Winter’s circular bones — you know when you detach, exit, look for your car in the snow and wonder? The time of the Greeks to the time when you can’t find your car in the snow — it all passes in such a blink.
I stood on the doorway looking at the shape of his garden — not what’s in it so much, although the springtime flowers were stunning — but the way it circled around, with the rocks on the edges. I could never keep straight where it was supposed to go, I guess — not the garden so much as my life. The word “direction,” for example, scared me shitless. It was not until much much later that I abandoned my view of his garden and understood, for the first time, that direction is not an arrow at all. An arrow implies a target, something known at the other end, and “direction” means constantly adjusting your speed, tangent and velocity to reach the target.
But direction means nothing of the kind — not now, anyway. It’s a gentle unfolding — and at that word, gentle, she asked why. It needs protection, I said, because the shoots inside, the ones just now unfolding and exposed, need shelter. Of course there were tears. Wept from the inside out about how long the march had been, how circular and hopeless it all had seemed, and how really far from my car I’d always been until now. Car, of course, being a metaphor for driving someplace. By myself, with my own foot. And hands. The noise, mainly, had been unbearable all those years but what I’d done to myself to stop hearing it was worse. Trampled, missing, bruised, with never enough feeling to nurse myself to a state of health.
Straight lines, nature — the two never met. Why do the young men want to hop onto a path that they believe leads somewhere? And then the blinders we need in order not to see. But that’s those young men; I was not one of them. My path was a no-path, an abdication of self.
Thank god that, as it turns out, you can’t stay lost forever. Not if you have any life left in you, that is. Sometimes you have to fight for that life and protect it. A small candle, sputtering — not a show you’d want to watch, but the most vital responsibility you will ever have, to keep that burning, even in the middle of a long, long winter.