 2011


“Please just leave us be for the time we have left.”

No! You can’t say that! This game is far from over! 

It nearly killed me, that dagger, bitter womb of my fruit! I open the mail with my morning coffee and out jumps the knife, cutting so deep that every day since has been a recovery. I’m left with a dull, constant crippling pain. I’d survived every one of your blows with fierce eyes and sharp teeth. I’d slept beside wolves on the mean streets when home was no longer an option. I’d eaten crumbs and swallowed every curse you spat at me. But now this: You’re not mine. Go away. 

If I am not yours, the seed of your soul, whatever your soul’s worth, whatever that mysterious primordial bond cashes in at, than I am no-one’s-a flickering, feeble light on a cold, endless trek. No source, no destination. No beginning, a tragic end.  Close the book and call it a life.

I’m vacant. I often cower from the noisy day-to-day: 
“What time will you be home?… help me with the groceries…did you go to the bank?…Daddy can I have…Daddy what’s for dinner…Daddy…Dear…Can I…Can you…Fix this…Are you….When you….Will you…” 

Music is flat and tuneless, food tastes tasteless. There are no guests. If people passed through, I'd need to come alive and serve cheese trays and coffee and paint on a face for the occasion.

I couldn’t help but share with Dad your deeds of days gone by; how you’d cuss and curse that a B should have been an A, how Ted Nugent spoke the doctrine of the devil, how hippy hair would choke out my future, how guitar and girl dreams were simply something found in a bubble gum comic. Quit wasting your mind, gum gets made by the worthless millions! I was bursting at the seams with your wretched burden! I had to exorcise the demon memories. Dad was a good listener. Could I have truly imagined that he would write his own little book and send it off to you, a dagger of his own: Proof that you’re a lousy Mother written by J.W. Burroughs, co-written by his son.? Was it the nature of the attack that turned you sour for me, as though I myself had conspired the rag and tracked down your mailing address? Was it the poison within the pages that sickened you? Was it the person within those words that pushed you out of your window, or was it a collision of all three realities? It certainly dug well below the surface of things. Dad was a deep thinker. I was beside myself the day he pulled out a copy of your gift and handed it to me, beaming as though he’d written the next best-seller and I was the agent who 
would vindicate it all: 

“You wrote this? You mailed it to her? Are you out of your fucking mind?”

I had still hoped, embittered one, that things could be different for us. Dad decided things should be different too…finalized in his own fashion:

“I’m trying to help you out here! Throw me a bone, Jay! You didn’t deserve any of her shit!”  


“ Thirty God-damn years! Thirty years ago! Drop it!"

I half expected one of his signature backhands to silence my rebuttal. None came. Only an icy, distant stare reflected my hopeless reaction, as though the madman was contemplating, perhaps cowering at what I had just said.

"Pour me a drink. Jesus, Dad!”

And there we sat in silence, gulping Sherry and cola, chain smoking, stealing sideways glimpses of one another, pretending to watch the television as it chattered away. We searched painfully for small talk. Dad’s features eventually softened and his eyes became those of a scolded schoolboy:

“I did it for you, you know.”

“Bullshit!" I grumbled as I finally drifted off into a sitting sleep. 

I wasn’t leaving his dusty, smoke-filled cheap-wine reeking apartment that night; he needed a time-out and I had to stand guard to enforce it. 

Dad’s convictions ran through him like a deep and twisted river lined with muddy banks and odd thorny growth where most would dare not tread, but they were his convictions. He fancied himself as being voice for all men. Deep down, I applauded his efforts that day, despite the scolding I laid on him. He had his facts in order, his ducks lined up. He found the words that were stuck in my own throat and shot them like bullets at you. He was an English teacher; he knew the ins and outs of analogies and descriptive. His style was delicious, we both must admit it. He relished the thought of your total demise; that too is undeniable. I wasn’t totally with him on that sentiment, but you’ve been off of my gift list for awhile now. He crafted his raft well and took you down his muddy banks:

“Perhaps a gentle reminder of some of the landmark issues of the past might shed some light on that dim landscape you inhabit…”

Powerful prose. You chewed through every word like it was a tough steak, determined to finish the meal, determined to digest it all and get back to your feet. Dad taught you well how to get back up, at any cost, your ray of light penetrating the surface of things. How many copies of this crap, you wondered. How many copies? (“I intend to show this letter to some people we both know.”)  Close the curtains, don‘t answer the phone! The neighbors could be reading it too! The glossy pages of your Better Homes and Gardens magazine were torn and tossed into a wild wind by Dad’s love letter. You scrambled to piece them all back together so you could hide safely again. You circled and defended your wounded facade like a crazed shark, waiting for me to swim past. How does my blood taste?

There was a way out for you at that moment,  Mother...a chance to leave the surface of things and find a deeper cause, a better condition. It all could have had a happy ending, I swear it. Dad only meant malevolence, but you could have been redeemed! Every soul, at some point must stop and take stock, even when the inventory is ugly. Demons can’t occupy us unless we allow them to. We can’t expel them until we see them. Did you learn nothing working in the hospital? Does a cancer patient deny his condition in the face of facts, even unto death’s door? Did not sickness, suffering, death, health, healing and hope, when all stitched together show you the greater canvas, the map that points us to a more certain destiny? Did you just toss remedies around all day, a needle here, a pill there, like an educated vending machine, no thought to your purpose?  Is your surface so solid that no depth may penetrate it? Perhaps my depth is too deep. Perhaps those rays of light that break through the surface of things haven’t fully reached me down here.

Please just leave us be…

Of course I will.

“...for the time we have left.”

Not  just yet, Mother...not just yet. 

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