|Studio Still-life, Sarah Myers. 2020.|
Well, Loneliness, here you are again.
You refuse to enjoy the morning sunlight with me
Or help me to mix up the paint.
Instead you tell me all the bleak memories we share,
All the time you knew me so well,
All those hours you had your arms wrapped around me
And clung to me, as melancholy
As a rat in the rain.
I can't tell you to go away. Why not?
Not out of pity, certainly, you're no happier with me
Than without me, sitting on the hill,
Sniffling instead of singing, Loneliness.
No, because of circumstance only.
I can't shake myself, and put on a face,
And go see the rest of the world
And leave you alone by yourself, Loneliness.
Outside, the quail whistles in the long grass.
The wild green grows like a disreputable botanical garden
Full of jungle specimens with dangling berries
And spiky thistles.
The little dog dozes, whiskers spread
On the brown carpet, as if some morning magnetism
Between fur and floor
Keeps her sound asleep.
Listen, Loneliness, this time my life is different than it was.
This time you're no more here
Than a thousand, million others of real souls
Who sit the same way I do, in the quiet.
These I invite, even as I bow you out.
Look, friends, here
Is the slant of sunlight from an open sky,
Coursing across a shuffle of winged papers.
But covered with pencil lines,
Faces that look at yours, and waving arms,
Arches and lines, notes from a future
Sketched in a most primitive way, as if
Someone was one step away
From charcoaling them on the walls of a cave
With a burnt-out torch.
Over here is a raucous crowd of paint tubes,
Caged in a gracious fruit-basket of silver wire.
Here are the eyes of a line of canvases, staring
In bewilderment at their own chaotic colors.
They aren't alone, a whole party of them
Clamors for us
To put on our brightest clothes, put on jewels,
Hats, wreaths of flowers,
Pose elegantly before the broken mirror,
Hear the silence and the music
Of a year gone down a road none knew,
Not even those
Who found Loneliness beside them every moment,
Spreading dust in the food,
Blurring the outlines of the world
Like rain distorting light beyond the glass.
In this silence I hear the solitude, but not the loneliness.
A burden rolls along, a planet like the rock
That Sisyphus trundled up the slope in Hades.
We slip aside, like sparrows, out of the way,
Fluttering and trembling.
But this I say, both to my friends
And to the ghost of Loneliness with its muttering and threatening.
We have more courage, we who dare the quiet,
Than those who shriek and run from it, gathering, grinning and boasting
That nothing can change them, that they cannot die
Because they would rather die, and see others die,
Than face this empty light, this warm silence.
Far less courage we have, perhaps, than those
Who armor themselves with kindness and good
And stand between the wreck of life
And the shadow that comes with an in-drawn breath.
But all the same, friends, invite me in
Instead of the Loneliness that left by my window
A moment ago, shredding away in the sunlight.
If we cannot sing, at least we will whisper.
There is a way, and a place,
Made of many ways and all places.
Perhaps it takes solitude to find
The faces of friends where we saw
Only Loneliness and the sunlight of summer.