The Love That Consumes

919 North Corinthian, Apt. 8, Philadelphia, PA, 19130

I remember realizing
Things were not going as they should be—
but not knowing how to make it stop.
I was in the free fall of my twenty-third year on the planet, sitting with Chris Holmes
In a shaded pocket of the University
We were late for class. But couldn’t move.
He was taking conversational French.
I was taking Biology. For the third time.
I just couldn’t get it right.
My married man was gone, somewhere far, with his family, his real life.
My life, my fears were no longer merely real. They’d transcended.
We were taking pulls of Jim Beam, a novelty, but none the less frightening for it.
Mosquitoes were ringing around us and he said
I’m sorry you’re so depressed.I’m not depressed! I replied.
Well, he said,
well – of course you are.
That’s why you’re hanging out with me.
That was then, you see.
I was a child, you see.
And as a child, I thought like a child. I behaved like a child.
I moved like a child and sang like a child. I threw myself to
Wolves and laughed as I was eaten.
Then cried over my blood and bones.

The boy and I
Are older now. He teaches at Columbia.

Just yesterday we spoke

about a movie starring Johnny Depp.
See? That’s what happens sometimes.
You live to see yourself
From a distance—
To see you moving through another time.
You live to see the moment you stuffed a bottle of whiskey in your backpack—
Trudging across the Washington Avenue Bridge to class, a feeling of mounting dread
And fading hope in your chest. A feeling of knowledge that what you thought your life
Would be is not at all what it is. And you have no one to pin this on but yourself. Not even
The boy who sat with you only moments ago; the one who told you he was twenty-one, and
You believed he was, until you found his passport and counted out the years: OMG, he’s nineteen.
Another lie. When you find this bit of evidence, you put it back and go on with your day; it confirms your
Suspicion that people are duplicitous, treacherous, motivated
by virtues other than kindness, love, generosity.

When I was a child
I reasoned like a child.

Beautiful child,
I see your weary gaze. The pain you cling to like the gospel.
Here you are crying. Here you are blinking. Here you are waiting at the bus stop.
You see yourself there 

But from where you are now.
See? Sometimes you live long enough to outgrow your precious ennui. Your fear of happiness—
So terrifying and loathsome to you—not because it is in itself, bad,
But, because
It cannot be shared.

What was I saying as I walked that day?
I said to myself, learn from this, learn from this, learn from this



beadie said...

Bella. Bellisimo. Beautiful. You.

RGZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
renee z said...

this is outstanding. so so gorgeous. and it's going to stick with me -- which is good, because for at least a month my head has been chantint "sera una volta." i needed a new chant.