Saturday, September 09, 2006
I saw a leaf ghost today.
In reality, there is no such thing as a leaf ghost. There is only the "leave ghost," which came from something Rosie told me, freshman year probably: that I should write a poem about the leaf ghosts, the brown etchings that lie on the sidewalk after a leaf has laid there and been washed of dirt, by what I don't know. But I titled the story quick, and far too quick to keep from memorializing forever an improper singular, and now the leave ghosts are ever.
I saw a leave ghost today. The meaning I mapped onto the ghosts was this: that I had no idea and have none still of how a leaf should fall onto the pavement, time should pass, and when the leaf is blown away there remains this dirty silhouette, a chocolate charcoal chalk outline of what was. But it does, it marks. And, it is this phenomenon and none other that governs what experiences will mark our memories. Some leaves fall, and some stick, and some stain the pavement, and some don't, and where is the reason for the discrepancy? And experiences flood over us always, but there are so many that I shall never think of again though I lived them, sure as fire, and then there are those that marked and burrowed.
You tell me the formula. What governs the fields of lacunae in my brain where once, I intuit, something happened and I breathed it.
The permanence is illusionary. In time some janitor or spell of rain will arrive, and wash what perchance remained away. The leave ghosts fade as the leaves did in the fall. And these memories have stuck with me--Allison and I had hot chocolate together, Nick and I broke into the music department late one night, I've held both of my brothers in drunken bumbling tears and comforted as I could, and I bled tears when the vet told me he'd kill my dog--these are not permanent; in time, should I grow old, the Alzheimer's of predestination will awake in the crevices of my synapses and feast on my myelin stores until I am a husk so hollowed that I will not know the husk I've become. The memories and the ghosts will be food for the gutter.
But no matter, for the ghosts were there, and they did mark, and though time feasts upon itself and rots in the sun, nothing shall erase the imprint of the imprint of what I've done.
Oh, remember this. Remember, please, what has marked this holy pavement even if I should forget. Tonight Jay and I drank Scotch and gin and watched Blade Runner and an old Salvador Dali/Bunuel picture, and it happened, and it touched the felt of my not quite liquid brain, and I swallowed olives and laughed and felt peace for the clear crystal moments that are the resounding of some great universal clock chiming. And I made Jay download the Liebestod, from the Andalusian Dog soundtrack, because it is arguably the most beautiful thing ever composed. A soprano groped deep into her heart and bellowed vainly to lift her grief above the orchestra pit. A night where such jewels were spilt as:
SCOTT: You know the reason the second and third Matrix movies sucked? It's because they tried to complete a complex system. But Goedel has already proven that any complex system is by necessity w-incomplete, and therefore, when they tried to complete it, it turned out stupid.
JAY: I think my cleaning service is messing with me.
SCOTT: You should mess with them.
JAY: Well, I've thought of--wait. What?
SCOTT: Like hide a bunch of frogs in a cupboard. Or, or, or a bloody hatchet in the bathroom!
JAY: Like when I met one of my old friends the other day. I mean, I'm not in bad shape, but this guy was so skinny, and now he's in great shape. Makes me feel bad.
SCOTT: I know what you mean. Like once, there was this kid, Mike, and man he was always so skinny back in the day. But I saw him, not too long ago, and he'd grown a third arm--and it was beefy. And I'm like--man, what have I done? I haven't grown anything.
SCOTT: I thought it was stupid, and this puzzles me because I think Dali's paintings are beautiful, if disturbing. Perhaps when one struggles on that boundary between art and non-art, by which I mean "the stupid", he can create great masterpieces, but the cost he pays is that occasionally he makes really ridiculous crap.
SCOTT: Just listen to Isolde wail! Think of it! He was the one, the only one. It was a romance born of some potion, but it doesn't matter, because there can be no other, and now--now, now he's dead, and there's nothing more for her, nothing but the funeral pyre.
Remember this, when the dendrites creak with age and what sparks fly go out of habit only. Remember that one man, this man, dreamed of heroism, even if he never attempted it. That he blogged to ease the pressure of existential valves. Know he believed in romance when the coroner had declared it non-existent. That he swung his heart like a wet bola and let it fly and smash and smush into whatever thing that life dared to commit. That one man, this man, looked for good and tried to do it, that one man wandered in the night and sometimes felt a heat of something that could be meaning and ran for it when he wasn't too timid to run for it.
That I snapped a picture of a leave ghost, and thought of Dr. Schubert, who I first told the tale of the leave ghosts; she still remembers them, and so do I. That I listened to Brazilian jazz move from cosmic truth to melodramatic echo of decadence as drunken girls prattled on the subway platform. That the trains passing sounded bells that were sweet in the air. That for the gin on my brain and the eagerness of the keys I know every word I'm typing and swear by it.
Know this in a thousand years, even if no one remembers, when the Schwann cells are petrified and the axons are limp. Pluck a nebula quill, my God, and dip it in a star, and stain this into the universe like the last and first leaf.
Oh God, there were days, and there will be more, and they are more than oak leaves in the gale. I've sung and I sang and I'll sing.