Walking Shadow [A Short Story]

You are as close as you will ever be, closer than you can imagine.

. . . . and I could lament as my friend Jeremy had lamented, how fate has nothing to do with what I would like to believe I could imagine it does, without either a fair or foul discourse on methods of discerning right from wrong, as I like to say, right and wrong, good and bad, up and down, left and right, in and out; and all while focussing specifically on whether or not I could understand better what it was I needed to know, as if knowing were at all possible, as even I have said while parading doubt as a higher form of wisdom, yet with a conviction that would scare any really intelligent–read sensitive–person, a conviction for one or another of the ways I imagine I think I must believe that I accept without question that I know when others around me have otherwise to say on the matter at hand, or in hand, concerning my conviction, whichever hand it is I have held out to grasp, to grip, to scratch at, or to take hold of, as I say when I speak off-handedly to those close to me I am most comfortable around, thus speaking inanely as I do when I sometimes talk out of my asshole, as I have known others,many, to do when the guard is down . . . yes, I no longer recognizing in that moment, however long uncounted it is in its passing, that my mouth and my anus share an unbroken connection, making it very difficult for me not to talk shit . . . and all of this or that, as I also like to say, this and that, these or those words, shifting into other diction, more words I use when aiming at targets of meaning, or so I assume when I am walking beside myself as I often do, accompanying me wherever it is I-we go . . . to be me is to be we, I say . . . although what I could call targeting just might be another way of throwing stones, as so many of us love to do when we do throw them, stones in our stares, stones in our grimaces, stones in our words chosen carefully to inflict as much harm as possible . . . stones at memories, at fears, at anxieties, or maybe at guilt, guilt, guilt, all irrespective of whether we live in fragile homes or not . . . and when the glass breaks, as glasses inevitably will fall and shatter, this baby I become again will fall, and all of what I say on this and on that, here or there or anywhere and any when, has been set in place, or in motion, for the way I ask questions is a means of avoiding answering what I no longer have the wind in my lungs to give response to, knowing that responding and answering are not the same things and often appear quite different, are very, very different, almost in the way night is from oranges, or day might be from apples; the apples, Hart, the apples, I say, freshly picked, as I recollect in an orchard I visited one October, as I think I recall having learned to do one late summer when I was still in my teens, me, already a most noble boozer, I could say, yes, a noble boozer among an array of other boozers, more or less noble than I, if I am allowed a moment of trumpeting for myself, as I do not always take the opportunity to do for myself, or is it my selves? I ask, posing as I do in one or another posture of bawdy ribaldry or ribald bawdiness, you do have to take the time to praise if not worship the Goddess Folly,  as I could say after having learned from my friend Erasmus what I am most grateful for having learned, but cannot now for the life of my children recollect how many years ago it was I learned what I had to learn about the most beautiful of all divine protectors of our humanity. . . Hail Folly, full of grace? The Lord must be with you; blessed are you who laugh heartily with Her . . . how else could I express what it is that is closest to my heart, my sense of human feeling if not through laughter, although I do not eschew tears, fear not to shed the tear, I remember laughter and tears in abundance, what was there is there could there be will there be in the way of future laughter and tears, remodeling the living room let loose a torrent of laughs . . . and I recall having laughed as much after my father died as I did cry . . .

I also came to understand one day, how long ago I will not count, that the Self is made up of many selves, yet how many exactly, impossible to gauge; and the I-am-we again is right there inside each of us, as anyone could discern by seeing clearly how all the world is a stage for each of us to play the many parts we play, have played, will play, having performed in one or another play of “All My Yesterdays,” as they would intermittently, these selves, in actuality, lighted fools perpetually to their end, another life lived as when living is all of it different from the thing in itself never the word . . . and I would keep coming back again, without discernible gain on first glance, and I would then attempt to stand under something of a former me lurking in the abyss of recorded time, and how this candle-life-flame wavers, flickers–I see the portrait of Magdalene at her vanity with mirror, skull and lighted candle; she’s at the Met; she’s at the Louvre.

And all that I have learned from friends, and the fictions of them I keep, I collect and rearrange on the mantlepiece I have in my head, as Magdalene her baubles on her vanity table there in my head–and how it is that anyone can disbelieve in eternity having a mind himself is beyond me, and just recently I received many kind words from one or another of these interior shadows moving about as shadows do, as shadows have, as shadows will within me, yet without me responding in a timely manner, as I should have, as I might-have would’ve, but no more than when I say extra words in strings of other words, as these words have always come to me from me in stream after stream, never at a loss as the mighty Hudson will not run dry.

Rivers of words against the rivers of shit we find ourselves in without paddles; and then, I do, as I had been taught by others to do, I asked me as I will again ask me about the masks I wear, especially the ones I wear inside, have worn, will wear, all interiority the landscape passing in periphery during another long journey into yet another undiscovered country . . . I look and I look and I look yet again and again at the road I am on, the trees at fifty-five passing and fading in a blink; and now all seems complete with recall for kindnesses kept, or kindnesses recollected, or those I only sometimes remember without any effort to gather them as I do when I walk beside my own self, absent as I have been known to be in me; back, yes, back into time, a returning absent, I am, as If that were possible, eternal absent from himself, walking back into yet another time, read moment, life, the living, always in the moments, moments of graceful gladness I now believe might be more so than I imagine, or  as I do when I come to accept that all time is one, yes, all of it, one, past, present and future, one, their distinctions merely persistent illusions, and you do understand as I have also discovered that there is no time in the future when you get closer to those you love and have lost . . .

Time like History is an ocean not a river.



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