Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Glass Walls

Formless, incoherent, like seeing at a distance
through a glass wall the world ticks on, tides in, tides out,
flowing between ocean and lens, never at rest,
never tranquil, never ceasing. So go the waves.

A month of driving, travel, seeing new places,
seeing old faces, seeing the dead walking through
the living, all of it seen through a glass wall.
You hoped for enlightenment, that fizzy detachment
in which the opened heart engages with suffering
by neither causing nor rejecting. Instead, so obvious,
it's depression, the remembered glass wall of uncaring,
not unknowing. Neither an embrace of mystery nor
a carapace of dejected self-analysis, it's just blah.
Where's the fizz of life? That snowstorm seems to have it,
gathering and drifting in high riverine canyon winds,
till they bite the road and block it, but you don't care.
Is a depression a distraction from worry? Is it a gift?
I don't know. I embrace the few moments where
the world embraced me. And they were few. Only now
realizing how distanced from the foam I've been,
another bleak morning, snowless, cold, bitter winded,
only now knowing what you hoped was satori was only sorrow.

There's a small buoy inside my inner sea, holding on
to anchorage while storm waves surge around.
There's a small boy inside whose horror resurges
unabating, groundswelled by the belly scar he doesn't
understand. A repeating chorus of what the hell happened
to me. A line of scar on his perfect belly, glowing white
where the angel slit him open with the burning fiery sword.
All these sensations surrounding surgical terror, shunted aside
for later; now later has become now. Horror, terror, grief, death,
loss, confusion, a welter of wounds flying thick into memory,
feelings you didn't have time for when all your effort went into
just daily survival, bubble around your feet, stinking of sea-wrack.
Perhaps these glass walls help you from feeling too much, too fast.

So the world howls when I cannot. Winds blow across
the headlands; one night in Nevada they howled like the dead
around the edges of my hotel room door, alkali, dessicant.
The dry bones of the tormented dead sifted ash
dry lake dust seeping in. That night sleep was on vacation.
Another hellride down the Sierras, road twisting away
from the headlights, you'd stop and sleep if it wasn't so cold,
but the two-lane winds away till late, leaving you vibrating
once again on valley floor. In the Basin and Range
there are no oases, just desert sojourns. Normally
that's welcome, a place to stop and listen to silence.
The glass wall between me and world, that I took for transparent,
was a parfait of silence, screams, and silence, layered between
my eyes and desert silence. Now I've nothing to show for it.

What a waste. Did I return refreshed, vacationed, relaxed,
recharged? I feel hollowed, edged far too close to the wind howl,
well aware that if I could only summon the caring I'd dissolve
into puddles of grief. But the glass wall. No shouting
in either cathedral or cemetery gloom, it's unseemly.
In Taos and Albuquerque we wandered through cathedral
gift shops, feeling for once at home. I bought some portable
saints to travel with, alongside the Ganesha statue with his club,
the bronze Buddha found at a new Mexico thrift store.
I'm not particular about my saints. I'll call eclectically on every
source of solace and protection, the thousand little gods,
those interfacial masks between us and silent godhead.
I'm a pragmatic witch, going with whatever works. No loyalty
to any path but the one I find my feet on. Glass walls keep me
from knowing what I was feeling till, spelunking, I write it all down.
Now shudders ripple through me, I cough for the first time all winter.

Lucite, perspex, indifferent vitrine, inches of plexiglass
holding out the sea from waterclap. This was no vacation,
despite desire, or desert silence, despite the wind at ocean's boom.
Instead, archaeology. The recovery of artifacts of dying,
implements of torture, a grid of bones amidst fossilized grain.
If I plant those archaic seeds, I'll fly apart. Is depression so bad,
if it keeps you from incessant weeping? If I had the will I'd break
these walls apart. Perhaps you excavate these petroglyphic bones
by starting with the sills, chipping away till the glass loosens.
Tilts out of its frame the way a painting falls at any museum,
shocked silence after whisper of archaic canvas reaches floor tiles.

Whatever. I need to come back to life. There were moments.
Afternoon light on canyon walls at Zion, dappled by clouds.
The hour around sunset at Pescadero, where waves swirled
around pelagic outcrops ancient in ancient light and incoming tide.
There was a lot of wind. End of the snowbound road at jackson Lake,
whitewalled by the plows, white snow mists cloaking the mountains,
lake frozen and drifted, white on white, every white, even these pines.
Tea and snacks by the adobe fireplace and heavy beams at the Taos Inn,
an hour after brushing by bighorn sheep running across the canyon rim.
Somewhere on a snowbound Wyoming fenceline, bald eagles and ravens
perched side by side, getting along. Sunlight converted into wine.
Frozen wild berries under naked aspen boughs. Scent of juniper and pine.
After all, despite dense inner weeds, I have come through, I have survived.

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