So beautiful I could cry.
Friendship is a mysterious ephemeral thing. We all do know from experience that no one gives us anything for nothing. Everything has its price. And yet sometimes, rarely, once or twice in a lifetime, someone looks at us and their heart is so brimming with compassion that it spills out through their eyes and they offer us something that no one should ever offer; something so good one usually keeps it all to one’s self. True love, pure love, friendship, compassion.
One and the same, these many words, these many unhinged words.
I have lately made very good friends with a big green reptile with razor sharp teeth and a hefty appetite. What he hungers mostly for is watermelon, and purple cabbage, and green grapes, but now and again he pretends to want to eat from my hand just so that he can get a taste of my fingers to determine whether or not he’d be better off just eating me and foregoing all social niceties. Here in this special place, he looks at me from behind alloyed bars and nods to his empty food dish while I try to press all of the stray voices out of my head. He has no need for words. He only knows hunger and pleasure.
My life again. Wondering about the story of my life, how it will read, what it will awaken in the reader. Will my life bring others to life? Or will it go out like a light, extinguished with a clap so that only empty darkness will remain? What has been done to us? Have we really done this to ourselves? Have we betrayed ourselves so that we are no longer free? No longer free to live.
I lived in Lake Elsinore for years but I didn’t really know where it was that I lived, I didn’t know that these streets meant, what the lake itself meant, what memories were buried under the burning asphalt of its wide streets. So I made it my job to find out.
Now I look at a dead ship and I feel that it looks back at me, I feel that it is in me, in a different incarnation.
The Lake Elsinore princess was imported from Long Beach to be made a spectacle of in a mud hole imbued with mystical powers. From its glass bottom, the denizens of this fair town enjoy looking down past their sandals at the murky green water fed by over 300 hidden springs and the San Jacinto river. The great lake eventually degenerated to the rank of a puddle lost at the center of a pestilent pit of mud laden with decaying fish, their eyes eaten out by the very gnats that they themselves had once eaten. The cattle got stuck in the muck in search of water, and there they mooed mournfully until the heat did them in. Then the gnats could start on them too, joined by the turkey vultures and crows, who cleaned away the carcass until only the bones gleamed white under the glaring sun, before returning to their post in the big blue sky, circling and waiting for the next bovine to expire. At the heart of the puddle a small geyser erupted and a fountain of sulfurous water the color of blood gushed wretchedly, flaunting itself before the thirsty herds.
It is by this mud hole that I lived my early years, it is here that I learned what the world looked like, what it should be, what it meant and how it worked.
No longer free to live. More unhinged words. Free. Live. They have all come undone. Words and more words. They all mean nothing because they refer to experiences that we have never had, experiences that our parents have never had, I certainly never caught a glimpse of them from the edge of my drying lake.
Someone did have these experiences, once upon a time, someone must have. Bursting with the heavy burden of newfound knowledge, he endeavored to explain, to share by virtue of oral communication, spilling pearls out onto the grimy sidewalk before pig faced orphans that grabbed them all up and snuffled them and rubbed them in sweaty hands and passed them on to a new generation of piglets.
There are still a few fools rattling around out there, a few who have had the experience and then watered at the eyes realizing that they had said compassion, they had said love, they had said discipline, responsibility, freedom, but had never experienced any of them until this moment. Now in this unique and eternal moment the words meant something, for the first time ever.
There in an empty overwhelming darkness that clings to us on all sides. This one life, this one moment, perhaps infinitely more complex than we realize, like the insides of a pomegranate.
Can it be lit like a fuse? Make it bright, dazzling for a moment so that we can see the delicate tendrils that connect so much to so much else?
I will do it with pictures, with stories.
I imagine that eventually the world will be covered in ash and all that I have known will be forgotten. By then there will be no one left but roving bands of mutant cannibals with eyeballs blinking from their shoulders, the survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Their ancestors will have drifted to the bottom of the pot and wallowed in the darkness of underground shelters and they will have eaten glowing green roots to sustain themselves and they will have died by age 12 of cancer but not before producing some deformed offspring to ensure the survival of the species.
