There were horrendous misunderstandings
quiet pathologies not to be cured or endured
a flaying of some inner skin
too fragile for the surgeon’s suture
too enmeshed to be unwoven
too silent to be named
too deep even for the mortician’s fluids
too old to be remembered or forgotten–
an ever present absence of memories
toying mercilessly with peace of mind.
Heir to your furious truce with the world
I negotiate an amnesty for my heart
under a hopeful white flag I wave
over the grounds of your demise.
Grieving, yes. Not happy you are dead,
But relieved. Riveted by the thought
that perhaps now I can deal
with you. Who you were.
Who you are in me.
What should be the posture here
of my lawyers and ambassadors?
Hold you to the accounting
for what you did and did not
insist upon a just and lasting
finality of responsibility…well then…
fearful the monster I contemplate:
a father who for conveniences of secrecy
would subvert his legacy to a son
cashier the only inheritance worth receiving–
the knowledge of who one’s father is.
I jettison this ogre
recalling that you, too, were stamped
sealed and delivered by your sire
your own fragility blasted like mine
your love dust that caked
and ached in your throat.
Nothing, little at least, was your fault.
Without my judgement
you are like me simply responding
to the realities that accumulate
countering pain and shoring walls
however we can, wherever we must.
Then is a moment of release
mirrored in our reflection. Anger dries
and compassion floods, feeling much like love,
an opium of forgiveness warmly engulfing
dark internal spasms of the unconscious.
But then the incessant thought returns:
if your father made you and mine made me
then I will make my son and he his
and it will all be because
of what happened and what endured
throughout the bondage
of every generation’s link.
Then what sort of monster is this?
Not one of evils
but of a misbegotten past
and an impotent future
the thrust being we could not do otherwise
whatever our aspirations.
You had yours I have mine my son his.
To exchange, that is, a painful drama
for a reassuring cycle, relieving the tension
of an open plot with a forgone cynicism
a projected trajectory of abuse and abuse and abuse.
Nothing, little at least, can be our fault.
So of fault, yours or your fathers? Or mine?
My fault for blaming knowing your crime?
Or fault of forgiving knowing your motive?
You were done by. You did. I got. I gave.
And the timeless turning of this wheel
is the testimony of generations.
All scriptures are apologies for this.
To do better than you were done by
this is the final sacrifice
of all that vengeance holds dear
and even of a simple sense of justice.
Turning the other cheek is not
the pious acceptance of the blow.
It is the only conceivable way
Of assuaging one’s own impotence
And accepting the abuser’s love.
This, above all else, was the shreaving of Christ.
So shall I condemn you to my anger
and myself to irreconcilable pain
by declaring you guilty of willful
parental malfeasance? Or, more or less
palatable (depending on the angle of view)
witness our our mutual guilt and shame
in a witless cycle of action and reaction
understandable and therefore comforting
You see my dilemma.
It seems we must learn to accept
and be fulfilled by increments.
No step taken can ever be withdrawn
and if it is in the right direction
that is all the traveler can ask.
Nearer, rather than farther, is perhaps
the only genuinely imaginable goal
an endpoint being the fevered dream
of the truly lost and damned.
You did better than you were done by
and in the reverence of heroic acts
the sins that fell lose relevance.
History’s repetitions are crushing
and the fragile floating wisp of love
lighter than the air that twists it
is the only thing that ever escapes
the impending weight of what has fallen.
Here is the truth of it: I love you.
Not the hurricane of love that flattens
facts before it. Not the cloying breezes
that seduce and stupefy the pain…
just love…mute and impotent…
desiring nothing but to have itself
to cling to the clinging, and in clinging
strangle the rage that would require remittance,
beyond humility, beggardly for alms
no one can give no bowl receive.
This then the legacy: love. Not toward
because there is no lap to catch it
not from, but born of windless air
that stands in its motionless vortex
thrashing mutely with no witness.
Love not for, not from, but just the fact
of not nothing, to feel the wind against the skin
that would not be there but for me.
And would it be me there but for the wind?
Substance is only the friction between
Two emptinesses that colliding create a surface
an outline a dancing cadaver joyous
in the midst of its own laughing demise.
Joy without bounds because it has no cause
no ancestor no debts no grave to revisit,
no guilt no promise of redemption
nothing to pray for nothing to shreave
nothing but the only thing that is not nothing
of which only one thing can honestly be said
it inhabits this life, vividness its only feature,
this hollowness left by the thumb in the wax,
visible, finally, because of what is no longer there.
Copyright October 31, 2005 by Deane Juhan