He sits with his head in his hands swaying back and forth. Inner turmoil pulls with fingers numb from years of toil and weighing options. He wanted to do the right thing before he stepped off a ledge of chance following his heart with twisted passion that had not yet ripened. Chill winds blew in off the southern slopes. Most in the camp hid in their tents waiting for spring. Some wandered the streets for opportunity and warmth when the winter snap felt merciful. They are the social immigrants that slipped when no one was looking. Their journey is made as a daily pilgrimage for survival. All they have are their signs to communicate to the other side, pleading for understanding, longing for hope.
The reality tore at the fabric of the man. A dozen or so signs littered the ground around him as if one was just not enough to convey the collapse of his spirit. Each cried out for something different. Prayers and service and food and family and clothes for warmth. So much needed to be said, so much forgiven.
After awhile of studying this man from my curb, I realized that I could be the only one who sees him. People just kept passing without a glance or notice. I thought of the saying, “Live within thy means and keep thy means simple.” It was too late to approach the man with this. I thought about writing my own sign to warn people. To remind others to take care. The measure of spirit can be known when all that remains is the memory of one’s experience.
Carefully, the man rearranged his signs into a pad and laid his head onto it. He was back in his other world now having found only an audience of one.
I was pulled through the veil separating our two worlds. Maybe there was a chance for better days. Perhaps love would seep in through the cracks somehow? The love signature can keep us during certain times of struggle, self loathing, and uncertainty. I felt challenged by this, but could not deny the pull to consider this plausible root into the degradation of a beautiful human. I would carry his message, a final gift to this world. He would depart into the frozen landscape and remain still like a portrait etched on the mindeye of our perspective. My empathy was screaming out at the world, but people just kept passing mindlessly unaware of the change that began to transcend.
I felt lighter, either through my own rationale or for the appreciation of his experience and what it meant for my own life. He refused my hand when I offered it and simply said through slightly cured lips, and a voice hoarse from weathered tobacco, “Man, just remember beauty.” He was so eloquent in his profound perfunctory. I began looking for it everywhere, words branded like forgiveness that shelters our path from the hypocrisy of judgment and where truth opens its arms to the blossom of our soul.
I am fit and strong with a creative mind and genuine love for those I meet. I remember this as a child; ingrained from the streets of Oakland where the spaghetti plate made its love mark with the travesties of otherwise beautiful people.
In the undertone there are the wasted notes of a man who lost his voice. The shrike laughs behind his thin mask and swoops the sage seeking a sharp contrast to the self inflictions. It is not completely understood other than to say that he, like a bandit, was also seeking. For shrike, the voice came through flights of freedom. Beneath that wintered desert, reality fell all too readily, unnerving. No words were spoken and the quiet lingered like a softly brushed breeze or a whispered kiss.
Shrike glanced across the arid landscape. The vastness of this place is a sanctity of peace where only the solitary mind might challenge everything that means anything.Though our planet suffers, our actions take for granted where only the trivial days hold merit for thought. It is the space within a monotonous mind that requires a bend like molten steel shaped from the blacksmith’s hand. These details are the unexplained foundation of who we’ve become like the shrike where routine tasks are survival.
The lost voice of this man balled up with a longing, thrashing wildly inside while the placid element of time passed, rippled across the surface of circumstance. There was no touch but the metaphors that slide in and out of meaning. A ragged travesty of love that took shape under a dark night where the moon had not yet found its balance. But the vision of the man dwindled too long in the heart and the time of his reason consumed with the daily chore of making pockets happy.
One day, footsteps forgot themselves in the stairwell. While mountainous calderas surround the plain, cavernous places scar. They come from too many years with only the abrasive touch of time. Worn in place, some might say.
There is nothing wrong. Everything has a reason. Everything is an action of some other force. Humans are only cast to the greater theater. Integral, and then again, not really. Without love, this is where they go; a place of irrelevance and insignificant truth, a mannequin for the dresser to fit.
To love is to bathe with bliss like warm water. It touches the skin and tingles the mind. But there is a cruel dichotomy; an unforgiving nature when intentions are misaligned by any means. It forces some to forget and turn toward the running dogma to justify and rationalize their complacency like the lone shadow that lives in the bosom of her arid climate.
He sits talking to himself. He loved her with all his might – like a shooting comet hurling through the universe. As the desert floor moves, it is clear that life holds no abundant guarantees for a lonely dreamer. The dreamer needs his love as paint requires the canvas. Love is like a dream where the thought of her skin presses like a brand, only to slip away. Pure joy flashes with anguish and paralysis grips the tongue. Only memories are allowed to drift along the desert; a hitch hiker rolls like a tumble weed where the future is bound to the past whence the roots snapped.
She was a ghost that slipped into the earth when he glanced the other way.