Thursday, April 17, 2014

Iphigenia's bloodline

"Oh, my darling, why is it that love makes me hate the world? It's suppose to have quite the opposite effect. I feel as though all mankind, and God, too, were in a conspiracy against us."
--Brideshead Revisited, Book 2, Chapter 1.

I watched the man bend down--
the man in the fire,
the man in the flood,
he bent, he stooped, he seemed, for a moment to stumble.

I lost sight of him in the crowd of humans running to find shelter from the rain,
He slipped out of my sight in all the tabs up on my Safari--
I usually use Chrome, though, not Safari.
Among the small little rectangles lined up at the edge of my screen--
little rectangles attached to webpages,
entrances with whole other worlds behind their doors--
are usually some articles I'm told to read for class,
a google map of some place I'm supposed to find,
and an Encyclical or two from vatican.va's treasure trove of digital documents with soothing faux-parchment backgrounds.

Somewhere between Lethe and my front porch,
I found a little Garden of Reflection,
Her hedgerows were untamable, like Sleeping Beauty's briar's but on steroids,
the greenery guarded the shiest daffodils you've ever seen,
they trembled close to the earth, too beaten down by cold to raise their heads
their golden bugle blossoms kissed the cold loam beneath them.
Their neighbors were the tulips, blanketed by a rude coverlet of snow.
The shameless exuberance of the pink buds seemed at odds with the stiff purity of their wintry blanket. The crocuses circled around the garden's centerpiece--
a pond, a perfect circle, smooth as glass,
it's surface a mirror held up to paint a portrait of the mottled, changing sky.
Charity, the pool was called.
The diminutive blooms that rimmed its edges appeared to shrink back in the ground,
Too eager to sleep in the midst of sudden and unwelcome winter.
The smooth pond had shed its icy mask,
our promised spring conceived in the depths of its cold but shining waters.
The serene and kindly pool seemed to coax the crocuses out of hiding.

The Garden was a welcome place to rest,
a moment of relief--
a burst of sunlight in the middle of a windy day
its hedgerows buffered flying icicles that cut through the sweet spring air.
I saw myself in the mirror of the pool's surface.
And was minorly appalled--to see myself outside of me.
But that is why I went there in the first place.
Not to be distracted by portraits of angels
Or the painted constellations overhead.

I went to find the pool whose waters were never rippled with discontent.
But what a shock to find a familiar face in a strange locale.
Defs not what an adventurer looks to find.
But there, beating on the crocus stem, trembling in the cold dusk air,
I saw a small bud of desire.
Too cold, too scared to do more than peep out of the earth.
Too wise to risk unfolding in this intemperate atmosphere.
It waited. It took root, and buried its tendrils deep down into the ground.
And waited.

I left the Garden.
I looked for the Gardener.
I had forgotten (a pox upon you Lethe) where he could be found.
He left no forwarding address,
He had no P.O. box,
He was, to use our modern words, "off the grid."
All he'd left were the words follow me.
To where to where to where--
my heartbeat drummed, as I ran down the darkening streets toward home.
No answer but the road ahead--
as long as the sidewalk wouldn't end, I'd follow it.

I arrived back on my doorstep, the kitchen window shining in the blue twilight.
I opened up the door, was greeted by a smile
and the smell of baking bread and pasta sauce.
The kitchen sink was clean, but the dish-drainer overflowing--
I love to wash the dishes, but I do so loathe drying them--
a vanilla scented candle was burning on the table,
and a peach one in the half-bath down the hall.
Flowers in wine bottles were scattered across the landscape of the room.
The television played Branagh's Much Ado, 
so I sighed along with Emma Thompson:
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee.

The man reached down to wake the sleeping figure in the pew.
The Body of Christ, he whispered quietly.
Startled from his slumber, the small, frail figure had no words, but reached out for the small white host.
The man stood up, straightened his frame and smiled his blessing on his sleepy elder.
When we awaken from our slumber, we too will grasp for our daily bread,
and pray that we will have the courage,
courage to receive what our wages can never purchase
with the humility of the crocus.

Here lie the sighs, the vowels torn from their roots,
Why the cry, the cry "us" the cry us, human?
--Caridad Svich, Blood Work

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