When we’re in pain, to whom can we stretch out a hand? Who’s still there to hold us in the split-second that precedes the fall? Who can anticipate it is at that moment we shall keel over? At that
moment we must run to help? And when you’re all alone, you can speak out loud and hope and wager someone out there’s going to hear. Humans close off their ears to suffering. God? God in his
absence. We’re alone, Professore, we’re alone.
The Sacrifice is done. At the end of transcendence, at the end of the possibility of better worlds? Why? What sacrifice? For the work! As a good writer said: the body becoming book, or becoming painting, it’s the same thing. Leaving the biological body for something different which is definitively non-biological. That’s what they can’t understand at all. A question of sensations. And our way of leaving biology is our particular style, if we’re good enough to have one. The will is a stain left on the page by our passing bodies. The poet’s honest food is tears. He senses the tug of something eternal linked to the music of another time. An image can conjure up this temporality. A good writer must live there. I am not what you see. My fingers write burnt by the third degree.
Il Professore died this morning. Of all folk I know and knew, he was probably the one who most helped me down this way of words. He took the jump. His suffering too great, he decided it was time for death to take him. He killed himself. He decided to stop eating. He had just enough strength to pull his wheelchair to the window. The wind and all his words and all his ideas tumbling to the ground. My Professore’s eyes closed on this life with mine regurgitating their centuries of grief. You suffered the physical consequences of bad luck. And now my eyes are stinging in retreat. There is no point speaking to me. My grief cannot be heard. My eyes communicate with dark soils. I plunge my hands down and dig at the crust. I roll about and clutch my ankles. I lie on my back and cross my legs. I outstretch my arms and press the palms up. Just as they carry you away for good now. Just as they banish your handsome face forever, closed in a wooden box. As if your memory could find a box big enough.
And now they have dug a grave for you, a cold hole in the mud. And they put a stone cave above your neck. Just like the others. Just like the others that got carried away too. The eighteen year old villager hit by a car, the mechanic with cancer, the 93 year old granny. Their bodies lined up under the earth, waiting for impossible affection. Just like the others, you lie in your best suit and tie. Your sun tanned face smiling at the closed vents of blackness. And whenever the passion plays, I shall seek out a landscape for my eyes to sit and weep and think of you. Why don’t they feel this passion? How can they laugh and mock so easily? It is the collusive mob which you depicted so well, their sinister weakness and their eyelashes clogged up in the blood they sheepishly spill. I’ll sit at the memorial and sing the optimism of eternal life which you had obtained long before you died. I can feel your cold stony hand closed around mine forever.
How do you expect me now to believe in this body, this time, this space? When we cannot tolerate being pinned down to any single spot? We are everywhere already as we come. Just as we move through the folds of memory, as fluid timeless bodies. I leave utopia. Everything I say is practical and proven by fact. I am an empiricist, a rogue to the State. Yet, we are talking of the Spirit now. What would become of us? What of our worldly memories? Of our minds? And this faith in another life? An afterlife? St. Augustin imagined himself in the company of angels, marvelling at images of a perfectly peaceful bliss. St Francis of Assissi had the certainty of an afterlife. Paradise was a just accomplishment for those who had followed the Christian way. What gave them such faith? How could they be so sure? What disturbing meditations lay in ambush for those who could not allow themselves such blind faith? What sounds, what words formed of sounds scratched across the blank tambourine of this notebook can render our intellectual turmoil as I ruminate upon such questions? I have surrendered the body.
I felt il professore’s spirit invade my mind and I suddenly realised how close he still was to me. I imagined his essence no longer knew the slightest boundary and could alight in all those who thought strongly of him. Thus our love for him could live and claim a long life. And simultaneously, I lamented that if no one thought of him, supposing that were so, then his spiritual existence would become ephemeral if not extinct and his newly found ubiquity would not be of the slightest use to him. In this sense, an afterlife would still be linked to this earthly existence. Indeed, he would be condemned to a vigil before his successors’ memories. I imagined the afterlife was a facet of memory. I computed that if writing was the greatest exploration of memory known to man and that writing was nigh an extinct practise then humanity would soon lose any rational link to the afterlife, leaving only superstition and magic in its place, and that death as reflexion would soon die for lack of thought, and writing would follow rapidly behind, leaving spontaneous chatter and sounds to placate the anxiety of the world become mass. Here I am again, crying. The world dies, you die, I die. We are dead. Serve me a drink. I can still drink: red ruby wine. Deep black spices from the Mediterranean. Poor olive oil from my groves. Feel my throat sting. Chew on the wild rocket, sun dried tomatoes. Cling to my loved ones and write poems for nobody.
From The Eyes of a Man
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