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The impossible.

I had to give a great speech to a filled hall, beginning with a flute sonata, and to recite from several books only two of which I recognized, which I accomplished, though it took everything out of me as I tried to hold my posture erect and, failing that, at least look good on the balls of my feet--this being nearly impossible, I tired to give the illusion of weightlessness, or at the very least a sense of rapprochement with gravity, whereby my head remained light while my heart suffered and my soul burned, so that when asked to run, run for all I was worth, which I tell you was not much by then, because of the pressure to demur to those around me, cajoling and demanding, I fled with a kind of verve even I did not foresee since I was preoccupied with having abandoned a project it's true only a genius or a madman might have finished and which I had, frankly, more or less accomplished by accident, intuition, and a sudden burst of confidence which shocked even my dearest, and succeeded in reaching the famous Crystal Springs heretofore thought to be imaginary, a thing of wonder but without substance, without substantiation, such blueness and liquidity, it was unbelievable, but true, that I stopped on a dime, resisting a personal moment that surely would have overwhelmed anyone so haunted and so driven by so many, and experienced what can only be described as a disappointment, plain and simple, not because the waters were any less majestic, any less transparent than rumored, in fact, blue beyond the cerulean of sky over a south high in the mountains of deepest earth, purpled, nearly black, that is, if one thought of the sun ever going down into such waters, sad because I had never been more in love, more given over to any one person, place, or thing, and all of existence seemed paltry next to such feeling, if one did not count the few stones that uncannily caught my eye, pebbles I almost smashed out of a euphoria that overcame and nearly destroyed me--a taste of heavenly winds swept my narrow body, tickling my ribs with a fancy singing of spirit, tempting, perfumed--but for the damned six or seven loosely strewn aforementioned ugly little rocks that buckled my knees with their gray snaky surface, pimpled, rough, impossibly connotative, i.e., I saw a thousand lakes in the landscape of a bird-shat mossy clump glombed to a crag, and bat faces and bear paws and exoskeletal histories from beyond time, and so on, which held me face down, less recalcitrant than I had ever been, trust me on that, and evermore eager to obey, the longer I picked out lunar hills and valleys and the more hushed I got between one ancient, practically moribund, megalith and another, beamed, so to speak, from oblivion, the body of universe opened into a gaping mouth whose lips mercifully shined with the handiwork of creation, or at least seemed that way to me, by now flattened to the cold damp floor, reddened with the liveliness of movement, and of sweat, crimson then, and moving, mouthing something, speaking in tongues but almost immediately my language, words I once dared to call, I grant you in a dream, the language of love, which in this case hastened to particularize itself in the being of a face, and then the hair and eyes and costume of beatific figures transsexualized by ritual and political charioteering such that I no longer knew myself but rather a consortium of likenesses whose cocksureness is colloquialized as immediately as the words for it are spoken--a roaring of motorcycles and then hundreds of faceless, because one face, hermaphroditic moderns blazed by, upstaging the monochromatic past with theatric mauves and chartreuses, white-faced and mascara-ed images, eyebrowless, and I found myself in full color, reproduced electronically, as it were, so eroticized as to be unreal, a diorama o'erpowering everything else in common limelight-dykes on bikes, fag hags, drag queens, steroidal buffs, midnight blue black semi-nudes, boytoys, unzipped sado-masochistic six-foot tricks, the semi-erect, the innocent, in gym shorts and in slips, tuxedos, t-shirts and cut-offs, jeans impaled at the crotch--godly, larger-than-life meaning assigned to them by messages spelled out on their chests, "Silence Equals Death," etc., until, so engorged, their numbers blur into a mass of energy that finally disperses into the missions and the tenderloins from whence they came, into the planetary city named irreverently and made familiar by necessity, "sex," and I passed out onto those innocuous stones, trifles I might have missed another day, waking to stumble between two destinations, home or on, knowing I had forgotten--o alcatrazed face, betrayed, abandoned! --more than any metaphor provided because it too is ultimately betrayed and abandoned, forgotten life because of this paper face, this alphabet and these blanks I trusted, naturally, like a form of breathing, life I have to return to which I made more difficult than walking off the globe by imagining I had to say a few tired words into an ear, near-empty auditorium ... beginning with a couple of shot notes, only some of which I'd actually written ...
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Author:Miller, Jane
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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