Friday, December 14, 2012

Navigating By Falling Stars

We are still a bit forward in time.

It is nights like these that remind him of his journey and path, the test.

He returns home onto the island, runs the dark lonely road past Bauers Farm and then the tough turn through Todd’s Farm, and he is home. 

In just a few small hours he has navigated the dull and oppressive lights of the city, his old home, and found his way across the Black Marsh to a place were the sole and lonely light sits beneath the flag pole by the Post Office, just around the corner, that opens at seven and closes at four.  It gets dark here, and he is okay with this.

His ride home back to the island is troublesome.  He smokes and spits blood out the window into the cold winter’s air.  There is no music; Just the keening of the diesel’s low rumble and an echo of a voice of love so very far away.

Tonight he went back.  He has done this once before, only once.  This time he was closer to his old home than he has ever been.  A friend, a brother, for better or worse, wanted to sit and pretend that everything was okay, alright.  And so he went back.  And it was, okay.

And nothing had changed.  It was all the same.

Some new paint, stronger bar stools and eleven televisions, but it was as if he had never left. 

The same drunks rolled in and out.  The bar keeps hadn’t changed.  And no one knew why he had disappeared.  They heard rumours and speculated, but they didn’t know.  They just assumed he had “moved on”.  They never knew he was pushed away, forced out.

And so he was embraced…again, like always. 

But it wasn’t enough to make him feel like he was home.  In his heart he knew that he was so far away that he could never find his way back to this place that was once his.  And uglier still, he never wanted to go to this place again.

“Fuck these fools, God bless them.  Their cages need to be rattled, they aren’t living.” 

Nothing had changed.

Only him.

And as the dusk fell, and the phony dark of the city night crept in, he bid them all farewell and charted the new familiar course towards his home on the edge of the world.

And as he headed out into the black, the real dark, lit only by stars; his phone began to ring.  Call after call came in.  Word had spread that he was out and tangible, real once again, and everyone wanted a piece. 

But the calls were never returned.  He had enough for one day and drew up the drawbridge that traversed the black waters between him and all those good souls that wanted or needed something from him. 

Only one thing, one soul could ease his weary head and make it all make sense. 

This is why he didn’t listen to music as he diesel rumbled his way back home; this is why the windows were down and the cold salt wind blew in through the windows of the truck…

He was trying to hear her voice.

If he kept the engine at a low gurgle and grunt, around 1500 RPM, he could almost hear her…and she was singing.  It was something unfamiliar, but he was sure it was Joan Baez.

He hates Joan Baez, but loves when she sings her to him.  It reminds him that he has his angel on.

He rumbles up to his cottage of exile on the black water. 

There are Christmas lights on neighbor’s houses, and still the lone light at the Post Office, illuminating the tattered flag that only comes down when there is almost nothing left to remind them of the wind that never ends and pulls their skin tight across their faces.

He steps out of the truck and begins to walk the few steps towards home.  There is no light on to guide his way.  Why should there be?  It is only him.

And just before stepping onto the porch, he stops.

A star, brilliant white, shoots over his head, over his exile, and out into black water beyond.

And he freezes, cannot move.  He just stands in the weird crazy dark of distant Christmas lights and waits.  What ever light there is down here, while comforting and giving of peace, means nothing when compared to the lights above that sometimes rain down upon us. 

And it all makes sense, “Fuckin’ Christ, it’s the Geminid Shower.  I am an asshole.”

So he goes inside, grabs a quick bite to eat, packs a cooler with beer, and then heads out onto the pier and waits to watch the heavens fall over the black water.

And as the stars rain down through the soft salty breeze, he is sure he hears her voice, gently singing.

It might be Joan Baez, but he wants it to be Leonard Cohen.

Either way, it doesn’t matter.

He is just comforted knowing that even though she isn’t with him, here on the pier on such a stellar night…

She is.

The black water that divides them, is nothing compared to the onyx infinite sky above, that draws them back to one another, through a sea of falling, brilliant white, stars.

    "And maybe I'm the man that's wading out into the night, singing don't fall thru the stars."

1 comment:

  1. A certain French philosopher, who shall not be named, speaks of striated and smooth spaces. A certain Mediterranean student of sea stories, who shall not be named, opines that all navigation is striation. We draw grids upon space, As and Bs and Cs and Zs, lines and points and routes and courses, that help us achieve what we think is navigation. Our lines are determined by the points of desired destination, our courses chosen in line with our goals.

    But it is when the crazy chief mate throws the sextant overboard, when the binnacle is blinded by the reflection of the noon sun and incapable of showing that the compass needles have been reversed, that moment of discovery that the map was a subjective rendition of some charter's mind all along, that smooth space begins.

    It is when, like Polynesian islanders, one can navigate by the stars themselves, that the journey begins. When points are erased, and all that is left are lines, vectors, and courses. It is when one says "home is where you are" that life begins.

    And navigation by falling stars? That, my love, is art. You have come so far that the air is rare and the blood hypoxic, and there aren't many fellow travelers around. But you know everything.

    "The rain falls down on last year's man,
    an hour has gone by
    and he has not moved his hand.
    But everything will happen if he only gives the word;
    the lovers will rise up
    and the mountains touch the ground.
    But the skylight is like skin for a drum I'll never mend
    and all the rain falls down amen
    on the works of last year's man."