Sonata

I have always been fascinated by,
no, drawn to hermetic worlds,
realms which possess a strange independence
of reality,
yet can, if but for the briefest of moments,
invade our everyday, accepted existence,
set up impossible citadels in its midst
and parade their own more perfect versions of life,
like peacocks strutting about some staid and
too familiar garden.
This is why
at a very young and impressionable age
I was drawn to classical music.
Within the duration of each song,
an impossibly delicate and beautiful world
asserted itself,
an image of perfection that
mocked the world’s all too common ugliness.
And, of course, such an irrational insistence
that existence could be so painfully sweet,
must at length succumb to the
undeniable logic of the real world;
nothing can be without decay.
There is no such world.
Yet in its very fragility, classical music,
the music of Bach, of Mozart,
found its most potent form of revolt;
because it dared to exist, irrationally
against the collapsing tide,
the world that our rotting bones accept.
Until I was twenty years old,
such sealed off worlds only existed
in books, art, music,
worlds pristinely locked between two covers,
two numbers in time, within a gilt frame,
until the winter of my twentieth year.

When I was twenty years old I fell in love
for the first time in my life.
Like me, she believed in impossible worlds.
But it must not be imagined that
either of us were ever consciously aware of this.
It was simply something there,
in the poetry we both adored,
the music we shared,
the brief electric moments we both divined
instinctively;
a black cat guarding a temple gate,
an unpremeditated act,
a dance under a neon sign,
a purple world the size of a street corner
that existed only once and never again.
Within a very short time of our first meeting
we were both utterly lost to the outside world,
lost to friends, to study,
even to the too bright sunshine of harsh winter days.
We both lived in a dormitory and had, at first,
only made casual visits to each other’s rooms.
We would talk into the night,
deep nights, like miners after another’s secrets.
Our hermetically sealed world would appear,
and the night outside was then like two giant palms
cupped over our fevered voices.
Soon she had moved permanently into my
small room,
a bed, a desk, a walled hemisphere
that became the extent of our knowledge of the world.
Around this time, we stopped attending classes,
or seeing other people.
We ventured out of our burrow only to gather
necessities,
in the middle of the night,
beneath the cupped palms of night.
But strangely, within this proscribed world,
the universe of our bodies gained immense latitudes,
it was enough to explore our fears,
fierce archipelagos,
traversed from headland to wild headland.
Beneath an emaciated lamplight
we lived centuries in anger and love,
lust and boredom, hatred and exhaustion.
The more disheveled her love became,
the more I found that I needed her.
One night she said she hated me,
and I flung myself beneath a cold July moon.
I walked until a frigid solitude had entered every bone.
When I returned, hours later,
I found her sitting on my bed,
smiling,
in an orange glow that came from
somewhere outside my bedroom window.
She had sat there alone in the dark,
blissfully burning the brief wick of her love.
Of course it couldn’t last.
We were doomed from the beginning,
in our childish defiance of the real world.
It had gone on all the while,
threads had slowly entered our realm of
forgetfulness,
pried open the silken box,
and entwined themselves around our limbs.
It was about this time that she left my room,
at first little forays into the alien morning,
then longer and longer sojourns,
into the intoxicating danger,
the newness of the reality we had denied.

Our brief world of perfection was over,
defiant, unreasonable continents
of bodies, hours and silences,
a richness that still suffuses me
with its beauty and melancholy,
the way a sonata lingers on the wide open windows,
on the naked branches of a tree beyond,
against a piercing blue sky that could be her heart.

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