Saturday, June 5, 2010

12. The Shining Path

Where we have been is more of what we are
than what we have done. We are filled with place,
and that is why you and I never stop
moving. Travel is living, stasis is death.

I have lived here,
in this fine house, bluestone and clapboard,
for seventeen years, and until those
seventeen had not lived in one place
long enough to unpack. I am no longer
living my life, living instead that life
of the man who has succeeded me, and
it a fine life, but motionless. Still,
I move, traveling this state, this country,
occasionally beyond that boundary
that has held me in for so long. I am a citizen
of four continents and nine countries, a man
undefined by place, but defined by places. Stay
in a play too long, and you begin
to understand its character. And can’t
fathom that.

You ache, in a way, for a visit
to the Wienermobile, for the chance to see
something else than what
you have so long seen. You want the surprise
of something new or strange, of a place
not seen, a music of different voices, even if
there are limitations to how different
the earth is from itself. You know life
is limited and opportunity meager,
so you make the attempt
to prove it, to see
for yourself, the only person
you can never leave, the one you
are traveling for, the one who needs to
experience so that he can remember and tell
others of his memories. Without a life,
we have nothing to talk about. Without
traveling, we have no life.

My shtick is homelessness, the idea
I am from nowhere because I’m from everywhere.
There are times when I cannot quite recall
the location of a memory of mine, when I cannot
narrow it down to a continent. Life is a muddle
of expectations and occurrences, and we find it difficult
to tell the two apart. Maybe if I could live in Asia,
I could separate those experiences
from the rest of the world, or I might confuse
them with Australia, where I have
never been. I don’t have the memory you do,
the ability to recall details of the past,
of those places I’ve lived or visited.
I am, instead, visited by glimpses
of a past I might have lived or might
have remembered nevertheless.

The irony of this note of mine
has nothing to do with that point. Instead, it is
that I am always so slow at responding to
a real letter, inscribed on paper and mailed out
in hope of a response. I am merely a human,
unable to make consistent sense, contradicting
my own dicta. I am writing these notes as penance
for a life partially lived and a life lost,
for all the poems I forgot to write, for the books
not read, for the people left without
answers, or responses, for all the places
never visited, maybe not yet, maybe
sometime. Because there is some life left
in us, some time to move forward, and every
movement is forward, into this flickering
approximation of our lives, boxes of cities
left to unpack, crates of forests only a crowbar
can break open, and deserts reaching
beyond our imagination, their suns so hot
we bow our heads beneath them out of
deference. For our lives are made for moving,
for pushing away the idea that we cannot
do something we have never done.

For we are made for travel, have covered
the globe with our ancestors’ feet, and we realize
that we make the world only
when we visit it.

No comments:

Post a Comment