Sunday, August 21, 2011

cross an ocean

There were days of relentless sun, enveloping heat that would sit on your chest and forehead. Greeting with warm and deep embrace, like a boisterous friend you don't want to see. I would stand in the relief of the breeze overlooking the people, walking, sleeping, yelling, sitting, sweating. The colored buildings stretched in every direction and the animals crawled through the sand like animals. I was king then. I spoke and people listened, they watched my passing movements. I would sit in my filthy den and spark out orders or weave them into delicate tales and they were taken - with love, with callow sincerity. They came to me, spoke to me, crying, laughing, curiously wondering.

But more than this, I knew the kingdom. I could wind through the paths, the streets. The dust and the sounds of the road whispered and shouted to my ears. I would eat like the fat man with coins jingling in my pocket and dirty faces winking in the distance.

I was in love then - not with pulsing breasts and pink lips, not with kind sparkling eyes and soft affection, but with black tar and squawking birds, with thick wet air, hard tough meat, tall gnarled trees and bodies that were as the salt of the earth.

I would grin in the sunlight and weep by the moonlight. My mind would drift like a cloud, across oceans and mountains and through time and then rain large warm drops that slid down my body over and under my clothing, only sometimes getting me wet.

I could wave my fist at the same stars that laid over that place, but everything has changed.There were words then, same as now. Hot and cold, light and heavy, salty and sweet. Thousands and thousands. Some words you remember. I remember a room once and a grey-haired old man staring at me. They said he could see my soul, but he couldn't. Or maybe he could, but it's all the same. He said that man will love the last place and look longingly toward the next one. But he won't be happy with the one he's in, unless he adjusts himself, changes himself. Maybe he knew how to change, maybe not. He lived hard. But he seemed sincere. I think there was love somewhere, behind vague eyes and quick words, but I don't know.

Now I live in a painting. Large and colorful. I am only a small figure, but I hardly look anywhere else. The horizon is taller now, there is less sky and less brown. The air is quieter and less populated - the people look out windows here. House windows, car windows, store windows. I look out windows.

The kings here are different. I know less of them and I am not one of them. Sometimes I stand back and watch like I am wise, but it is softly now. With careful words and furtive glances.

The kings here are different.

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