I set down my knotted club, my Basket-hilted Claymore, my M16, my lance, and my Double action revolver.
Though in my youth I loved blood, I one day grew tired of it.
Just as I loved many things — doughnuts and roller coasters, colored crayons and later, blowing up ants with Black Cats in jelly-jars— I moved on to other loves:
Kung Pao Chicken, peach ice cream, applause-applause-applause, languorous hours in a shared bed, Charlie Parker’s alto, Luther Allison’s frosty slide, and all things that made my head feel light.
I felt — rather then knew — that these things were important and so I set up my life as a fisherman might, with a seine stretched out over a wide river.
I’d grow hungry and impatient for them to lose their way in my net, and when they did, I’d whack them on the head with a wrench, gut them, cook them over a flame and eat them; bones, eyes, skin, teeth and all.
Being sated was the best feeling, and also the worst because then, with my belly full to bursting, I also knew it was time to fish again.
The air by the river was always cold and the gnawing thought came —though I tried to repress it: “These things you gorge upon don’t stave off hunger; they only increase it, don’t they?”
And so it was that I turned away from these river-things as well, or tried, because one never truly can.
Now, to describe where I turned next and where that road has taken me.
It leads up past the sandy soil, out beyond the screeching murder of airborne crows, and through the first whispers of morning light. Finally, it runs lonely and sometimes broken-hearted, to the edge of what is like —but is not, ocean.
I employ the word ‘ocean’ only to allude to vastness, and to danger, and to something, which by its essential darkness covers and hides. The thing that it covers is love.
Now you might say, ‘Love isn’t hidden. It is known.’
But I don’t believe it is known. Not like the Kung Pao, not like the alto sax, not like the languor.
We grasp for those things and then stuff them whole, in our gaping mouths. And soon afterwards, when they’ve performed their slight-magic upon us, they leave and we retreat. Or we drop from a great false sky… (I’m never sure which) back into a state of need.
Love as I imagine it, never leaves us.
I’m not sure —because no one can be sure of this, but I believe I have tasted it once or twice, in its purity and weight.
One pintsized taste of love erases need immediately. And so I seek it now, because I know there is nothing else.