In the Places of the Paths – Michael Savignano

It has to happen now, see? We’re not littered with time, and if time’s stolen away, well then we’re left with the fact that it has to happen now. The telling and the going. Behold the merciful dove ascending and the watching eye’s hover dagger. I feel it only seconds after waking, forgetting where I am, hypnotized by the mesmer-scent of the honeysuckle and the golden light in broken sunshards. These visions slip through the fern thickets, and the clotheslines are sprawled like spiderwebs. What patient palingenesis. And oh god, it’s only then, drifting and walking into wake, through the echoing halls of the vast soul of vacant man, and the girl from Récicourt humming an old tune in the outdoor shower, wet puddle wood, eyes drifting to watch the drunken bees sip their nectar. This, the Kantists call appearances, subjective time, intuited space. Eden then. Transcendent then. But now? how did I arrive at this abysmal place? How did I get here? It’s no matter of where’s here, it is a question of time, it’s a question of many decisions, it’s a question of compounding interest. All that’s forgotten with the black dead herd of ghosts and the rubber churn of the hearsewheels, and you look around and where is everything and where did it all fear off to? When the bottom falls out in anger and pity, and it’s only then with the sphinx sun like a hot devil’s flame roasts red your glowing cheeks, and it’s only then when you lift the great stone sarcophagus lid, mining through those sick coffined colonnades of sand, when you realize it. Fate is a black curse. The source and the end are one in the dunes of dust, a oneness sealed away in the enigma of disembodied hush, the undivulged deathly form. A bitter and cropless winter. This silence is our poetic theology, this horror is our mystic vocation. It’s all dancing light, this wrongfully possessed life. And there’s not much time, not much time to reach the pale tides. But there’s some time, some quantity, some extension. For I see Sophia’s lighted face obscured behind the rose window, and it was first the light that left her eyes like sunstreams wending upward and we huddled with the dog and looked for that owl in the blue barnhouse, wrecked by the decades of wind and rot, and the apple orchards and the dirt in mounded rows of pagan hovel, and oh god, why think of this now? these wilting images in the curls of sleep and dreaming glow, oh god, why now? for a moment I was at peace, in riverrunning dream, and the owl hooting like a raging, cornered beast, and Sophia, you approached it and the light burned real slow, and seemed to split the whole barn agape with its violent glow. And we ran coughing in the ashblack smoke of the coming wildfire. Oh god and it all was razed and so, I think, was the damned cornered owl who hooted like a beast, with you all teary-eyed from the smoke and wheezing winds of the blackflamed horizon, and then time rushed in like a blind current and I can’t remember your name, your glow dims, and my split soul looks back like two bodies tied back-to-back. Am I Aristophanes’ splitman? Artifice arms flailing from the last moments of the sacred dream. But it was you. I see your tearing eyes and I can see them disappearing, and oh god. Why now? From the stony well, I disturb the buried titans and pull buckets of sick algae water to drink from the drained pool of substance, and I’ve been to Carthage and I’ve been to Corinth, but I can’t tell the future from the past. Maybe tomorrow we’ll be lying in that meadow beneath the alders, where the blankets laid low the tall grass, listening to the choir of katydids and watching the raptor curves of hunting hawks, just sitting in the sunbake. Maybe then I’ll fall asleep in tender arms, hot and sweat-wet from the walking and the dirt-trail heat, odor of horsedung, and maybe then I’ll awake to tender arms, and I’ll look around, and not feel the shock, not feel the long falling of it all. But one can combine silence and speech into a riddle-language. And you can reason yourself mad. Unfold it and infold it. What’s left, but the fragile smile of the overburdened demiurge, buried deep in earthly roots and where rests the hidden eternal form? In dumb searching stares, I look for a distant mandorla and eye a hallowed figure step through the daystar. But once more, one plague, wrapped like a burnt corpse, this earthly life. And maybe I’ll awake to russet eyes in amber evening trance. Ah, holy hearth & heart! You, reading Huysmans thinking of converting. You, reading Gass as a word diversion. And catch wind ’em, art can’t be revolutionary, it’s the substance of the promised land! Yes, one plague, under the starlight, tone of the singing sky.

And it all broke loose that spring and the birds sang like greek chorus in sounds untethered, no downcast sign, and you tracked the circuit of the sun. Do not fall to those low and indigent spirits, you said, but ascend to discover how the principal speech, songs, and dance dictate motion’s moral behavior, and observe how these are incited by the heavenly bodies. You, with the visage of the land surveyor, moonfaced and glorious, charting the stars and weighing the odds, Child of Tethys, with the father ocean’s swift wind, and we’d walk and walk and follow the ridgeline through the thickets and underbrush, and machete with karate chops and giggle and dumbjoke and dance and treeclimb, sitting beneath the alders and the songbirds this time of year chirping, some glad mornin’, when this life is over… Look, the dying sun setting low, touching its resurrection, and the endless day beget, and the carrying on, the carrying on. You, two-sided sun of salvation and doom. Ah, again, the unseen eye, flying along the ridgeline, shade of the earth, the face of faces is veiled in all faces. But awaking, I’m lost in prison sheets, uninitiated, why now, why here? The steersman is on the riverbank. We’ve come, we’ve come at last to the far-flung tract of land, and the ticks ain’t crawling on these bare rocks. Lying in the sun, prisoner to the lost sense of things, you and I in lockstep under spring ceiling. Under the sun’s fire, you eye yourself like a jailor in self-hate, but then the songbird’s mystic tune would carry you off, oh glory, and you’d feel things you don’t really feel and they’d sink like stones in mud. So you tore away, and you tore away. How many damn times, your own mind fleeing from your body, and you tore away and were stalked by the grey hunter, and the consequences of tearing away, and oh god, now’s the time. How did I arrive here, refuge of a long desert dream? For a moment, I was with Time, swimming in its current, not left to drown, to drown in these terrestrial thoughts, with the wild pigs and the jackrabbits and the dragonflies. But my heavy-eyelids burnt open and I was covered in your long black dreamlocks. Supernal Sophia. That name I don’t recognize. That name I spell in sand, and it all rained down upon me, that loving embrace like a creek bed. And what are you here for, in this place, at this time? Why must you look at this abominable body, this abominable mind? Sick at the altar of light, lost on the groundless forest floor, and suspended there in unmoving fall. Why?

The woods fill with the elk who’ve fled the meadows. They’re not so blind to the torture of open space, shadows in the grass with their eyes to the storming flood. Now’s the time for the telling. But spring’s masquerade! Ah, it’s a painful thought to awake in false spring, and what did I know? that it’s all for naught? I just wanted to sleep and wake, and maybe…such little time. But on the high hill, look at what unconquerable form she takes!