Sunday, April 20, 2014
It's Cold Again, And That's That
My bed is a canvas. I come to on it every morning like a boxer hearing eight.
He told me while he was dying that he remembered going down three flights of stairs to shovel coal into a furnace if they wanted heat. He laughed in his way and asked no one, "Who doesn't want heat?" Later they moved to a ticky tacky box in the boonies where the train finally gave up, and there was this magic dial on the wall and the house got warm if you simply turned it. He never got over it, the marvel of it. He almost died with it, that wonder, on his lips.
It's gone, all that. I don't know whether I lost it or it was taken from me, but what difference would that make? It's cold again, and that's that. Unnumbered years ago our little faces barely poked up above the plateau of the battered kitchen table while our milk turned our ration of flakes to paste, mom resolutely ironing his breastplate before he went Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. There was no way we could know that to the man at the end of the table, born into a landscape so bleak I can hardly understand it, we were his offering, a sign of hope; and now you can't help but chew the bitter cud of doubt that his hope was misplaced. You've done so little with it. Barely managed to produce a batch of hope for yourself. You pray that hope, by its very nature, cannot be misplaced.
I don't care about the dimming of my eyes and the ringing in my ears; the stabbing pain like a rebuke, the residue of blows unseen and unprovoked; the passing of the seasons like palings in a picket fence as you drive down the street. I just don't want the referee to count ten before I prove he wasn't a fool to hope after all.