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.

BEASTS

What was this fearful rhythm?
The pounding of the drum
the clapping of hands
the stamping of feet
a clarion call
to dance
to battle
I know not which.

The irresistible fire of this tribal reunion
with the animals we have been
and the animals we remain,
this inescapable nature of our reality.

I think I am watching from beyond,
outside of the circle,
yet I am the center of attention
from both within
and without.

UNFULFILLED

What curse is this?

What makes it so that the desire to create sings so much stronger than the abilities latent in the flesh and spirit? What has inflicted a vision that cannot be realized? From where does the siren call from, calling to form with the hands what the dreams have seen?

What curse is this?

To know of a love stronger than life, more precious than diamonds and softer than the caress of lips that only know how to soothe,
To know of this and not have it. Not as a possession, but as a shared thing with the object of desire, the mutual admiration and respect that only two kindred souls can ever know.
To know and not to have.

What curse is this?