This didn’t begin as a poem, it was a story
Me trying to tell you what I saw, what I thought I had found in you.
It went something like this:
Alone, I have walked this path, for years. Surrounded by others
but alone. Yes,like Alexis Zorba, I am a man.
All of those things I have, or have had.
But I walk alone.
In a late afternoon, close to the fall of night
I spy, to the side of this road I tread, a brightly colored bird
Shivering, alone, at risk to be crushed by passing carts
torn apart by wild animals.
I move toward her and scoop her into my hands
Sister, why are you there ? For what do you wait ?
Don’t you know the risk you face ?
Speaking so, this trembling creature, warmed by my hands and my gentle breath transforms into a beautiful woman
standing in front of me, unclothed.
I quickly throw my old coat over her, so that none of the passers-by will see her but, oddly
just as they didn’t see her sitting by the side of the road, they don’t see her as she stands next to me.
These people pass as if both of us are invisible to them…..we are invisible.
Who are you, why were you there, by the side of the road, at such risk ? What is your name ?
And she says:
Old man, I am sometimes called Helen, other times Persephone, I have another name too, but it cannot be written here. I knew the risk of being crushed, dismembered by wild animals. But you – people like you, men – have crushed me since I was born. I am silent, I am unseen. I am unheard. What do I have to fear from mere death ?
You and those like you have made me thus. My feelings are bottled up, I am the good daughter…unseen, unheard, obedient, without passion.
I beg her, this Helen, to understand that I wish her no ill. That I, too, am alone and though a man, not like those who she has known.
I ask her to walk on this path – life – with me. I will teach you all I know: Life, love, music, science, history……perhaps one day I will say to you that I love you and you will reply in kind….perhaps.
She looks at me with a knowing smile and replies:
We did. was it for a lifetime, years, or only days ? We talked, we laughed, we read poetry – Rumi, the master of love – and over the years….or days…I do tell her I love her and she replies, similarly.
We eat. We even make love.
She says……for always. I say…forever.
This story – not a poem – should end here, but, of course, it doesn’t.
If you tell a horse that she is a butterfly, eventually she will believe and try to fly
If you tell a kitten that she is a tiger, eventually she will believe and try to attack
If you tell a brilliant woman she is to be obedient, silent, unseen, unfeeling……eventually she will believe this is the way of life.
The way it is
The way it should be
The natural order
My Helen wanted a different life. One of passion, urgency, love, feeling, speech…..one of being seen.
But it is not enough to want. One must battle against what was and what is, to become. To become what might be.
Fear has stopped her.
She is silent
She is barely visible on this path with me.
We no longer walk arm-in-arm
No laughing, no reading, no history. Rumi, lost.
I say, to her:
Together we will battle this fear
Together will will battle your shame
You’ve ruined nothing, you’ve only sat is the wrong chair, put on the wrong clothes. Change them ! Get up !
The end or an interlude ?
I no longer know.
I only hear the silence.
I only feel, again, the solitude of this path.
I walk and wait.
Is hope a fools errand ?
28 May, 2017
Longitude 41.0082 degrees N
Latitude 28.9784 degrees E