I went to the place where no one else goes and though it was lonely, that is to be expected. What caught me with my pants down was just how cold emptiness is. So cold I couldn’t tell if I was frozen or burnt or if I just didn’t love all the way anymore.
There were echoes so faint that they might have been the laughter of children who didn’t know why, or the cries of the desperate who didn’t know how. There were shadows that disappeared in the light and others that were lost in the dark. There were shadows that were thrown by emptiness.
Prisons with bars are the simplest kind.
At least you know what you are up against
Wars with dead bodies make some kind of sense, at least to themselves.
I promised myself
That if I ever
Make my way out of the place where no one else goes
I will do the one thing that I need to do
We looked at the past – at lamps, rivers, and drawings – and imagined the future they’d bring. We traveled down highways, up mountains, down waves and found ourselves in the place we had once called our home.
We called to the captain, “Change your course! We’re heading for the end of the world!” But he was too drunk, more even than us, and could only hear the sound of himself
We drove to the place where the oysters were poisoned, carrying our most precious cargo, hoping for the worst but fearing the best.
I let my mind go out and play while I took care of some chores. I watched it from the windows, swinging from the trees. I kept myself from running out to help when I saw it stumble and cry. Sometimes you have to hit the dog on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper to get it to learn.
My mind got up and limped away from the place where it fell and got hurt. My chores are more easily performed without that little one getting underfoot. It will come back home when it gets hungry or needs a place to rest.
In 1992, when the statue of Gertrude Stein was installed in Bryant Park it became the first statue of a woman in any of New York City’s parks. It had been 136 since the first statue of a person was unveiled – George Washington in Union Square.
She wrote this short, sweet valentine poem in 1922:
Very fine is my valentine.
Very fine and very mine.
Very mine is my valentine very mine and very fine.
Very fine is my valentine and mine, very fine very mine and mine is my valentine.
It’s best to experience this work straight from the lips of the grand dame herself:
We are helpless in this world.
The years and months slip past
Like a swift stream, which grasps and drags us down.
A hundred pains pursue us, one by one.
Girls, with the wrists clasped round
With Chinese jewels, join hands
And play their youth away.
But time cannot be stopped,
And when their youth is gone
Their jet-black hair – black as fish’s bowels –
Turns white, like a hard frost.
On their sun-browned, glowing faces,
Wrinkles are etched – by whom?
Boys, with their swords at their waists,
Clutching the hunting bow,
Mount their chestnut horses
On saddles linen-spun,
And ride on in their pride.
But is their world eternal?
He pushes back the door
Where a girl sleeps within,
Gropes to her side and lies
Arm on her jewel arm.
But how few are those nights
Before, with stick at waist,
He goes shunned and detested
The old are always so.
We grudge life moving on
But we have no redress.
I would become as those
Firm rocks that see no change.
But I am a man in time
And time must have no stop.