promises, gifts (re-posted)

This is from elseblog as well -- it's at least 2 years old -- but I want it here now.

promises, promises

I promised someone I would write. But after a night of dreaming (preceded by so many dreamless nights) I can only wonder at the narrative thread. Why is it so easy to read? I would have wanted less temporality, less careful unfolding, less story; I would have preferred to approach it like a child ripping off the holiday wrapping paper -- only there to create invisibility and to titillate -- and surely nothing exists with certainty until it is seen framed in a box with air and tissue paper as coating. But, of course, it isn't an easy dream to read, only to follow, like Theseus follows Ariadne.

I didn't want a story, though. I have enough of those.

Sometimes we stay alive for others. (yes, I know that's a main theme of _The Hours_, but bear with me). Nameless others. Others who don't fit into our narrative threads. It's a gift. And yet, we blame our living on those to whom we call out when we feel the burden of it.

It is hard, nearly impossible, perhaps entirely futile, to give someone a gift he doesn't want. That is a story that doesn't unfold neatly the way a prim lady opens a gift without surprise, even in not-knowing she finds a way to create distance (because surprise is vulgar). That is a story that can only be written on the inside of the paper.

I have too much writing on my side. I'm tired of narratives that loop, I'm tired of what S. calls my "trapdoor memory."

What evolutionary sense does it make that some of us are "exposed here on the cliffs of the heart", as Rilke writes? What evolutionary sense does it make to leave traits that can only make pretty things out of the general suffering? When young women are being murdered by their families in Iraq for having been kidnapped and been under the threat of rape (and elsewhere, here, for other reasons); what does it matter that pain swells up in me like an inky wave that will pull in its wake all but the dirty residue? When we are daily killing innocent people (and guilty ones, too) for no justifiable reason in what we call a war, why does it matter that I sit like an overly sensitive tastebud awash in the same liquids, the same damn food, the same bitter and sour and sweet and acid, over and over? Why does this world not slough? Bodies are not self-cleansing. My mind cannot be erased. What happens when Cassandra never dies, and yet tragedy is no longer functional?

I wait on you patiently as if you were elsewhere, and yet I wait on you daily, impatiently serving myself up as your witness. When will you write your story? When did you get transfixed here? Why is my narrative so limited, so narcissistic? Why can't I write beyond myself? I know you are already there, though; all tangled up like the knots at the deep neck-side of my hair after a night of dreaming that comes too easy. I pull them out blindly with my fingers, stubborn yet fragile reminders of narratives I don't want to write again; mindful, mindful of the dull pain of repetition. But I think it's you who pulls the lever on the trapdoor; I think it's you who gently shakes the unwanted gift, curious nonetheless to know its contents. You are one of those cunning children who unwraps just the corners of the package under the tree--just enough to see what it is--and then gingerly wraps it back, leaving no traces. You are innocent, innocent, without residue, without trace. I think it's you, with your sly innocence, who seeks comfort in my exposure. I think it's you who calls forth this gift.