“From which stars have we fallen to meet each other here?” Nietzsche
I trudged across a snowy parking lot this morning and could not help but think of Zhivago, the poet at the time of revolution. The writer Pasternak caught that moment in time. The snow deep and then shallow, snow blowing into my scarf, into my eyes, seeing only my shoes….the snow gradually breaking into a muddy road. Zhivago, with the soft eyes of the poet, Zhivago, the doctor who loved and lost, Zhivago, who looking out across the Russian plains saw the summer fields of grasses and flax, thistle and wheat; in winter, the dark forests looming at the edge of meadows. Zhivago who heard the grey wolves calling and saw them gather at his cabin in the dawn of early morning. And Zhivago who saw the blood of Revolution splatter on his fields, in his forests, dark red blood falling on the white, white snow. The poet who could not catch Laura and whose heart grabbed him with a fatal crushing blow. Zhivago, who in the middle of a war zone saw only her. Because love is what matters.
“…the rest is rust and stardust.” Nabokov
When things are overwhelming, when things happen of great magnitude, I think it must be better to look at something small, something familiar, or something small and close, like dust: tiny flecks floating in the sunlight of a window. Or dandelions, dandelions seeds that float like wishes….or to think about the tiny dust mites that make me sneeze. The horizon is too much. For instance, when I look at the vastness of the sky, or think of the force that made our giant mountains, the burning of the sun, and the magnetic pull of the planets, the pull of the moon at the tides, the spirits of thousands whose lives were cut short before their time, the governments of the world– maybe it’s best to turn to the small things: the tiny particles, the quick smile, the blades of grass, the first glance of lovers, the laughter of friends, a chocolate chip cookie, a smooth rock on the ground. If you blink you’ll see it.
You ask if I am angry, and I don’t have an answer. He was my friend. Just my friend. But can the word friend be modified by “just?” The first week after his death lasted a year…a lot of swearing —that he didn’t have to hear of my death, and he was not there to call. Now I’d say I’m just astonished. Sometimes panicked. More than anything this weirdness… no trip to Asheville, no Fitzgerald, no Zelda. We could’ve discussed madness and love….and now I’m left talking to myself.
I think of my own dying – will I savor each dying blink, each blink something holy? With one blink a sunset, the next a wildflower, another a mountain stream?….or racked with pain, just colors and patterns…? The latter much more likely.
We weren’t lovers, just good friends. Maybe we’ve been friends for thousands of years, the Spock and Kirk of Athens. (Or wait, that’s Pam and Janet). We were more like Laurel & Hardy I think, cheering each other into comedy. When he came to town we talked about physics – Star Trek gadgets, the speed of change, the Higgs particle, biotech and wine. We discussed Baudelaire and Bukowski, Dali and Chagall… reincarnation and Catholicism…also cars and grocery shopping. You see, I always looked forward to seeing him again.
I was lucky. So how can I be angry when I was so lucky? I am not sure I’ve even processed it at all. And if I go deep, well it’s panic.
I wanted to talk about Joni Mitchell, “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get back to the garden…” or Woody Guthrie, “this guitar kills fascists.” I’d forgotten that you’d seen the concentration camps, and a memorial now comes to you. I think we must stand up like Woody Guthrie…. but mostly it’s about love. I’m tired of division, of seeing how we’re different. Let’s see how we’re alike, at least a little. One of the last things we talked about after election night, was what to do now? He said “Right now I don’t even know what to do,” I said “spread kindness.” He said “that’s a very Buddhist response, Ms. Chaos. ” I don’t talk like that. I’ve never said “spread kindness.” What the hell? I must be so tired. Just sick and tired. Let’s be hippies. I just watched the musical Hair.
Have you noticed the massive amount of brightly colored birds on the internet recently? I just came across the “Golden Pheasant.” I mention this because it’s just amazing and it’s better than anything I’ve ever written. A silly bird…so much better than a poem. So many colors for one bird. And Kevin, he’d have liked a random bird on this page. (Also we must not forget the Snow Geese. Since everyone else has. Who will monitor the SuperFund sites? )
Click to see it walking. Golden Pheasant – we are stardust/we are golden…pheasants.
The universe gives me all kinds of reasons for his death…he was under stress…he didn’t exercise enough…Trump got elected…the idea that when your “number is up,” your number is up. None of these are suitable reasons. I go underwater if I think too deeply about it. My brain goes away as if I’m playing a deep game of poker, as Ferlinghetti would say, “Deep Chess.” His friends tell me we’ll meet again in another life. It’s not a bad thought…but just as massive and inconceivable….like starlight, light years away, reflecting our sun, traveling across the universe into our eyes. Blinking, soft, blinding.
What stars have we fallen from..? We are all fallen angels trying to save each other when the demons come. Dust of stars, dust of angels. All this leads me to think of mortality, walking through walls, monasteries, Zhivago, the sudden brilliance of the sky, the sky more brilliant since his loss. The nightly news rages on….and in what world do we dismantle the EPA? In what world do we push through an oil pipeline without an Environmental Impact Study? In what world do we separate immigrant children from their parents? I can hardly watch the news right now, but can’t take my eyes off of it. I walk through the unpolluted mountain streams of my youth, the cornflowers and black-eyed Susan pushing through the branches of willows.
Kevin was always leaving, the minute I knew him he moved away, we rarely spent time in the same city. I am so sorry still at the loss of your friend, the one you lost so long ago, so much more immediate and hard. I never knew how to make it any better. I think they’re here with us in one way or another. In spirit, as they say.
I remember that when one falls in love, every song is about love. I’ve dated too many musicians. I didn’t date Kevin and he wasn’t a musician. You see how great that is, right? Now the radio mocks me…. plus I have this CD of goodbye songs from the last time he moved away. After ten days, I’m now putting it away.
A few mornings ago, on the way to work, a sundog rose above miles of prairie, changing as the clouds intersected it, moved it higher in the sky, making the blue deeper, the red brighter, the green darker…a vertical rainbow…until it disappeared, pushed away by clouds, but headed to the sun. So cliché, my friend, I know– but still…. it was there.
I understand how it’s easy to be scattered right now. I want to be like the light, like the split light of prism…each color called out to reveal itself, each one brighter than the next. Focused and brilliant and beautiful until I die. Let’s be that.