Saturday, February 3, 2007

Sorrow is my Bedfellow

O.k., I promise I am not always bent low with melancholy, as you must surely know
by former scribbles on "The Big Red Couch." But please indulge me this once. Let me be morose for a while. Christ left the party and went down to sleep in the bottom of the boat. He took off to deserted places, sobbed at the death of a friend, ground out his fury and angst in a garden not of Edenic qualities but of the Gethsemene state of being. Today, I will follow suit, because humans have bad days - even the One who was fully Divine. I do not do it in a faithless way, but I will do it. Honesty suits the Christian.

Sorrow is my bedfellow. It burrows its cold soles, heel to toe, on my flesh
and will not let me be. It chills the warm, contented slumber into stubborn,
raw wakefulness that shivers at the presence of the unwelcome spectre.
Sorrow is my bedfellow. It nibbles at my feet, crawls between the sheets
and springs, unbidden, in my thoughts. Even my dreams are cracked in two as
pipes freeze, dams burst, and drafts blow ill persistently through my spirit.

Sorrow is my bedfellow. It drains the hot water bottle, greys the dawn,
and hazes the mirror so that I cannot see for its fog. It interrupts my cheer
and spills my mug, upending little joys with only sodden towels left.

Sorrow is my bedfellow. I dream of joy, of insulation, of company that
gives instead of takes. I wish for color and glow, for warm feet and
safe companionship. Where rats scurry, shadows vanish, grief flees for fear
of what joy will do to them if it finds them lurking in the corners. I long for
the well-weaponed presence of a sentinel well-being that defies sorrow,
routs it and banishes the chill from my bed, my table, my fireside. For
the well-lit grate, the "lion's paw of contentment" [billy collins], the joy
that will look after me, I long, I wait. 

Remember, sorrow. You will not always find a place within my walls. For you there
is no welcome. Only painful tolerance until a better day. Beware, for joy and light
and company will take their vengeance, and then I will be free from your chill, your numbing company.

Sorrow is my bedfellow. But only as a boarding-house lodger. Joy will be my right hand, and when it is,the snug presence of peace will win the day and warm the night. Sorrow, count your days. Your time will soon be past, your power drained, your memory scorned. Prepare to be undone by better beings.

But I Can't

I thought I could travel among the hives without smoking the bees,
I thought I could stick the wire to my tongue,
I thought I could wear white while baking a chocolate cake,
I thought I could speed through the yellow light,
I thought I could be near you.
But I can't.

I thought I could grasp a hot muffin pan with bare hands,
I thought I could sip scalding tea.
I thought I could drink after a child with a cold,
I thought I could make the half and half last one more cup.
I thought I could be around you.
But I can't.

I thought I could go another mile on E,
I thought I could do with six hours of rest.
I thought I could jump from one platform to the next,
I thought I could pet the dog that barked at everybody,
I thought I could be near you.
But I can't.

I thought I could note the texture of your sweater,
I thought I could hear the voice but not the words,
I thought I could laugh my way through wounds.
I thought I could be near you.
But I can't.