“the melancholy twilight” by kate elizabeth
I was blank, like a fenced-off portion of an untouched field of snow. Only my face could be seen amidst my body of snow, and that was just a cut-out from a photograph I remember looking like. Perhaps I cut my face out of the first picture of me that I could find and stuck it, in haste before the final thaw, on the patch of snow that I had identified as me. And somehow I felt that was important to do, to identify myself from the others, while at the same time knowing it wasn’t important at all.
I can always tell myself from the others who assume forms, who come with conditions, and with whom I interact in ways I can only imagine after the interaction has happened. I can tell myself from the particular way that I’m always searching for one set of circumstances that can be ridden out to multiple good endings, like waves can be ridden out to joyous, laughing ends with beach fires launching red-hot, popping embers to the heavens, and showing no sign of dying, for we are ones who can feed the fire and fill the cups with drink until we desire the party to end, and to end happily so that we can do it all again, just this way.
Over and over like a mirror held to another mirror at just the right angle to reflect an infinite tunnel of mirrors, I looked until I found the one. He told me, “I particularly like the way your skin and hair are configured around your bones and brains,” and I smiled, said to him, “Likewise.” So I lay by his side for what they call ever. I lay there thinking I would die if anything happened to him, if either one of us changed our angles or dropped our mirrors altogether. I remember praying infinite secret prayers to a god I thought had the power to freeze this feeling in both of us and protect us from injury and old age and death. But we would always wake to playing a kneejerk game of ego against ego, a game designed to destroy the idea of permanence by proving over and over there was no such thing.
As a blank portion of snow I can laugh now, but then I was not amused. Then, I railed against there being no control of our waking lives and even in our dream lives we could but watch what happens. Only one life is more mundane and the other more fantastic, fantastic because it has no constraints like gravity—which is the same as the ego with its constant wants and worries—holding us down, back and away, at an infinite arm’s length, from what we desire. Only in the fantastic can anything happen, anything at all, and what we desire can be anything at all and not always what we thought it was. Then, I chose the fantastic over the mundane, because I thought they were not one and the same.
And then one time, in the pre-waking fantastic hours, I could see that the things that seem solid to the look and feel of life are, in the end, inconsequential in the realm in which I thought them consequential. To my amazement, nothing was graspable with the hands, because neither my hands, or those things that I wanted to grasp, were solid things that could connect with one another physically, as we know the term, and so I swiped at color-shaped air and missed and tried and tried again and missed.
I thought then, “If I’m to get along here, I’m going to have to change my thinking,” and I moved toward the essence of words that formed ungraspable ideas. At first I did it out of anger and then for survival, and then, although out of my body where it could be said to be too late, I did it naturally, as if I’d always moved this way. I did it as just another idea with mass, rolling with other ideas with varying masses, through and along the fabric of infinite space.
“I will remember this and apply it to my remaining time on earth,” I said. I was certain that the profundity of all that I’d seen had affected me in such a way that I would carry its great force of weight into the waking world. But of course I did not. I awoke with the same empty-handed yearning-yet-knowing that I wake with every day. I woke with the same delicious melancholy, my truest, most constant companion that casts a suspicious eye on graspable things until I drop again into the infinite space of night and search for the graspable things of the day and see how that is conveniently not possible because it’s not necessary.
Click here for more on prompt “#195 – Delicious” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.
Dreams can be so exquisite and waking so mundane and disappointing. You have encapsulated that so well.
Indeed! I’m going to go work on work on that problem in just a few minutes, that is, I’m going to sleep, and while I’m sleeping, I’m going to work on creating dreams so dull that waking is like winning ten million bucks! LOL!
Thanks for coming by, Old Egg. I love your fiction, so will be by your place tomorrow, full of the joy of waking life ; )
hey dont lose heart!
p.s. you have captured it much too perfectly!
Not to worry, AD, I would only lose heart if my delicious melancholy deserted me ; )
Thank you for stopping by, by the way. And I’ll see you, and what you’ve dished up for the prompt, tomorrow : )
“So I lay by his side for what they call ever.”
