Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Collage: Blurring the Line Between Memory and Nightmare, II

[Please see the first installment in this series.]



All this pain is an illusion . . . .

Rather than eat watermelon, which for some reason I didn't want to do, I once set fire to the palm tree on our patio. I was maybe six or so, and I blamed the wind for the conflagration, said some embers from the bar-b-q must have set the tree on fire. I didn't have to eat the watermelon.

Ashes, ashes, they all fall down.

Many years later, I set our field on fire just to see what would happen. Two acres of grasses burned that day. What happened was that I had to cut a willow branch that my father used to whip me. That was the last fire I ever set.


We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment,
We are choosing to be here right now. Hold on, stay inside...
This holy reality, this holy experience. Choosing to be here in...

This body.

Looking out a world beyond my ability to comprehend. My child-mind grasps at meaning, pushes boundaries, wants to build a tree house by the creek behind the land I grew up on, wants to stack rocks in the creek to slow the water, create a pool.

This Body / This Heart / This Mind / This Soul

Have I really chosen to be here?

Maybe, the one time I held the knife, made exploratory cuts . . . . Maybe that day I chose to be here by placing the knife on the table, walking away . . . .

Father
Yes, son
I want to kill you

It was always him, the introjection of him, that I wanted to be rid of. I feared being my father's son. Not that he was evil, but that he got inside my head, made me doubt myself, made me feel unworthy.

* * * * *

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a boy who believed he could do anything he set his mind to, could fly in his dreams, could climb the tallest trees without fear. But one day, when he wasn't looking, he grew up . . . way before his time.

Before that day, when everything changed, he walked deep into the forest all by himself. No one walked in the forest alone because of the wolves and cougars that some people feared. But this little boy didn't fear animals, only people.

The forest floor, wherever the sun shone down, was green with grass and new life. Spring is the season of birth.

As the boy walked into the forest, he noticed a large black bird following him, so he stopped. And the bird stopped, too. The boy walked a few more steps. The bird flew to the next tree.

"Hey, bird," the boy shouted, "Why are you following me?"


The bird was silent.

"I know you're there," said the boy, not sure if this was a good idea.

Caw, said the bird, Caw, Caw.

The boy knew at once it was a Raven. The big black birds were reported to be omens of death, but he didn't believe the stories. Adults always lie.

"Raven, why are you following me?"

I am your shadow. As long as you acknowledge me you will never be lead astray.

* * * * *

Where was I?

All this pain is an illusion . . . .



It's coming closer . . . . The child I once was. Somewhere in the darkness, beyond the futility of stairs, there is a path that can lead me to that innocence, that vulnerability. Someplace in the darkness there is a flame of hope burning as a guiding light.

Fire / Flame / Ashes / The body of my father rolling into the furnace.

I was the witness, still a boy, doing an adult's job. Why me? Why not me?

I hated him and wanted him dead -- until he died. When his heart exploded in his chest, I knew (against all reason) that it was my wish that made it so. At that moment, I loved him and wanted nothing more than to hear his voice yelling at me.

All these years later, I have gotten what I wanted -- his voice in my head.

Please understand, I do not blame him for my life. I don't blame him for the things he did -- he was doing the best he could. I own who I am.

Once, after a lot of wine, I had a dream:

and my father stands over me,
offering his hand for me to rise
but i pull him down to me,
embrace his wide body, roll frantic
with him in dry fallen leaves

How to connect the dots . . . . Make sense of all these words?

I seek the child that I once was, the center of who I am now. There is a thin line between memory and nightmare, and I seek to blur that line as much as possible.


To be continued.

* * * * *

Credits, in order of appearance:
1. "Parabola," Tool
2. Fire
3. Parabola lyrics, previously cited
4. Suicide image
5. "The End," The Doors
6. Trees
7. Raven
8. Pain is an illusion
9. "liturgy for twelve years," Harryman, New Spirit Press


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