toward a muse

(Calypso missed)

It's been more than a year now since Odysseus left the island, and forgot about Calypso entirely.  Except it wouldn't be wrong to say that the last statement is wrong, he didn't forget her (would you?).  The next island he gets to, he is buried under the ground while a little goth girl takes care of him.  Like Isis, she is left with the job of putting him back together, after he'd been taken apart (by himself, the self a taoist reflection that took the apparitions of sea monsters, mermaids, storms, and relentless waves).  The girl wasn't entirely stuck, like Isis, in other patriarchal stories that make the goddess the one who is there to help him come together; in fact, even Isis had terrible problems of her own, and we don't have to spend a lot of time on the girl's problems, they are entirely her own, and have their own right to secrecy.  Her first problem was not being a goddess herself, so there was no gift of immortality there to curse or bless her at the end of the day, but it's hard not to imagine that she was getting something out of the deal.

In all the wakes he'd been sleeping through, his head was soaked through with a strange gift of prophecy, and he learned how to see things in the bones of the dead, and developed a strong attraction for anything related to the sea.  It wasn't because the sea reminded him of Calypso, but because Calypso reminded him of the sea.  So he had things that could help the goth girl, and it had to be that way, because he was altogether terribly ungrateful to her for all the time she spent putting him together. 

While Odysseus was sleeping in his temporary grave, he marked the nights he dreamed about Calypso, so that he could show them to her when he became immortal, because he wanted to tell her, "Look, these are all the nights that passed between then and now, and these marks are the ones that I spent thinking about you."

But it was never really about her, and perhaps never even really about him, but about the energy that had erupted on the earth's surface when their bodies came together, and this energy brought up the bones of the dead and the watery spirits of the oceans of the world.  To the ones who are always already immortal, when these energies enact themselves in the human body, it is like watching jello trying to conduct electricity with neon lights, entirely beautiful, and it does not matter so much how the jello feels.  For the jello that calls itself Odysseus, the feeling was simply uncomfortably haunting, waking up into something just so fucking right, and when the electricity was cut, there was a lack that took the spectral form of haunting.  He missed her body, he missed her looks, he missed her hunger, and at the end of the day, he entirely missed the human being that these things were connected to.  It's terribly sad to see him like this, when there is so much that he should be paying attention to, but probably all for the best that, up to now, he does not realize that he has had his body transformed into a very delicate instrument, one that knows intuitively how to be a vessel for electricity without destroying itself.

So when he wakes and draws images of her in the sand, it takes months and months before he forgets what she looks like, because the images have started to look like someone else.  It's probably better that he doesn't know that the someone else will always be someone else, that Calypso was never attainable by him, and he was never attainable by her, because even lovers (or especially lovers) never attain each other, and only mark spaces where something else can enter.

His mouth marked like a fish that had been caught (by a mermaid, no less), he leaves the island and the goth girl has nothing more to say to him, and he's still too asleep in his mind to wonder why that might be.  At some point, all the heroes have to learn how to be better houseguests, and this is not his time for that. 

He goes back home.  (Because "Odysseus must return!" -- Tadeusz Kantor)

Home is never like we expect it to be, everyone we knew has gotten older and more tired, and there are always more kids interested in vampires than before.  He is surrounded, then, by bored grey people, and vampires, and nothing is in color for awhile.  It's no one's fault but his, and maybe not even his, his eyes are older, and still haven't learned how to see in the mortal world.  They're too full of visions of otherworlds, and futures that are clearer to him than the present, which seems so terribly murky, covered with the heat of the day and the illusions of the night.  One of the last things Calypso said to him was about his vision, he tried to remember it differently, because it is much better if she said things like, "You and I, we will see this clearly one day," instead of, "I can see very far, because I am not old like you, I don't get old like you're doing right now." 

She was almost unsentimental as a defense against falling in love, and he loves that about her, and loves so many things about her that he carries her double on his back.  Everyone knows, then, about what's on Odysseus' mind, because it is on his back.  He doesn't cut her double loose until he's found the right river, he tells everyone, but he is always looking for the right river, but can't find the one that would surely flow back to her (and if he did, he would be on it).  It's another terrible moment, where we are all embarrassed for him, and wish he would learn to focus on the feet in front of him.  The feet are getting terribly interesting, after all.  After all, there's a revolution in the city he left, and the home he came back to is so much less settled than he expected.

But he won't ever really find her until he realizes he is not looking for her, and that would take a hundred consecutive leaps of faith, the kind of obstacle course for the soul that turns us into things that we are not, things we never thought we could actually be.  That could, in fact, be the very thing that marks the kind of story that is simultaneously tragedy and comedy, where the main characters are changed utterly, and don't even realize it.  The trip around the sun in human skin is one that can feel so painfully slow that we aren't able to see the points when things shift, and if we were able to experience the moments that are months, fully, without any fear or desire, then we would be entitled to enter into eternity with a light heart. 

And he isn't able to see how the months with the goth girl trained him to carry a heavy heart and still live, entering into the eternity only occasionally, through the subtle fluctuations of a mouth locked in a kiss, or the view of the city from the top of a mountain, when everything else seems so closed.  That is how he feels, after all, that the city is like a series of stores that have all been closed, and he can't enter any of the doorways as a guest any more. 

If he were to wake up, which he will, he might start to see the enormous debt he owes to all the lifelines that crossed with his on his passages between the theres and the here.  If he were to wake up, he would see his place inside a torrent, and learn to embrace all its ambiguities.  If he were to wake up, he would see that the longing that haunts his sleep is not for a past, but for a future, one that he is walking in at this very moment, one whose chords are as complex as a tango, as ripe as a pomegranate, and as shy as a small white bird, like the one that is getting born inside his chest while he longs, while he longs, while he longs.


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