Your first line hits the heart beautifully, wonderfully, the untouched field of snow a talisman that lingers.
So, delicious essence: portrait of the artist as a melancholy woman. The face against the snow.
Paragraphs 3 and 6 were knockouts for me, antipodal, the exquisite fragility of the mirrors and then the muscular platonic (yet still fleeting) brawn of Logos.
I was struck how the move to Logos was done initially in anger, then survival, and finally to, well, essence. Anger, particularly, after all the ungraspables have been ungrasped, a hitting bottom of sorts, and we turn, at first, in desperation to the page. That “what else is there to do?” brings the torrent forth.
I love your analyses, dear Professor, can barely wait to see what you’ll find diving into one of my haystacks. I never need worry you’ll be stuck with any of the needles within them, for you’re an expert navigator.
I liked the three and six—the fragility next to brawn—observation. They were definite opposites in that way. After that, they say to me the same thing in different ways. They both say, “I was uptight and of the world until I glimpsed a way beyond the world.” Yet even that is not grasped, as in understood, fully… And so there is a railing against that and against impermanence in the waking hours, hence the anger; and there is a reconnecting with the truth of impermanence in deep sleep, and sometimes in the waking hours via fleeting glimpses, hence the relaxing and allowing it just to be for chrissakes. And they run like this over a lifetime—anger one step back, understanding two steps forward. Hopefully.
A bottom-hitting, splattering in desperation onto the page is true. And to further complicate things, along with fighting and seeing the truth of earthly impermanence, into the sixth paragraph came also a fighting and seeing how writing works: At first thinking one can write from a distance, from a place where arty decisions can be made and enforced, like purposing to write ambiguously for the sake of art. Then there’s the realization that that is bullshit, that you don’t manhandle art, it manhandles you. And then, after that dust has settled, there maybe remains a desire to just be a conduit and to try to make a distance again. And this time, the distance is to stay just far enough out from the creative process—just a couple of inches farther than the long monkey arms of the mind can reach—in hopes of presenting ideas that will be of use to writer and reader for entertainment or enlightenment or whatever, but pleasurably useful in some shining way.
Somebody stop me. My but I get creepily reflective at the ends of years…
Yearning yet knowing -fantastic line. There is so much in here. I feel I will need to visit it again to take it in. I like the fine line bewteen fantasy and what I think is reality you create. Thanks for your visit to mine as well.. jae…
Visit all you like, Jae, but here’s the disclaimer: I may ramble on if you type certain key words in the comments field. The catch: even I don’t always know what the key words are. They are unique to each commenter and therefore surprise me every time : )
I am in awe of this, sista. It encapsulates so much whimsy, yearning, dreams, hopes. And the creativity, well, you knocked my socks off with this one.
I bow to you.
Thank you again, T : ) Seems it’s all a part of my end of year thought process. I have X minutes to rail and spew and flail and wring myself out before the new year rings in. So I hafta make it good, see? And plentiful, unfortunately, like the boring uncle at the New Year’s Eve party. Good thing is, in the blogosphere you can just click me off ; )
I hope you were able to retrieve your socks. It’s too cold to be without.
And if your bow is a Namaste kind of thing, then, “Likewise” : )
This is incredible–there’s so much here… “nothing was graspable with the hands, because neither my hands, or those things that I wanted to grasp, were solid things that could connect with one another physically…” the underlying truth underneath all our grasping.
The underlying truth…indeed. You highlighted an essential truth, a main trouble-causer, one of my favorite things to fight the understanding of! I’m pleased you enjoyed this and especially tickled that you returned for another visit : ) I’m working my way toward your entry #7, lucky #7!
Woo-hoo I found a way to read this without going insane about the bottom bar – its still there and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the snow, so I’m confident that when the snow goes away, so will the stupid bar.
I love the pre-waking fantastic hours. Anything can happen really.
You are definitely my home girl, puttin’ up wid my snow and all!
