Thursday, November 24, 2011

Like a Birthmark

From Robert Vivian's new The Least Cricket Of Evening:

"Walking With Marisa"
If all ages are equidistant from God, as Leopold von Ranke once said, then the opposite is also true: every age is also equidistant from evil, to good submerged and surrounded by the ether of chaos and emptiness. When I made this connection in some winding back alley of Krakow, I realized that I myself was implicated in this chaos and felt the reality of my own darkness flow by in a strong current of pettiness, self-interest, fear, and loathing. How troubling these careening realizations, the stark and brutal truth that no one is off the hook, that it is in fact deeply lodged like a birthmark in every person's jawbone from the start, the first and foremost ache that makes everyone capable of good and evil.
"The Fog Sleepers"
I remember coming to this part of the country long ago when I was six, standing eye-level at my uncle's pool table as the adults played cards at another table. The sun was a mellow, golden light, filling each window with a chardonnay hue at summer twilight. I can still sip that light if I am faithful enough, if I cleave to it with a keening heart. The table was an ocean of green, and I felt then that the surfaces of everything in the house—tables, chairs, afghans, crumpled envelopes—were charged with an energy deeper than anything I could name, the tangible eternity deeper than things. Dust motes floated in a sea of light as the adults' laughter gave them shape outside the boundaries of time. They drifted by like keyholes to other places where lives entered and vanished. I was standing in the middle of a human stream shaped by voices, and did not understand.

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