Venus Setting

Last night I went to take out the garbage. It was seven-thirty, and still not dark. The south-western sky was aqua and peach, a conversation for clarinet and solo voice, sweet, soft, and penetrating. I can’t see very many stars these days, and even for the brightest ones I can only catch them out of the corner of my eye. If I really want to see anything I have to look away from it, kind of like you do when you’re bird-watching and don’t want the bird to know you’re looking at it. Venus swam there in the pastel wash of light, slipping away over the shoulder of the world as it turned into darkness.

The pain and sweetness in equal part were overwhelming. I want a life where I can look at Venus head-on and see it, where I can watch the summer stars wheel, Cassiopeia and Andromeda, Perseus and the great wing of Pegasus, the ruby eye of the Scorpion. I want to light a fire beside the lake, lie on the sand, hear a loon and oh my, an owl. I want to sleep by the creek rushing down to the lake with its thousand icy voices.

I don’t dare to long for the things I long for. But I’m afraid that if I don’t, at least sometimes, cry out for freedom and push my poor atrophied wings against the bars, my heart might turn to a black stone, a black hole, an inrush of fury, a ‘no’ that would be very hard to take back.

The trouble with falling is that there’s no end to it, no point at which one hits the ground, feels for broken bones, or, more fortunate, is obliterated by the impact. The fall is forever, a fractal infinity of falling and the scary part is, once you were really falling you might not let yourself know it, carry on making tea, chatting on the phone, a brittle simulacrum, a narrative that you hold to make life manageable for your friends.

These are dangerous waters.


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