Only comes once a year. Gotta maximize it :-D
Now if you said you’d never come back if I didn’t quit that damnable snow scraping along the bottom of your monitor, well, like with Music Man, I’d gladly stop the snow.
Because you are so right: anything can happen. Anything at all : )
I have three different stories started but can’t seem to finish any. I came by here for a bit of inspiration or just a reason to sit and sip my tea and smile and had my heart squeezed so hard that I still can’t breathe (metaphorically – no need to call the ambulance).
This is what hurts. That I can’t say this. But you said it. We are so many contradictions. We make choices, we have no control. We love, we are totally self-involved. We are connected and at the same time, isolated in our selves. We are joyful sometimes when we are most melancholy. We are fleeting and we are eternal. We are every character we write and every one we are afraid to write still lives on in us, waiting to be written. We long for, yearn for, stretch out our hands for something we can’t define and everything we manage to get our hands on turns out to be a poor substitute and so we keep on. We put it down in words hoping it will be a map or trail of bread crumbs that will help us to know – what?
I don’t know you at all but I love you because I have what is here of you and it is pure and beautiful in a melancholy way. You. did. good.
You’ve been this way for a time now, Dee. Seems you’re pushing through some rock so it may take awhile, but I say it’ll be worth it and you’ll break through dusty but feeling like you’ve got a million bucks-worth of wisdom in your eyes and head and hands.
This would fall on my deaf ears if I heard it from another while in the condition of being stuck or not able to write altogether, but I’ll say what I think anyway: when you get done with the rock (learning what you’re struggling to understand) you’ll write well until the next rock, and so it will go until you get where you’re supposed to go.
Soooo, in between rocks, you might as well loosen your neck, look around and gather up thoughts that come to you and observations you make of people, their actions, the look of places that interest you. That’s what we want to know: what we find ourselves observing and searching for most. Over time, from all of that, we get more and more of a sense of that thing we want to know and better and better at seeing and showing with words what it is we’ve found out about it.
And so far, what I’ve found out is there ain’t no rushing that process. If I was stuck and unable to write, I’d tell me to shut the fuck up. So just do it. I’ll still love you. Speaking of… Look here, another sweetheart of ours, Paschal, come to join our love fest…
rock, mud, swimming through jello, I keep moving and in the moving, it’s like I am trying to wake from a long sleep, figuring out once again, who I am. Back to that place I left when I became we and we became more and years passed and now I write and live in some kind of adolescent fear that there is after all, nothing there left of the I, never was. Teen age angst at over fifty? Mid life crisis? Who the hell knows? Recreating my life from the inside out? Maybe that’s the string you plucked with this piece. I read it three times and all I could think was WTF I’m not irrevocably insane – just going through a few of those changes – “I awoke with the same empty-handed yearning-yet-knowing that I wake with every day.” Thank you for letting me wander through here and soak up the atmosphere even when it slaps me around (and for sticking on a bandaid and patting me on the head)
Ah, excellent! Goin’ through da fire! This is the best news you could know about yourself, no? The Eastern spiritual teachings say something like this: no true understanding can be gotten to without first going through the fire of doubt. Christians say…oh, yeah, you already know, like in Corinthians somewhere… Alright. All that, what I’ve just written down, that’s not considered another head pat is it? ‘Cause I don’ wanna kiss no boo-boos. I wanna kick ass, blow stuff outta the water, tear down walls with sledgehammers… ;-)
yeah that hard ass act is damn good but you let other things slip sometimes ….. not that some ass kicking and hammer slinging isn’t needed as well :)
Uh-oh. Another lover. You in big trouble, girl. And with Padgett on the horizon, what will you do? That day job may hafta go.
…you handsome thing, you just had to strut by and drop one of your magnificent feathers at our feets, eh? Well, good, you’re in time for the latest news: I’m leaving Padgett to Ms. Sidney, gonna just date his fiction. That leaves me free to date your fiction and flirt online with music man (why are all the delicious ones taken???) and love Dee for the cool chick she is.
