MINE

I delve these dark places
in forced privation
and solitude,
ever scrabbling
the stubborn ground
as a prospector must
his claim.

Though dank the soil
and deep the fear,
just close one’s eyes
so as to remind
of the distant horizon
towards I strive.

And dream,
yes, dream.

That I could recline,
garb’d most comfortably
in well-lit places,
o’erlooking Mediterranean blue,
with fine food and drink
and a vision in white,
her gauzy air,
to enjoy a conversation
or just pass the time.

DARK THINGS IN THE EARTH

We are creatures of the dark,
we inhabit the benighted places.
Vaulted chambers deep beneath the earth,
you might call caverns
what we call home.

We have not walked in the light in centuries,
and our world is as black as wet velvet,
but we see just fine
here in the shadow.

Should you stumble upon our dripping demesne
and meet us face to face,
you would recoil in horror
and the fear might drive you insane.

We are simply different
and we walked a different way.
We stood together once,
you and I,
and at a fork in the road we parted.

We cannot hear your footsteps,
or feel the thunder of your conveyance.
For here in the dark,
in the heart of the Earth,
we have found our own blissful existence.

ORDERLY

I sometimes miss the innocent love of my younger days, and I’m thankful that I can still recall it with vivid clarity. I work with a lot of people who are on death’s door; such is the lot of the palliative care orderly. Daily interactions with the deranged and forgetful, in particular the ones who’ve been cloistered away so that they’re less bothersome to their families, can be very depressing. There are days when I flip-flop on the matter; sometimes I think it’s a blessing to be out of your mind, either on drugs or from the natural degradation of synapses, because all of those nagging concerns that nibble away on the consciousness are gone, replaced by madness or simply forgotten. To be oblivious beyond your control, a true horror no doubt but only for those who observe it. On the inside there must be a rich and deep kind of nothingness, populated only by the whims of a broken-down consciousness. Me, I have to drink to get anywhere near that state, and on the way down my awareness of everything that I’ve left behind is all too present. The older I get the less it’s worth the morning after.

No, I can still remember in perfect detail those golden summer afternoons when all I lived for was to spend time in the presence of my beloved. I was young, yes, but it wasn’t my first infatuation. If I were forced to number it I believe it was the fourth time that I’d categorized the feeling as ‘love’. This one had been special, though, something about the depth of the sensation and the way it murdered the senses, it had been something I’ve yet to feel again in this long life. Perhaps we only ever get one of those, if any, or maybe it depends on circumstance and frame of mind. We are, all of us, warbling atoms seeking balanced orbits with each other, to find those copacetic bonds that both service and provide the emotional support and security necessary to get through our days. Not all of us need those, mind you. I’m certain that many of us have convinced ourselves that we can get by perfectly fine without romantic companionship. Whether or not this is convenient delusion I’ll leave up to you to decide. Me, I’ll take true love any day over the myriad other connections we can have with each other.

To have had it and lost it once in a lifetime is a gift unlike any other. I can say that now, with hindsight, because I know that while I held that love in my grasp I didn’t fully appreciate it. It was something I fed off, like a vampire, drawing strength and courage from another’s adoration and devotion. It was a symbiosis, at least that’s what I believe now. How couldn’t it have been? Most, if not all, of my loves since then have come with any number of conditions or imbalances, many of which have led to resentful breakups or passive disappearances. That one love, in the summer and fall of 1991, had simply been until it hadn’t. And how can I explain that? How can I possibly capture in mere words the soaring heights and chasmic depths our hearts traveled over the space of a few short and youthful months? Unless you too have felt such things, then I can only cast the dimmest shade for risk of blinding you with the truth that was the burning sun of our desire for one another.

I find myself reminiscing about that relationship from time to time. The memory is always a pleasant one, even if the conclusion of that time was somewhat dark and bitter. I wonder where that love went, whether the energy was somehow passed on and outward into the universe to catch two other hearts in its vice-like grip? I only know that it’s not returned since. And when I look into the vacant eyes of one of the patients under my care I think about how I’ll feel if I someday lose control over my own faculties, whether perhaps still one golden ray of those seasons long dead and cold will still penetrate my wandering senses.