with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
– W. S. Merwin
I’ve been writing elsewhere, in silence, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is the fantasy of secrecy; perhaps mere shyness. But does reason matter? What matters is: I’ve abandoned this place for far too long, and I miss this broader and more treacherous home.
Certain things are perfect. (I am not one of them, but even this is a matter of perspective; given enough times, everything disintegrates into the necessary.) Today the rain was perfect, and perfect was the day, and there was even something perfect in the sugared glass and metal tissue and throbbing lights and twisted faces of the car accident that slowed my slow way home.
Thanksgiving is next week. Last Thanksgiving M. was three weeks into a three month caging in a windowless detention center; this Thanksgiving it will be enough to spend together. And there is so much more, from the growing being in the belly of my sister to my marriage and slow shuffle east, from this house and our home and our hurrying business to our move and our love and our everything.
Still, no matter how much I give it, the past gulps down each new day as if starving. How can anyone stand living at the brink of the world? I keep peering over the edge, and it is dizzying.
I hold awe and wonder in too high esteem. Or no–that’s not it. It’s more that I tend to helplessly collapse into such perspectives as a default: when I don’t know or don’t understand something, I naively assume a mysterious and wonderful depth; when I encounter the new, or the old, or am asked to consider, I end up helplessly stumbling into the marvelous. For me the proverbial grass-elsewhere is not so much greener, but imbued with some sort of transcendent mystical promise.
In relationships, be they platonic or romantic or professional, this tends to be a gift: I’m rarely disabused of the assumption, and many people–for the most part, it seems–not only prove to be strangely and marvelously enigmatic, but appreciate being acknowledged as such. In other arenas, though, this tendency toward romanticism quivers between heartbreak and an embarrassing foolishness. I keep thinking I’ll grow out of it, but if anything it keeps getting worse. (Is there a career or profession that is the opposite of a critic? I wish I could spend my life pointing out what is frighteningly beautiful in things.)
Ah well. There are worse problems to have, certainly, and certainly there are worse attitudes with which to feel flooded.
Also, I have been having the most hideous dreams.
This week has been a week of flights and waiting (yes, these days the two are nearly synonymous) and family and celebration and Christmas. This week melted like snow into the warmth of ritual and reunion, and I feel I am still savoring it all.
We arrived home this evening, to a city of licking rain and fog from plains of whited ice and astringent cold, and though the journey was wonderful the sensation of casting one’s poor exhausted body into the placid security of a familiar home has a sweetness no strangeness can touch. Home has its own delights, and its grateful embrace of clumsily-packed luggage and mud-slung coats is gentler and more perfect than that of even the most considered hotel. (Strange that I’d never considered–nor imagined–myself competent in the strange art of home-making; strange to realize that despite myself the patient gods of the hearth have elected to knit a place for me here.)
Is this year almost over? I am not sure whether to race in exhausted relief toward the next, or to brace myself for another hurricane of expectation, or to shut my eyes and turn around and fall happily backwards into a snow-angel of beauty and trust and unfathomable chill. It is funny to think that try as I might, I might be capable only of all three.
Today the sun stood still in declination; today the world only slivered before the coming of the night; today tonight rushed forth in happy ecstasy; today, or now, dawn is nearly here.
It’s four in the morning, and my nocturned self is gratefully watching another sleeping, finally, beneath the weight of a heavy past. It’s four, and I can only breathe.
The past three months–three months! I’d last hugged M goodbye on October 17th; ICE released him that same day in December–feel as disturbingly faint and inconsequential as an ugly dream. We’ve been within seconds of each other since (the one time he did slip out alone–ostensibly to visit a friend–he returned with armloads of roses). The world is whole again.
I imagine that parenthood is one of those life events that forces an entire reevaluation of not only one’s attitudes, but one’s foundational assumptions of the world; I imagine that having a child can’t help but result not only in the extension of a new scale of time, but a new baseline of significance, where the treasure of one’s own life somehow pales in comparison to the life of this new and unspeakably perfect being. I suppose it can’t quite be the same, but I remember feeling a similar lightning bolt of unexpected and unimaginable certainty when I met M (over seven years ago, which seems both forever and yet only an instant), and remember the dizzying reciprocation, and the humbling and sweet process of togethering a new worldview in light of it. I am usually a flexible and accepting person, but to have our future challenged–or even just interrupted–like that just did and does not fall within the realm of my own understanding. (His lawyers couldn’t believe immigration had acquiesced; I couldn’t believe they’d taken so long to do so.) In any case, it seems the various letters and calls and enlistments helped. In any case, from here it will be ever so much more easy.
I would wish for everyone to know a love such as this in their own lives, and in the same breath would never want anyone to have to go through such an unwanted procedure of caged separation.
I am so happy to have him home.
I am delirious with happiness and exhaustion (I picked him up last night and we drove back together and sleep after that proved hopeless; we were up until dawn stunned-but-not-speechless at this sudden freedom and dizzying reversal of seemingly unalterable circumstance) but, for the first time in months, feel whole.
Love makes life so very tenuous, and so achingly worthwhile, and I am merely grateful that both he and my heart survived.