Thursday, February 24, 2011

There's so much you have to go through . . .

Dear Father

I fell asleep while reading Keats. I woke not long ago, thinking of my mother and then my father, and while still in half-dream and talking, repeating the line several times, I addressed him in this half-dream world of half-selves, “I am so sorry not to have been writing you all these many years and months, my own dear father." Next I began to write. "But I was so angry when you left—helplessly abandoned—a hopeless fledgling not able to bear himself up with his own wings. What you did was not fair—life has been no fairer—all these many years, as I say. And still, a part of me understands and forgives you. I talk about you with people as if my memories are fond and as if I loved you. It is as if that fledgling bird-boy is both alive and dead—a thousand fantastic lifetimes in an unrecoverable past, an unfinished work beyond any hope of completion. And so the chasms that open up inside of me are vast, unnavigable—disparities between selves that have been introduced to one another only because they all exist within the same scarred and broken frame—else they’d be strangers living on different continents, different parts of the world entirely. They share frivolity and sadness, and the bird-boy within—the one with whom it all began—thinks he may have missed out on much you might have offered. There is no way for him to know now, of course. Part of him was relieved that you were not to return, and another part of him—well, it was not another part of him after all. By the time I found you, an older boy with arms like a strong man, with the shoulders of an athlete, with the scrabbled stomach of a laborer, had risen up alongside the tender fledgling, and it was that elder me who was not very pleased—awkward, burdened and put upon to have found you once again. These two, the bird-boy and the mannish boy of great physical prowess, (but hollow, without a knowable inner-life)—one born malformed, the other robbed blind, never knew how to say anything to you at all. It was the same for the older fellow who came to live inside of me a little fa(r)ther down the road, that poorly married and then divorced fat man who sat on the side of the bed when you were in the hospital dying, age 62. Sometimes I think the tumor at the base of your brain kept you from all those fragments of a me. And here I am now, one or two lifetimes even further along, another partitioned self or two added to the mix—the me now only nine years younger than when you died and talking with you here, now, fumbling, uncertain that there is--that there ever was--anything at all to say. Year after year it grows increasingly burdensome to be reaching constantly inside for a self only to come up empty all the time. It is like never being fully born, only half-alive, and always ill-equipped at best for most everything there is to do in a day or a lifetime. The only reason that I exist at all is because a dear friend who knows all of this has told me that she’s been talking with you when she prays, has suggested to me that I might once again take up the faith of our fathers—funny phrase—for I have taken up that exact faith, the faithless, undependable, and overly-critical man who meant so much and gave so little. (I don’t know if that’s fair, but let’s hash it out.) I had a “great expectation” too, once, that you would have long ago helped me learn to walk. But today I limp, mostly alone now, mostly alone for all these years, except for this new friend I mentioned. I do not want to tell you her name. She has, like God, many different names, but they are not like the names of our fathers. They exude instead a strong and womanly strain—I simply call her 'healer'—at least that’s what I’ll leave you with for now. Besides, I believe she’s already told you her name inside the temple of her God, before the tabernacle where she has prayed for your release, and mine. Or maybe I will call her 'loving woman,' even as I come to you and write to you now, these many years later, my own 'dear father.'"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there are tears in my eyes, love. you are a beautiful man. a man of great depth.