Romantic Tragedy

by dschapman

It is difficult not to think of you. I think about you all of the time, even when I shouldn’t. I try not to; it is unbecoming, it is weird. You are not thinking of me, and I know that. You are not dreaming, yearning, hoping against all odds that I might come to your doorstep, or that I might write you a letter, or that you might ever just see me again. But I am; I do dream, I do yearn, I do hope against hope that you might find me, as I through impenetrable darkness found you. You are not thinking of me; it is unsettling that I might be thinking of you. Or isn’t it romance! I have tried to be serious, tried to be decent, and keep you out of my thoughts, keep even the thought of you out of my thoughts; and it has been trying. I remember only a few words you’ve said to me, because you have said very few words. But I remember them. I play them in my head, the way you smiled, the way you held my eyes in yours; I wondered, then, what if, what wonder? I wondered whether or I could, should dream this, should give substance to this dream. I told my friend, I love her, as I have told him I love many women before you, as I have never til now meant it. I am in love with that girl, I said. I do not think he believed me; rightfully so. I have been known to cry wolf. But how could he know? Like lightning striking, the skies opened up above me, something paralyzed me, split me into pieces. One piece to love you, and one piece to be loved; one piece to speak to you, one piece to write to you, and one piece to dream of you. Pieces left in pieces, let alone for someone like you to stumble upon, to piece back together, a sculptor. And yet it was none of that; it was subtle. It was an empathy, a gentle inducement; you induced me into smiling, you fell across my skin like warm autumn air, inducing me to virtue, inspiring me to sing, aspiring promise within me. I am not a singer; you inspire me to sing. I am not a dancer; you inspire me to dance. I would dance with you, I imagine it, I wish for a night I could dance with you, I do not dance, but I would dance for you. The feeling came from somewhere quiet within me, somewhere simple and honest, long left dormant; something I may have felt once in life, primordial, but covered up to protect it; and then it spread, like froth, throughout me, it lifted my brow into wondrous amusement, it lifted my lips into friendliness; it lifted my arms to the sky, where I held them, thanking God for something good, something not forsaken. I saw in you at once a great forgotten totality, the beautiful conduit, a virtue of life; I saw in you totalities real and transparent, pastorals sweet and insolvent, a romance like light over waves long cascading, an unraveling of some false identity into the mysterious, multitudinous fray of the truth, the cavernous truth. I want to teach you everything, and from you, for once, I want to learn, as I have long ago stopped learning. I have closed my eyes to the world; I see nothing. I have locked up my cupboards and hung up my phones, saddled with guilt at the state of the world. I remember thinking; here is a human, she makes me feel human; I remembered myself a human. I remembered for myself the state of the sun diffused through the tree-leaves, the curve of the clouds over bloom-laden hillsides, bicycle tires and ice cream cones and hands clasped finger-in-finger, shoes padding softly the earth, a dog laughing all the way beside us. Friends, enemies, ghosts at the door; none of it happens, if it happens alone. None of this has been happening; none of this glory, none of this virtue, none of these grand machinations, because they happen all alone. Visions without viewers, hymns without an audience. I know I am great; I am building in myself a library, a luxury, a safety, but it does me no good all alone to be in it. I also know I am fragile; I know I an animal, too, like any other animal, in need of tender reassurance, in need of unconditional togetherness, two warm beings pressed up together through the cold, the firm and wordless compacts, irrepressible. Empathy, childlike, resolute; I I cannot escape from this empathy, this goodness that pulls me towards you, this instant unending of youth, and hopefulness, restless and aging.

I am a secret to everyone but you, and you do not know me. Around you, I unfold, I regress through infinite changing personalities, infinite variations of truth, until I come to the one true feeling, the one and only being, a being I have been for decades now, have lost and have recovered and have destroyed and have done unto et cetera. I have experienced childhoods; let me tell you, by the light of the moon, who I am, my childhoods, my secrets, my histories, my wholeness. I am not scant; I am immeasurably whole. I will share with you a wholeness like you’ve never even seen, perhaps like you didn’t know was possible. And when I come to the end of it, we will move on through a wholeness anew, together. I would rather be alone than without new wholeness, together, and wholeness is only in you. I love you with every person I have ever been, and you would love me too, all of them.  There is a bottomless spring in my heart, but I haven’t drawn water from it in years; I haven’t had the need to. In you, I need it. I want to go diving again; I want to pull you under with me, swim with you, holding you, loving you, through depths of miraculous meaning, through channels of limitless laughter, swift and dreamy-eyed, tragic and romantic.

