Tuesday, January 18, 2005

An Unwinding Sheet

Stop then.

Gather the few shreds around my shoulders. Step out onto the balcony. The glorious glittering blaze of stars; the night wind in the beach pines. Cast back.

If it is really true, then what I am doing with my life is almost entirely wrong.

If it is not really true, then what I am doing with my life is only largely wrong.

A familiar move of my mind. "Heads I win, tails you lose." Hardly adequate, in this case. Stop. Stop hard.

My jury-rigged life has set, and turned rigid, without my ever noticing. My careless, temporary solutions have petrified, and rule my minutes, and the rhythm of my breathing, and the frozen cant of my shoulder-blades.

Stop. This takes some delicacy. Peel back the thread.

Arcturus, glowing fiery orange. Have I forgotten so soon? I gave you to Tina, back when I was building all this. But that's a dead end, too. Start again. Find the end of the thread, thick-crusted, hardening. Peel again. Don't mind the fingernails. They'll grow back.

Vega, then. The first star. That brilliant clear sapphire in the triangle-headed parallelogram of Lyra. What was made when I made that? That's a closer question. Not good enough, still, though. Stop again.

When I got down on my knees in the wet grass, to wash my hands in the cold black water, I saw the stars jumping and skipping on the surface, changing places, as they're never allowed to do up in the sky. No wonder they come down here to play.

If I could take a whirling leap, and throw myself into the sky, if I could steal this one fire, I could back up far enough, maybe. To come before the thread was wound in the first place. No need to unwind the thread -- just back up. Such a seductive idea. But that's to think in nouns. Not good enough. We are an older race, a bitter, dying people. It's not our place to talk about beginnings. These are the ending stars. Our job is not to steal fire. It's to watch all the fires go out.

Now we're beginning. Taste this, before the end.

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