tucson dance of the dead
He never walks home, unless home is very far away, and then he walks as far as he can, to that point where the legs start to make sounds that can't be heard until three days later, when that particular search is resolved.  There's nothing that has very much resolution lately, it all seems to be a part of a strong and straying stream of becoming.  This particular becoming, however, is anything but light and full of flight, it's one where the bone is hitting the hard gravel of the endless road.
His body is prone in an office where people are learning how to be doctors, and there are hands on every secret place, and hands in every opening except for the mouth.  Because the mouth is safe, he knows that he is safe.  As they move through his flesh with nerves that are starting to come apart at the seams, he is trying not to be distracted, but it's impossible.  A tall, black bird is in the corner of the office, disguising herself as a chaperone, because so many things are happening behind closed doors and there need to be some witnesses.  She is not particularly sympathetic, because the same things have already happened to her three thousand years ago or more, and she knows that he's finding out that the repetitions are bearable, but the first time is always the one that rips you in half.
He's been ripped in half before, by other medical professionals, and the worst times were when the professionals were using older tools and older traditions, and these are the ones that left the best scars.  This won't be a scar.
Earlier in the day he was in another office, where his father's body was prone before a team of professionals, and the oldest one was holding a jar that had a sticker on the side that said, "chemotherapy."  The oldest one asks his father for his last four digits, and it all begins again.  This is the middle of things, he was thinking, this is just the middle, and no one can say how long a middle will last.  But this definitely has the makings of scars.
He is thinking about his father's body, and thinking about the bird, and wondering why this can't be more like a dream.  Some people say he likes to live in metaphors, but here all he can see are patterns, and they have the makings of scars that might read like metaphors, but for now, he just wants something like theory.  Something like a vocabulary that could talk about the male body and desire, and medicine and anatomy, the way things seem to bounce back and forth between the clinical and the erotic, with absolutely no smooth transitions. 
This is the body and all its cellular workings, sometimes lilting and sometimes galloping and sometimes being galloped toward a place where the heart stops and everything starts to become something other.  This is the body that wants, the body that hungers, with all of its flesh that responds to smell and touch and memory, being pulled into a space where gravity is something to be overturned in order to find something that's true in the presence of another human being.  Perhaps the only thing that crosses back and forth is that same bird, here she's black and in candle light she is blue, and at sunrise she hides inside the mouths of sleeping lovers. 
Every fissure is a contingency, a space that's waiting to write and be written upon.  Some lovers insist on using their fingernails to write the last four digits, and some ask permission to make more lines that might demarcate a future incision, and everyone wants to be remembered because everyone wants to mark the body.
This is the end of the 20th century, and the 21st century has been insisting on its birth for a long time now, only it doesn't have very much to introduce itself, because so far it has been nothing more (and nothing less) than a series of quotations written on the bodies of the ones who live here.  His warrior marks are buried under three months of hair, so these strangers can't see who he is, or where he's from, and none of them will think to try to guess his sacred name.  The warrior marks of the father had been placed on the father's body, but that was so long ago now that they have reached the corners of his eyes. and everyone who has been there in that field can recognize him.
He only knows his father's secret smiles, the ones that have always put him above and apart from this world of the living.  This father has lived on margins for more than half his life, and he keeps the secrets he learned here in those same eyes. 
There is also a mark on that boy's back, where they placed steel in his spine to keep his lungs from collapsing, and it connects somewhere to these other lines, new technologies for the old rites of the pains that haunt the living. 
His daughter remembers something, and reminds him with her remembering, about the two of them dancing together, on one afternoon when he was in his new space.  The song was something Irish or something Gypsy, recorded on the latest technologies, and when they danced together it was something modern, but something very, very old, and something in the blood.  Death and dying might be one of the rites we live through, and one that we have to walk our children through one day, but they're connected to the heart of a black bird, who calls the drum with her tongue and wakes up the oldest parts of the blood.  These are rites for the living, dances of death and dances of rebirth, tying the eyes of the father to the smile of the lover, because they all signify the same thing.
If anyone can give birth to the 21st century, he thinks, it's that black bird.  Because she understands how these things work, and every generation is blinded by its own technologies, hardly still enough to see that the typos on a smart phone work as charmingly as any old charm, connecting bodies to a chord that we are all born with in the back of our throats.  Everyone sleeps, but very few have the patience or the stamina to wake up. 


Popular Posts