Oh my, my… it all overwhelms me! It’s like everything I’ve ever lived, every optimism I’ve ever held, every hope I’ve ever dared to hope, swelling up all at once from inside me, bubbling up out of my eyes, splashing at my feet and flooding me. It’s like the good days, it’s like deep in the soul of pure goodness, a sense unto which I’ve stumbled before, which I never thought I’d see again; the scent is familiar. The feeling in my feet, the wholeness. I would do anything for you; I  know it at once. I would die for you, for whatever that’s worth. Perhaps that isn’t worth very much; I have destroyed myself well enough already, I have shown a willingness for death. But I would do it all again, if this evil old universe called for it, if it meant a life versus nothing for you. Fresh life, breathed in from the world, shared without fear just between us. Imagine the sights, imagine the landscapes to live; a lighthouse on the rocky shore of Maine, driving at night under stars up the coastline, the candy and the bowling pins, different windows lit up in all different lights, progressions easily onwards, recessions lovingly backwards; all protestations, disappearing; a bathtub, claw feet, over the boroughs, candles and silver and newspapers, flowers when we ate, hardwood heated floors for the winter, and how I would hate it, and how you would comfort me, and how we would run away in the worst of it to the sweet Southern countryside; the countryside, a home in the heart of the homeland, the cotton fields and floral prints and ancient family history; mid-century reminiscence, the mystical heat wafting up off the earth like a turpentine gauze; bibles, buffaloes, lambs coming home to the fold; there be the printing press, there by the fishing pond, there by the wooden pianos; a truck, coming over the hillside, past the cemeteries; together, we’ll climb mountains. There is a place by the sea that I know of, the likes of which you’ve never seen; a place, like a romance, bound by mind immemorial. There are forts, full of laughter, that stand over cliffs, over oceans. There are fields in other countries, alive and flowering fields, and there are horses, and birds, moving through them; angels at the gates, and they give us their blessings. We are a perfect enigma; together, you know, we can riddle it. We can unravel and weave, moving in tandem to the changes of time, two humans holding each other close in the corridors of astral abstraction. I have means; but you do not care for means. I have legacies; but you do not care for legacies. I am handsome; do you mind that I’m handsome? I am broken; do you mind that I’m broken? I would tell you I’m strong, I’d be lying. But at least I have means; I least I’m a legacy. Once we took a picture together – do you remember that? I dream of it in my daily routine. There are so many other ways it could have been; so many things I would have liked to say, to do, to show you, somehow or other; so many ways I could have lived, so many lives, with you in them.

I have built from the ether a comfortable cradle; please, let me cradle you. I learned how to play an instrument, because a song, even alone, changes everything. Tears streaming freely from eyes; sunshine forever descending. I play for myself, for no other – no one other than you, would that we were all alone, and you listened. You would notice, soon, that I am dreary; I am complex, retired, old-fashioned; I contain, like Whitman, my multitudes, and in them many splendid things lay waiting, many tired tragic things, waiting for someone to come to them,waiting to rise up and kiss them, waiting to open the tomes of transcendence. One such multitude plays music, sings Blue Moon on a ukulele. I had a dream that I sung you Blue Moon by the moon on my ukulele; it was a terrible dream to awake from. But I woke up, and I learned Blue Moon, and I waited to play it for you, awaiting with prayer for a moment to come to remember, the moment where I sung for you, as though I were a singer; it has yet to pass. A fool, on a ukulele, looking foolish. I read a book for you; I started reading many books. I recited poetry and I began speaking French; French was easy. I do not even know if you speak French. I do not even know why I speak it. I began opening curtains; I began hanging pieces of art from the walls of my house, watering plants and positioning furniture into falling rays of the evening sun, in case we ever laid in it, in case we ever shared with plaisant eyes the same complacent beauty, a beautiful home in a beautiful cosmic void, home to two lucky humans, breathing in tangential harmony, diphonious. I am a fool for you; my head is full of foolish, unbecoming thoughts, I have lost my hold on thinking. It is indecent simply to think of you; you are too kind, I am too undeserving. And you aren’t even dreaming of me, as I of you am always dreaming; you aren’t even writing me letters, and burning them up, and then pretending that you sent them. All the foolish dreams I’ve held; I bought all of those nice clothes, I spent all that money on flowers and gifts, I traveled in trains to the edge of the world. I dressed myself up like a paper doll, all for nothing, for vanity, for unanswered prayers. I studied the Bhagavad-Gita, I took up the Bible; and what’s more, I understood them. I saw in every line its own allegorical relevance.  I carved our names on the walls of a cotton mill, alive like a boy in foolish transgression, but then I erased it; it was too much to bear. What I mean is – well, do you see what a spin I’m in! I’m careening onwards through enlightenment, eyes wide open, running towards you, losing track of time, losing track of all my tired resolutions. I have seen the way you see the sky; and so I’ve seen it too! I see it is blue; I see it is beautiful. I see that I need it, and that I have it, and it has me; so too I see you.

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