“The past is gone but something might be found/To take its place” – Hey Jealousy, Gin Blossoms
Thirty-four looks out at a cavernous darkness, exhilarating and
no better word than strange. He assented.
You can say that again. Suddenly it’s as if
you’re seeing everything for the first time.
That Gin Blossoms song comes on the radio for the 892nd time, but now
you’ve been 29 and in no shape for driving
and asking to just crash here tonight knowing you didn’t mean a couch
because it wasn’t a metaphor but actually the closest to asking for love
you could manage.
You could never imagine yourself so
cowardly when it played in all those films
when you were twelve.
And some things feel so big and looming and
that you could no longer simply imagine yourself historical, what would I
have done in 1106, 1492, 1873,
1927, 1969? It had always still been
the flatness of being in the moment but
at 34 shit there it was suddenly, flat and
up against your skin,
this is what fate
actually means. What you did in 2010. What you will do
in 2017. It must be digging your feet
into the mud of things,
naming them, clutching them, gnawing them, ferociously eating them
down to the bones, breaking the bones, sucking out the marrow, licking your lips
and looking out disgusting and
calm at the
dinner table full of hungry nibblers
desperate, quietly fumbling
at the edge of a sliver of sustenance
dangling on tiny golden cocktail forks. You
know yourself a subject, defiant —
in the ugliness of your hunger.
No more time
for pretending you do not break open the bones
and suck out the marrow. You realize
that babies just drop in and hope for the best. You realize
that mothers begin to die and
can only pray that they have raised
children who love them. You realize
that if you see that it needs to be done
then it’s your purpose to find a way
to do it. That is what God
means. That is the recipe
of the history of anything worthy. You cannot
take back knowing; it is
not a world for children,
for some fearful reckoning of time. He listens, so quiet —
tired, but he always listens if she needs it.
I must do this work and
I am scared. It’s bigger than I am
and it will eat me up.
But I know the kind death I want.
I just needed to say that to someone.
I just needed to say that to you.
I don’t know why. I’m sorry.
Thirty-four is just something else.
He sighs a little, a grin
tugging at the edges of it, coming over the
phone like a photograph. Yeah, he says,
it’s okay. I’m still 33, but
I know what you mean.