Born into the scope of
sun and moon and stars and night
into mother’s sweet embrace
upon an ever-spinning and wondrous planet
servant to its parent star,
expelled from the womb of darkness
in a state of sweet oblivion.
Born into the prospects for love and hunger
laughter and grief and
with a unique genetic imprint
yet simply another member of
the human race – Homo sapiens.
Born into family and tribe and nation
yet forever alone with the
wonder and burden of self.
Born into a kaleidoscope of
a labyrinth of escalating ideas,
the enigmatic world of dreams and
the wonder and enormity of
a living world,
a reality devoid of guarantees,
filled with the many textures
and surprising dimensions of
Born into the living world
along time’s arrow
tied to the cosmic symphony
ultimately destined to the finality of
the joy molecular.
Eventually to discover
there is no
singular solution to the
enigma of existence,
no one way to live a life,
no escape from
life’s ultimate conclusion,
no mysterious rescue,
no salvation from the
tenacious grip of reality
and the forward movement of time.
Ultimately to learn
the art of surrender
to the ultimate truth
that promises no alternative outcomes.
A magnificent and wildly haphazard
trajectory from birth
within the rhapsody and dance
of the cosmos.
On occasion, my mind careens through my past and collides into the sweet and bitter taste of memories of friendships come and gone. Over the years I have experienced the deep loss associated with the death of many friends. The names that occur to me are Beatrice, Samiha, Najma, Warren, David, Bill, Chris, Robert, Nina, Noburu, Philip, Michael, Robert and others.
I imagine that they have all gathered, both living and dead, in one place as if summoned to a sumptuous feast filled with color, and light and erotic and sensory images of the fleeting past. At this gathering, I envision a continuous slideshow displayed on a big screen in an endless loop – you know the kind I am thinking of as on display in the memorials of the recently deceased. Such displays rarely if ever display the individuals involved not at their best and most gracious selves. At this imagined slideshow, there is no such inhibition.
All the beds slept in both luxurious and mundane with erstwhile partners. All the exquisite and banal couplings with organs engorged and engaged at the beckoning of love’s insatiable fever. All the anticipation realized or diminished. All the passion spent or eroded by circumstance. The dance and inherent rhythms of bodies in their thirst for both substance and pleasure.
All the friendships accumulated in idle remembrance and fond recollections over the years. The bond created with childhood friends on the block outside the tenement apartment (1E) in my Bronx neighborhood. Visions of sultry summer days with the neighborhood fire hydrant spewing its content, and the bitter cold of winter sequestered in our fortresses of snow and ice as we staged joyous assaults upon our manufactured enemies with our hastily made collections of snowball weaponry.
Friends and enemies intertwined within the web and matrix of all things past. All the intense conversations of youth; all terribly meaningful at the time, but more reminiscent of that self-absorption so characteristic of adolescence.
At this spontaneous banquet, the guests awaited an erudite statement of some significance from their host regarding why they were all summoned. With a great deal of embarrassment, I realized that I had nothing either cogent or significant to say to them. I was speechless. What I finally uttered was pathetically inadequate: I said, “You are all here by pure happenstance; how this came to happen is a mystery to me It seems to be the physical manifestation of one of my exotic thought dreams.” This comment was met by an agitated state of annoyance and confusion.
My dear friend Beatrice, who died many years ago at the young age of forty-one, was never one to mince her words, spoke out, “Are you kidding me, This is why I came out of my sweet repose!”
In a hurried attempt to rescue some semblance of respectability I then said, “Beatrice, I am sorry; I did not mean to offend. I have such fond memories of you. To all of you, my dearest friends, gathered here, my sincerest apologies. I just didn’t know what to say – I was overwhelmed by this amazing gathering. Since you are here, please enjoy yourselves.” For some reason, this pathetic explanation was considered plausible enough and the party continued. Many of those present had no connection whatsoever with anyone else. I did my best to introduce as many as I could to others. As a result, many stories were exchanged that provoked uninhibited laughter, surprise, amazement and sometime disbelief. It turned out to be a wonderful event.
I noted that of those in attendance, a preponderance were women. This reality reflected the fact that I have always felt more comfortable in the company of women than with those of the same gender. However, regardless of their sexual orientation, they were all kindred spirits to me. I have remained in contact with some of these friends, but many have moved on with their lives. I wonder about them and where there lives have taken them.
In life, we accumulate friends, lovers, companions, acquaintances and colleagues. The experiences that are associated with them are all stored in long-term memory – to be called upon later. In life, one is born into a family of one kind or another, a locality we recognize as place and a tribe or nation. Bundled with all of these intricate and interwoven facets are a particular language(s), culture and an unwritten code of acceptable behavior. In this way norms are established that are viewed as natural to young and innocent minds filled with enthusiasm and excitement in the mere and daunting prospect of living. It is only later in life that these imposed values are subjected to scrutiny and questioned within the elaborate matrix of the thinking brain.