Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, October 30, 2011
It is the Day of the Dead.
And. Although I say a prayer for the souls who have passed over, who are no longer with us as we knew them – while I am saying a prayer for peace and momentum on their untethered and zero-gravity journeys, wading through the deep waters of way beyond – I am saying more feverish ones for those of us still here on our spinning orblet, in our three dimensions, with our five senses, our four directions on something called a compass whose needle suggests wavering but definitive direction.
For those of us staring at our hands and picking at our cuticles, thinking about touching and not touching things. What delicacy and awkwardness we bring to our fingertips. What gripping. What releasing with what tender reluctance.
For those of us wanting to knit again, with our antiseptic and empty hands, for no apparent reason, knit too-large sweaters out of wool made from the shorn skins of animals who generously give and give and give to spinners who spin so that we can make order out of fiber and slip our arms into sleeves of comfort because our own skins are not enough, not since we became rational creatures whose blackboard equations cannot answer questions like What’s a naked uber-animal doing in a place like this? And questions like What is a rational mind without perspective? And other questions like Why didn’t they teach us that kind of perspective in school, and Who, exactly, would teach it?
For those of us left to decipher things. Decipher fortunes from cookies, and flowchart patterns of raindrops converging, and sum columns of ledgers, and the angle of the sun when the shadows make lazy giants of us and our horses and haybales, and the infinite kindness of breezes. To decipher our Calder-mobile solar system when sleep doesn’t come, and unfamiliar words spoken by familiar people, and the lay of the land as it melts in the spring under our feet, and the horizon line when we are fortunate enough to see it, and glances from strangers who may not really be strangers, and fate lines, and food lines, and stories made-up but more real than reportage. To decipher stories, stories, and always mores stories for those of us left to play our parts sometimes like sleepwalkers simply told to go back to bed.
For those of us pinned to history like butterflies on cork, lying flat and struggling to remember what it was like to fly, our micro-feet free, our macro wings stuck and slightly ripped like the sheerest of silk with a nevertheless flight-canceling hole. Those of us trying to retrieve what is past and, then, once memory is worn again like its old sweater, trying to un-knit ourselves from its suffocating and tweedy warmth and into the light of a new room-temperature day.
Those of us left here lining up shoes in our closets, and sometimes shining them, and then looking out of windows as yellow leaves stick to the windshields of cars — crimping the already piecemeal view — because of lashing rain that will turn to snow in the blink of an eye, which will remind us of all the cold and quiet things that hibernate, and wouldn’t be nice if we could hibernate for a few months, just sleep with the sleepers of the world and that part of the sleeping world that is really and truly asleep or at least seems not to dream?
Those of us not only awake but watching the hands of clocks tick around, and clouds time-lapse by, and watching birds grip their high-perch branches with tiny bony feet as if, if they let go, they would be sucked into the whipping vortex of world weather patterns. Those of us watching seeds actually grow, and cheese actually mold, watching bookmarks change their position in nightstand tomes that may or may not say anything at all.
I say prayers for the living who get up each day to light gas flames that heat water that makes tea hot enough to comfort the coldest bodies on the coldest days so we can sip it and sip it again and think to ourselves, Hey, it’s quiet here in my brain for once and I feel the sun on my shoulders like warm and golden honey; and maybe someone will be nice to me today in a way that gives me infinite hope.
I say a prayer for the living. Those left to decipher. Those left to let go — and then learn to fly again with their patchwork wings of silk and feather and dust, and powered by the beating of their hearts.