Hold On, I’m Getting At Something

The backer copies of Asteroid Made of Dragons have all shipped and the wave is crashing down on the East Coast. By tonight – tomorrow maybe – they will have all arrived. My Facebook profile is awash with pictures – pictures of my friends with their copy, the copy they bought a year ago because I asked them to. Some have one, some have three, or five, or more. A gesture of love, of confidence, of faith and it wrecks me.

Writing is lonely. Being a human is lonely.

I don’t do well with moments of connection. Socially, sure. Joking, sure. But a real moment? Something important and true? Not my scene. We’re so unstable, the most unsuitable of symbols. How can I know the things I say are being received in the moment, in the blur of memory and sense and thinking of the next thing to say while half-hearing what you are saying now while also feeling the echoes of other versions of this conversation from before and beyond  on TV, in dreams, from splinter-blinks of fragmented now? I mean, how? Maybe it’s just me.

Being lonely is writing. A human is.

Hold On, I’m Getting At Something. This should be my coat of arms. I’ve written three books now (THREE!), and thousands of other words off in the Grand Margins.  And all in the service of this dimly perceived quest of discovery of meaning – of this THING I’m trying to say, but cannot express. Only glimpse the edges of as I travel forward and back in time. It’s hard to connect with humans – but with words, you have a puncher’s chance. This word connects to that, shapes form. Things stay where you put them. Mostly. Rime is Rime and Jonas is Jonas and Xenon loves graham crackers and Linus snores just a little bit. Now, on my desk is a red ball, the color of summer sunset and it is red, red, red. And it will stay red as long as I believe that it is red.

A lonely human is writing. Being.

So now – I see these pictures, I see these signs of love and faith. And all I can say is – do you see the ball on my desk? Is it red? Is it summer sunset or is it more of a cranberry? Why are you listening? Why are you picking up the signal? Why are you dreaming with me of the three moons that have no name and the Lost and the stupid, stupid power of friendship that keeps the dark at bay?

Being human is writing lonely.

Ah, the simple words. I’ve already said them – but they don’t land right. Thank you. Thank you. You thank, you are thanks. Thanks You. A tic, a nod, a thing we say to strangers and waiters and cats when they heed. An empty thing, not enough, a hollow gourd. A blob of ink at the end of emails and yammering sales pitches. Useless, sere, not enough. I pick up the pieces and slam them together, that’s all that I am, all that I do – all that I can do. With whatever art I have I try to say the Thing.

Lonely is being. Human is writing.

Thank you. You thank. You are thanks. Thanks are you.

Lonely human thanks you. You are writing.

Writing is you.

You are thank.

The ball is red and it is not so lonely. Thank you for coming so far with me.

 

Straydog Papers I

When I was a child, I lived by a creek. That was the first time I saw them.

My home was surrounded by trees, so they were difficult to spot at first. They seemed tall and thin, swaying just like the pines in the wind – but opposite to the breeze. The Five.

I was eleven. I was standing on the porch. There was no rail yet, that was built later. The Five walked through the trees and knelt at the base of the stairs. I stood at the top and blinked. They were almost there, but not quite. Sliding out of view – shifting between eye-blinks. Here, there – never quite complete – hands shifting, the drape of cloaks different, eyes red now black. Not as tall as I’d first thought, at least not all of them.

They were all different. They were all of a kind.

The Five stared at me and I said nothing. I held my breath. They seemed to have no leader, but at last one of them spoke.

“We have traveled far and have no home, young sir.”

This one was gaunt and sharp, like a briar thorn. Courtesy demands the same, at least in the earth where I was grown, so I bowed and asked if I could get he and his companions some water or food.

“No water. No food. Our kind has no need for such things, but thank you for the offering. No, we come to ask of you a different thing. We have no home, young sir. We come to ask if we can live in you.”

The others all shivered at his words, but not from the wind. I answered quite politely that my home was full – my mother, father, and brother. We had no room for five more guests.

The thorn ran a thumb across his chin, to banish a smile. His teeth were green, I remember.

“Not a home of wood and steel, not a roof of woe and weal. Your family will never know we share your roof, young sir. We ask to live in your heart, not in your spare room.”

And then I was afraid. These were wolves at my feet.  I took two steps, grasping for the brass handle of our front door.

Another of the Five spoke. She was dressed in white. She was beautiful and empty as the moon.

“We shall not harm you if you refuse. We are bound by the laws of the City, even as you will be.”

“We have ridden far, far from the gates and we are tired. Let us rest here, let us live in your heart.”

I was still afraid. I was afraid and sick to my stomach. But I was also eleven. So I asked. I asked why? Why should I let them live in my heart?

The woman dressed in white began to speak, but the thorn stopped her. He spoke, his eyes in mine.

“Because. Because it is the perfect home for us. You will see and know and your heart will beat all the wiser, will ache all the sweeter. You will hear the music. You will walk the secret roads. And, in time, you too will ride back with us to the City.”

The thorn’s words were honey and the Five knelt at my feet and I was alone and afraid and eleven eleven eleven.

I asked one more question.