These days I’m finding a welcoming berth in the words of others, probably since most of my allocation of expression energy is being spent in the studio getting ready for an upcoming show. The coinage I’m minting in that travail happens outside language, so encounters with well languaged and well spoken wisdom are particularly appealing.
This moving passage came by way of my talented friend Andrew’s regular Sunday morning email. Speak memory, for Andrew and for me.
Emerging from the Hudson tubes onto the marsh flats between fingers of Atlantic Ocean estuary, the rail tracks pass abandoned factories, burnt out buildings, then the Newark skyline, brick apartment buildings, the usual American plethora of Churches, neighborhoods cut short by the tracks, and finally the gradual climb up a mild grade into communities with backyards festive in blooming cherry, magnolia, and dogwood and the promise of a new year of death and birth, hopes and minor tears, and the bounties of family & grandchildren. I first rode the old Erie Lackawanna line westward 42 years ago, past place names now like notes of a familiar song: Secaucus, Broad Street, East Orange, Brick Church, Orange, Highland Avenue, Mountain Station, South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, Summit. The train platforms and buildings rush by in an orchestration of sloped green tile roofs and harmonious signage. Aboard the 6:09 each morning, traveling eastward, I observe a silhouette of the pedestrian bridge at Mountain Station lit by street lights and the glow of our passing train against a barely visible backdrop of summer trees or snow depending on season. Fifteen minutes later out beyond Newark is a tableau of broad fields of cat-tails beside a tanker channel: it is profiled in winter by pre-dawn dimness, in Spring by the earliest palette of sunrise, and at summer solstice the flat dull light of first morning.
These memories – and the other trillions scrambled and unindexed – feed into the wondrous and expansive withinside of honeycombed consciousness, a sensuous and sticky half-digested polyfloral pollen from innumerable stamen, all swallowed and regurgitated from honey stomachs of the farthest-ranging bees. At death I will cross the liminal threshold bringing these memories, another Marco Polo sailing home for Venice with Asiatic tales and pockets full of rubies, or another geologic survey close to end of term, returning per schedule to home base with core samples of material reality, its contribution to the divine bounty. My local network of neurons must patch back into an unfathomably broader intelligence.
This caravan travels the old silk road hauling baskets of every color-drenched sunset since my birth, the flash and sparkle of morning light on the sea off the Jersey shore; the great glowering light of gathering storms; a hundred thousand reflections in mirrors, glints on brass doorknobs, rainbows in a cut crystal carafe, a soft shine off delicate china; the sheen on Kathryn’s dark hair; half images on window panes facing the night; the penumbra of headlights, stage lights, flashlights; the narcotic of neon; the dwindling phosphor glow on the dark TV screen shrinking into a dot and then extinction. The world’s beauty is all there; these are the frankincense, myrrh, and gold which I lay in homage before whatever created me. Another portion of the caravan lopes the hot sands behind me loaded with document sachels of lies, betrayals, broken promises, bad faith, venality, indifference, my whole sordid history. An entire hardy camel is needed just for the bulging bag of bawdy images, red hot as Ali Baba’s treasure trove stolen from forty thieves, jewels of lust, coins of golden desire. The pornography ring posted to the interstellar web must already be infinity, yet my unique byte still will contribute its part to the complex software which runs the cosmos.