By the time those marauding bands of cannibals traipse over this desert that was once a lake, they will not have an inkling that the world was ever otherwise. They will never even dream that anything secret lies buried beneath their feet, any more than you now suspect some lost civilization might be buried deep beneath your laundry room or the local mall. Like you, they will not spend much time imagining the strange life forms that they may have evolved from, they will do this no more than you fantasize about your beginning as a humble single celled amoebae drifting aimlessly through the hot seas.
Enough time passes and the slate is wiped clean.
All things are forgotten in time.
Small crimes disappear, larger infractions get smudged, blurred like a poorly developed photograph until no one can remember what happened clearly. Those on one side of the event will have a vague feeling of displeasure that signifies that some overly intense feeling of rage or sorrow or jealousy has been buried under the sands of the hour glass.
Those on the other side may forget entirely. Eventually both parties will be sent to lay six feet below the green grass, under the timid wild flowers that are considered by trained gardeners to be weeds. Their flesh will rot and peel away from their bones and it will be consumed by worms, some of whom will suffer some slight indigestion due to the overly spicy emotion that had boiled down into sleepy forgetfulness like a film on top of hot soup whilst the most potent component separated and drifted to the bottom of the pot, the innermost chamber of the heart accessible only by the aorta.
The slate gets wiped clean, and whoever is has always been and will always be, until the slate gets wiped clean again, and again, and again, so that ages of strange dreams are layered one on top of the next like the steppes of an enormous wedding cake or the steps of one of those pyramids that once stood in the wet jungles beneath the equator with blood flowing down their grandiose stairs. Those that are now, they walk over the ghosts of those that were, and beneath them, the ghosts of what will be, completely unsuspecting of the fact that they may be under the influence of these worlds imperceptible to them.
They used to cart people down here to this lake in wheelchairs to dip them in the water. The hot sulfur ran from the tap in every house in the valley until the 1960’s, turning the children’s teeth yellow. At the bathhouse built in 1884 they built a swimming pool in the 1920’s. A little boy drowned in it though and after that they filled it up.
Dogs, no doubt, do not think of what they don’t know. Like you and I, what they are seems to them worthy of perpetuation into infinity, so they hump in the streets and dig in garbage bins and evade the dog catcher with as much zest for life as you or I.
The confines of the animal mind are so safe and self assured, why ever would we dare to dream that something lies beyond the border of our own encapsulated consciousness. That would only lead to a headache of enormous proportions, to the splitting of one’s self into pieces so that the insides flow out like melting Jell-O to rejoin the primordial jell of the universe that lies beyond animal confines.
There is something outside of our perception, distilling at the bottom of the cauldron while we bubble dreamily at the surface before bursting into oblivion.
We will not remain, not as we have come to know ourselves. We will be forgotten. Terribly and mercilessly forgotten.
Meanwhile, some thing rattles down in the bottom of the kettle informing the next set of bubbles on the surface of the particular shapes it might take based on where they stand in the pyramid’s construction. We are churned from the cream skimmed off of the top.
All things are forgotten in time
Look at the woman sitting on the flat trailer bed in her red and white striped dress, singing, while the man drives the tractor round in circles. What does it tell you?
The buildings are stretched squares making them rectangular and they are frosted with white stucco and pale blue stucco and the pigeons stand around kissing on top as though they were the adornment of a dirty wedding cake. The thick black power lines hang crossing and re-crossing over the streets, making the sky into a piece of modern art when viewed through the eyes of the round boy in his stained white shirt and black pants looking up as the flock of pigeons flies from one frosted rooftop to the other, basketball gripped under his arm. There are iron bars on the windows and gates in the garages and front entry ways so that small brown girls stand behind them looking out like prisoners before retreating to ride pink plastic tricycles in the gloom. At the end of the street the chain link fence stands between the apartments and rows of head stones besieged by mustard yellow lichen, keeping company with decaying bouquets of both organic and synthetic flowers. A fence to protect the dead from the living, and a wide green lawn punctured by words, where memories go to slowly fade away.
A mysterious, ephemeral thing.
So beautiful I could cry.