What a day.
laws professor – didn’t mean it in a creepy way…how can we not love her. She IS the duchess. Course if quitting the day job means she is getting PAID to write, well amen and amen.
Aw, forget him, Dee, he’s just fluffing. Now you’re fluffing with all that duchess stuff. It could be contagious, so I’m gonna end it here with a pffffft! Night, night : )
I was about to grouse a bit about the “to try to make a distance again,” but you clarified marvelously with your couple of inches, certainly about as far as I could ever manage, though truth be told, even inches seem more than I can muster when I’m in the soup. Maybe the inches get mustered once it’s “re-visioning” time, to quote your buddy Mr. Gardner.
In the soup, yeah. Staying out of it, being able to be objective, is one of the hardest things. I’m still trying to work that out. My monkey mind’s jumping and running and chattering, gettin’ its fingers and toes into everything, and it’s fast! My god, it’s fast. It’s like trying to keep track of ten unruly devil-minds at once. Pull one out of the soup, another gets in, pull that one out and two get in… If the soup’s a story, I have to have someone else check it out when I’m done because so far I’m still unable to be completely objective. And 9.999 out of 10, when I’m done with something, I still have no idea if it’s any good. That’s how blinding soup is. Fucking soup! ; ) And sometimes revisions only make things worse. Re-visioning… Who in heck is Mr. Gardner? Buddy? Of mine? Paschal, are you sure you have the right girl? Be a dear and refresh my memory, k?
I think some of that elusive objectivity comes from putting the thing away in the bread box for a while, even if the while is just a small while. My sense is that you tend to work at breakneck speed and then posting pretty soon thereafter. I don’t think that’s the problem in itself (hell, we all know the quality of the pralines you’re slingin’), but it doesn’t give you the time to pull your body parts out of the soup to have enough monkey inches on the stuff. Your year-end reviews are good for that, though I still think you’re a bit hyper-objective at times. One of the great things that happens with my Rimbauds is when they know how good the stuff is that they’re turning in, moving beyond the “really?” when I tell them how awesome X, Y, or Z piece was.
Somewhere in your Empire State sojourn, I could have sworn you referenced John Gardner’s On Writers and Writing. It was he who slipped that hyphen into the re-visioning process.
You got me down about pat, Scorpio man. Dogging and breaknecking and bada bing bada boom. But wait! When am I hyper-objective? Not just the year end reviews? I swear, between you and Walter with his rhythm bidness, pretty soon I’m’onna hafta stop up my ears LALALALALA! Alphabet soup. X’s and Y’s and Z’s the Rimbauds know. Hmph.
On top of that, I don’t recall referencing “On Writers and Writing.” Besides Ann Charters’ short story bible, at ESC we had “What If?” Bernays/Painter. Earlier in life I found Zinsser’s infinitely helpful “On Writing Well”…
OK, well it’s time for my DMAE bitartrate, Vinpocetine, Huperzine-A, L-Phenylalanine, L-Tyrosine, niacin and B-12 cocktail…
Delicious auspicious ferocious and gracious. Not seditious or capricious or injudicious. Just wow. Keep up that cocktail. Sounds like it’s working.
Oh, now see? This is exactly the kind of anno-note that I miss! Thanks so much for stopping by : )
Oh, you are the marvelous span that bridges dreamtime and reality. I love the way you play with its boundaries in this. Trying to cure the concrete of the fantastic, when it never exists in this state. I love this side of you, you are so good at breaking down the most earthly notions of humanity that I was taken aback reading it. Very well done, m’lady!
You’re one all-purpose dude, music man. Not only are you fun to flirt with, you crank out some of the coolest comments ever. And that’s naming just two of your endless good purposes during this lifetime of yours. “Trying to cure the concrete of the fantastic…” is hot. “…breaking down the most earthly notions of humanity…” is hotter. The latter is it. Nothing’s as it seems. Nothing. The possibilities of and around any thought or “thing” are truly infinite : )
The feelings mutual, Alicat. I prefer a little heat with my flirtation ;>) Infinite possibilities exist wholly in your imagination, sister.