Gates of Sleep
and where I've been, tied up in fragments rather than knots,
made into a weaving that at last ties together all the various
threads of a life that seems unraveled and directionless.
And then I can't help but wonder if the men I've loved
had anything to do with it. I carry a photo of Ganesha
in the truck, tucked up in the overhead sunshade. And on
the dashboard I have a small pewter necklace bead of Ganesha,
which I had once tied to the rear view mirror, but which has fallen
loose. Some morning, doing truck chores, I'll get a piece of wire
and reattach the Remover of Obstacles to the view. Meanwhile,
I've put most considerations, worries, and nightmares on hold.
It takes all my energy to like these plans for summer. It keeps me
going, though. Somewhere along the road I lost some necessary
element, some attraction or attractiveness. Now, no matter where
I turn, there isn't anyone to spend the night with, not even in
the desert heat with long distances between stops, roads, and hotels.
Back now from long southwestern roads, back from the heat,
back into the freezing rain, these nights seem lonelier than ever.
Rain on the tin cap over the fireplace is both soothing and desolate.
It's late at night. The world seems to have come to an end,
except for the small circle around this lamp, this flickering early moth.
I invoke sleep under the sign of the wrathful deities.
The many moods of Mahakala, all of them fatal to illusion
and disrepair. I'm more drawn to the wrathful deities, they seem
more real, more connected to life's regular disruptions and rocky trails.
Kicking a stone off the cliff-edge path with steel-toed boots, you know not
to go chasing its fall down that steep abyss. Below you, a million acres
of empty air filling the canyon from rim to rim. One step, and you fall.
The photo of Ganesha in the truck is the elephant-headed deity
in his rare wrathful aspect, black-bodied, golden-eyed, golden-trunked,
a rare Nepalese statue seen in an art museum of the god in flames,
dancing for all the world in a ring of fire like his father, Shiva the Destroyer.
Dancing the world in and out of existence a billion times a second,
the rite of Shiva, blood on the plains, blood on the stones of the canyon.
Wrathful Ganesha serves to wake you up, even if you'd rather stay asleep.
All of the wrathful deities are about slapping you awake. I admit I find
most of the peaceful deities dull, sleep-inducing, their tranquil meditations
soothing but disconnected from my own life. Too much drama for that
dull grace. The slaps on both cheeks from the black-skinned,
tiger-robed, corpse-dancing wakers serves me best. I guess I'm thick.
I suppose I should wake into some higher life, but all I really want to do
right now is find another lover. Prospects are few. Hopes are dim.
Somehow you go on, even when it's pointless. Insomnia.
That's the real weight of living, this going-on that serves no purpose.
Where's the Remover of Obstacles, the Opener of Roads, when you really
need to find someone to sleep with? Not even for sex, just for the warmth
of a body in bed next to yours. I remember Fernando, from Peru,
joyous dark-skinned man with the generous heart and stunning smile.
Nights and weekends we spent together, naked, sleeping, kissing,
making love naked in the hidden back yard hot tub. Nights we slept,
mornings when I woke feeling completely satisfied, completely one
with the person next to me, waking to feel breath on my chest hairs,
hearing his heartbeat through my jaw. Where's my new sleeper?
Sleepers joining hands across the world, distances dissolved by
that elephant-headed guardian of roads, travel, and historians.
Remove the obstacles between me my love. Between me and restful sleep.
Remove the dancing from my legs, my jaw, my itching hide.
I'm going on, anyway, even if I never wanted to go on.
We made love on the rug on the floor. Now we want to meet again.
Make these roads collapse, Lord, into connection.
Shiva, Dance All Night