Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tête-à-tête


Darkness gradually conquers the landscape outside.  Soon, nearby details are barely discernible, sinking into an ocean of ink.  From time to time the lights of a passing village blink in the distance.

The low hum of the metal leviathan, within its dim cavity we are carried, nearly lulls me to sleep.  The lit dashboard at the front offers some reassurance. 

Across the narrow isle, a heavyset man beside a middle-aged woman.  White strands weave through her auburn hair.  Seated by the window, her face is turned toward him.  Eyes open wide.  Pale lips.  Her voice is low and slightly hoarse, and her speech is slow.  The words nearly get entangled in one another.  She weighs each one carefully as if not to trip. 

About her father she is talking.  In a village on the northern planes, where the land is vast and the intervening houses are few, he lives alone in an old house atop a hill.  During the long winters a thick layer of ice covers the ground, and smoke eddies out of his chimney into the grey skies.  

“He had built the house himself some fifty years back,” she carries on, the words now ease out of her mouth in a smoother flow. “And he says he shall remain there, come what may.”

From the corner of my eye I see her companion nodding.  The conversation lowers to a whisper, and I turn to look outside again.  Save for our dashboard and headlights, we are as if floating in an empty space made of solid blackness. 

Shouldn’t have we crossed through the big city by now?  Was our destination altered?  I haven’t seen any side-road signs in a while.  My eyes slowly shut by themselves, I doze off, and when I open them again, we are still immersed in darkness.   

Or is it the white of the icy northern-land that I see far on the horizon?


Friday, September 13, 2013

Elisabeth


If I thought your death would be the end, it has but
marked the beginning; my insistent dreams keep
bringing you back. The old you, not
the latter you, who was broken and feral
like a crazed alley cat.

The old you, when you were swimming
in an ocean of hope, away
from a shadowy past, away
from those who knifed you.
When you moved through miles of scar
tissue, and I admired
your every stroke.

This evening, in a downtown bar, I spoke
to a woman who had your slightly
down-pointing corners of the mouth, thin
long hair, pale complexion. Even the ethereal
frameless spectacles. Looking well
and lively—light raying
from her gleaming eyes—she chortled
with the laugh you had before
despair stole it away.

I never died, I wished
her to speak; my cheeks are rosy, my
spirit high, and I’m now going to order
another glass of chardonnay!

Elisabeth, I miss you so.

Am I to mourn you for the rest
of my days, carry sacks of longing
in my chest, keep looking up at the vacant
windows each time I walk down your street?

No, we would surely meet
again, and we would run through a sun-drenched
meadow, flowers woven in our hair. 
Not the survivors of harsh circumstances, 
but lighthearted creatures of spring days.
As we’d emerge from the earth, leaping
forth joyfully, the ground shall tremble
in six directions, and we would rise high and dance!