Friday, February 24, 2017

Letter to a Critically Ill Friend Who Has No Fight Left

Dear M:

I don't know, quite, how you are physically feeling.  I say "quite" because I've had excruciating but brief experiences with ventilators for surgery, and long and worse experiences with nasal-gastric tubes after surgery.  I know what it is to keep on only because of my dog.  I know a little about wanting to die but my body itself has never taken me to that brink.

That is a betrayal indeed.  It's bad enough that mood disorders threaten the ice we skate on, but to have one's body, in the prime of life, exhaust itself and one's spirits, is beyond understanding.

You say you have no will to fight after this intensive bout of a week.  You're allowed that statement and that feeling.  You're physically and spiritually exhausted -- or perhaps bankrupt is a better word.  At a negative balance.  No one but you can state your feelings in this critical time.

But here is what I would say in a poem if I had the calm and wherewith all to write a poem:

There is a murre squawking over the division of the remains of a perch.  The murre is drab under the tarnished sky; the perch is the color of sand.  The tide is rising and the murre, arguing with a plover, will have to win or lose this argument quickly or the perch will be submerged & sucked back to see.

You are on a rock, watching this.  Behind you, on the hill leading to the car park, sheep sorrel is in pathetic bloom but there are wild roses enough to think of coming back to pick the hips for jelly, for tea.  The roses are massy and cheerful beyond countenance, but you will stop on your climb back up the asphalt path to study them, then to study one.
It is a pale, pale pink, almost white; a clean bell to crawl into but for the shaggy gold stamen that promises everything and wants only one: the pollen of another wild rose.  You will wonder if it's doomed to wither unfertilized or if bees have been ineluctably drawn to that fat wreath of pollen and the nearly invisible stigma where its life might begin another season.

It is windy.  It's always windy on the Cape.

But it hasn't rained.

There are other visitors here: locals out for a stroll, a very few tourists narrating their iPhone videos.  "This is the dramatic scenery of Cape..." And his wife fills in, "...Kiwanda" to finish the panoramic shot.

They haven't read, or haven't understood that what lies before them shouldn't exist.  Only Haystack Rock, stern and dark as a priest in the confessional, keeps the storms from gobbling the beach and the soft stone around you.  It's big, Haystack.  But big enough to preserve the place you sit since Mesolithic times?

I tell you now, here, that is when sheep were domesticated, and goats.  The ice was receding from Sweden and Denmark, making way for pastry and Hans Christian Anderson.  Jericho was thriving.  The Sahara was as wet and fertile as the Rogue Valley.

I'm a handy one at quick research and a pocketful of unrelated facts.

But imagine: trading deer meat for two sheep.  The warmth, the softening of the lanolin in a hardscrabble life.  Practicing the trombone in the rock tower soldier's keep in Jericho.

Every epoch has its new pleasures and discoveries and unwitting consequences.

Which is why you will study the pink-fading-to-white rose: are there bees enough to have made love to this particular, unremarkable rose that only you will know with such intimacy that you will never forget it?

Somethings are beyond the camera lens.  Beyond words.  This is communion.  It will become a part of you.  It will grow in you,  It will die with you.  You are its witness even though its purpose is only to receive the pollen of the last rose visited.  In this, the rose is at odds with itself: the survival of color and perfume, the survival of having been scrutinized among all its sisters, loved so well for a few moments that it will stain your eyelids as you fall asleep tonight,

This is a true story that hasn't been lived yet.

You will leave knowing the murre has eaten, that drab holds wild roses, wild thoughts, the wilderness of you.

1 comment:

Denial Mofi said...

I was surprised that you're not more popular because you certainly have the gift.
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