She asked me what it was like to live up there where it got Winter early and Spring so late. I had to sit for a second to remember. Even though remembering’s almost all we old guys do. Mostly what I recalled was the heat on my face and the chill on my back, like when I would chase the sirens and lights to those trailer fires, where someone’s whole life, and few lives themselves, would go up in a smoke so stinking it clings to my memory harder than it clung to my clothes back then. But the fires weren’t the recollection I was thinking of when she asked me. No, it was heat of your breath on my face and the icy chill of the known unknown coursing down my back and how they melted together and steamed within me ~ and us ~ that one night I’ll never forget.
If I was to write you a story, I don’t think it’d be very happy, because happy’s hard to find, like the tilde on this keyboard of mine. If I tried to write you a poem, I don’t believe it’d very pretty, since the pretty words left home just after Christmas this year. If I did write you something, though, it’d be from a heart blind to what you believe isn’t pretty — but is so. That’s because you’ve touched me and I’ve felt you in a way senses cannot. I hope that’d make you feel happy ~ ~ ~ even if I can’t. Hi, remember me? The usual struggle for words got worse over the past month or so. Then I sensed I wasn’t being myself in what I was trying to say. So I went as basic as I could, letting my blind heart lead me here, where you’re beautiful and I’m just the me you don’t need to see ~ you just need. Simple.
Why do we look to horoscopes, psychics and dreams, coincidences, nature and subconscious schemes to help us understand that which we think we don’t know? When within these trees, actually, a forest does grow. So let’s not worry about offending the past. At our age, there’s just too much, the past is so vast. And the future? Well, we know that’s never a sure thing. If past is prologue, nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. Yeah, I’m scared, too, but see how short is existence, how long is regret, and how strong this resistance to take it head on, this long put off conclusion. Together, we’re real. It’s those excuses that’re delusion
Somewhere in a Christmas fantasy, something like my Life’s sugar plums resting all sweet and spicy upon a cosmic comfit plate, right next to the roasted chestnuts I hear about, warm and soft as a lover’s kiss. Or so you tell me. Because this is a fantasy, a dream straight out of one of those Hallmark Christmas movies, only none of us are princes, princesses or destiny’s darlings fated to leap holiday hurdles to couplehood and, per every fantasy’s script, fall into one of those chestnut kisses in the last thirty seconds before the credits roll. The sweet and spicy? I don’t care. But we all need dreams, don’t we? Otherwise why even have that one day of the year when wishes can come true and hopes aren’t dashed and danced upon by a fantasy fleet of reindeer, an ill-fit significant other or make-believe mean girl. Maybe that’s why I keep my list short, written in invisible ink between lines of fanciful good-boy reveries of an exchange of Life’s gifts you can’t buy, nor steal and I’ll likely never get to try. Like sugar plums.
Over my many winters, or maybe just this long one and only, I have stood, sat or lain here and watched the snowflakes fall. Some I’ve followed from the heavens to my feet. Others blown away from me by the cold winds that have chilled my heart and frozen my soul. A very few have deigned to spiral and swoop to land upon my lashes, catching my eye more than I caught them. Then there’s you, who I spied one day in your earthward glide, toward me and away, then blown back by winds I never felt but you did. You’re lways defying gravity out there in front of me or at the corner of the corner of my eye. If you ever were to land upon me, I know you’d feel as warm there as summer rain or perhaps a tear on my cheek. One I'll never wipe away.
Christmas Day’s just over a week away. Yet the golf course is open, though I don’t dare to play. It just seems sacrilegious to go tee it up, when I should be writing carols, and, yeah, tipping a wassail cup. That’s how it’s become, though, the weather gone screwy, no morning snow on the greens, in fact, they were dewy. No north winds howling, just gusts from the west blowing decorations sideways, like a tipsy party guest. Meanwhile, the trees out my window still have some leaves a’cling, while that tree in the living room stands sparkling with bling. But even if this weather confuses me with what’s the real season, I still know Christmas is nearing and this is the reason. I can feel my frozen heart warming, when that tree sparkles like jewels and visions from our holidays past echo of those Yules when I’d write you a present, though not tied in a bow. Just wrapped in evergreen affection, signed Merry Christmas! Love, Joe.
Do you still bleed when the blade crosses your heart? Or have you ceased running, like a freshet lying near-lifeless waiting for the just right rain that might never come? Cut me again, see how I’ve given up pumping the warm, red metaphor, this life led without the touch I always thought I needed. Yet here I am once more, carving for you another arroyo like so many I’ve inscribed during my days in this desert. I once cut the dust with blood from a full heart unscarred. Now all I’ve left is tears.
I like the way you hold me when I try to speak to you, how your hands close ‘round what my fingers wish to express. I love how you might understand what I have to say, even though I’m not making a sound anyone but you can hear. Perhaps that’s because no one listens so closely to my clumsy, earnest efforts to let you know we’ll be all right. I blush when I see you looking at me so attentively the way you always have, parsing meaning from between my creases and lines that speak to you even when our eyes are closed. But mostly I love how you've always kept a place for me within the warm spot few have entered and even fewer you’ve let stay, even if what you hold, hear and see of me are just your feelings of my feelings.
Who would hear it, if I was to fall now that no one listens anymore? Would you feel the air rush past my ears as I drop on my way to the cold, hard floor, where my last breath will be cruelly knocked from my chest with a whoosh or a rasp? Would my life playing on the screen in your mind in nano-second episodes make you gasp? Might your attention leave the theater after the .002-second scene of the third act because even my gun, the one from Act One, going off in my head couldn't make you react? Or perhaps you’d wait stage-left to see if my final thought was of you alone, as in the overture and between the lines I’ve written, recited and probably blown. Until the curtain falls and in the wings I'll wait for you to make your final bow and adieu and join me there because some writer never amended his script to ever let me join you.
I wish I had a life something like yours, as sad as you feel you are. Yes, it’s dealt you some busted hands, here and there…even there…a scar. But at least you’ve lived and loved and felt, the sense that’s left me just old. And now I’m seeing that light up ahead, where the only touch I’ll feel is cold. Looks like I’ll always be left to wonder what my life would’ve been like if only… Wondering doesn’t feel so soft and warm, wondering like this only feels lonely. Too late now to hope some day I’ll find what I’ve not often felt to feel better. Your memories hold the warmth you’ve held, and I pray someday we can hold some together.