Wednesday, February 16, 2011


A black iron gate, open no more than a nudge, leading up and away from a winding paved road: an entrance or exit? Such a path could be used to get in or get out, but let’s up my own ante and imagine a gun, loaded and cocked, the tip of its barrel quite cold and intense against your soft secret scalp. You have to make a choice: Is this gate designed, at its core, to let someone in, or keep someone else out? You cannot split hairs, or else the gun on its own will do a fine savage job of splitting your own greying hairs with a force that will render yourself as a being considerably moot. You have to answer, definitively: Is it, primarily, at its core, an entrance or an exit? A simple question, ostensibly. All questions are simple, essentially. They simply pose varied thoughts. It’s the answers that give us such diverse forms of grief.

Perhaps a scenario or two might provide some relief. Imagine yourself out for a nice walk in the country on a night with no moon, while a car with no headlights hunts you down to your death. One can presume its intent, for the car is revving and grinding and moaning behind you, a mad beast in great heat, its prey none but you. Everything is dark, including your hope. You can feel its approach the way you would a great love who might soon lick your ear. A part of you almost craves this encounter with cold twisted metal, savage and brief, if only to compare its brute smash with your love’s slender tongue. A touch is a touch. That side of your shape is small enough to stay deep. The other lines of your rectangle recognize this great doom. For some reason or other, you soon might be dead, so it’s better to flee, or at least find a small haven. On your left as you sprint, you spot a gate open quite wide. The golden light from the lanterns that shine from the black spokes of the gate give you a glimpse of a road leading nowhere but up. To a house? A private club of some sort? If you try a sly dash and run right through that gap, you might soon reach a home, a school or convent. If you entered right now, would that car call your bluff?


Another situation, only this time you find yourself anxious to reach a wide road, two lanes or more, just down some stone steps from your house on a hill. Something is going on in this house. Something has always been going on in this house. This house is your home, but lately this home is also a grave freshly dug, awaiting your coffin just as grass prays for rain. The past few months have unleashed memories deep from within. They bubble up in your brain, just like fizzy froth in cold glasses poured from pop cans freshly popped. (Something to do with fathers and mothers and touches so wrong. And were those brothers of yours on guard duty as well? Did they man the lookout, awaiting their turns, while evil acts were shyly performed with the fondest of slaps in closed fists? Awful, intense moments, refreshed.) You decide you must leave, and at only fourteen, if that! Thirty-six steps to the gate, not one more nor one less. You have skipped down these large stones all your life with such glee. Now you focus not on your stride, but on that gate so damn close, cracked a few inches wide. If you do make it out, life will be wide, not subtle nor strident. Everything will be open. You think, as you start your descent, that you can hear the voice of your father, calling your name, anxious and angry. Thirty-six, thirty-four, thirty-two. (Two at a time, two at a time.) The smell of fall taunting your nose. Thirty, twenty-eight, twenty-six. (Two at a time, two at a time.) Your mother’s voice now, fading, but still shaded so dark with that skewed tone of joy. Twenty-four, twenty-two, twenty. (Two at a time, two at a time.) The gate always remains unlocked in the day, but for some reason you fear that this day might be different. (Two at a time, two at a time.) You can now see sections of pavement through the gate’s iron bars. (Two at a time, two at a time.) If you reach that highway, you can flag down a car, hop in and be off. Everything will alter.


An entrance or exit? One can’t have it both ways. There are priorities in life, choices to make, regrets to endure. These examples, I know, are extreme in their tilt, but is your life and its slant so different in angle? Eventually, you have to choose. You must decide, perhaps daily, what is more important and vital: to enter, even dwell, through those gates up that hill; or that you must, for your life, elude and escape, down those steps, to the road.

Everything else in this life, if not an entrance or exit?

An epilogue, almost.


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