Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LOVE BREATHS


Sometimes,
not often
enough,
but sometimes
I can hear
a pure distillation
of love--pauses,
hesitations,
puffs of breath
(when speech
is another form
of agony)
--coming through
my phone
at work.
I'd be speaking
to one half
of a couple
whose other half
has horrendous problems:
a stroke has left them paralyzed
on one or both sides, aphasic;
or ALS is shutting down all their systems
(and will slowly, slowly, suffocate them);
heart disease, COPD, dementia
in all its permutations, lost, bewildered,
becoming aged
children needing
a young mother
a spirited father,
but the partner
is old, too,
or has to work
or has other children
to raise.
Each life
a nightmare
of varying proportions;
each looking
for a solution
which doesn't involve
giving up
and shelving,
warehousing,
their other
half.
After doing this for awhile
there's a build-up
of callus that occurs
inside your ear
& in your heart
to life's calamities
except your own.
You have enough
of your own shit
to think of: your boss
only wants you to make
the next call,
the next sale,
and you know
the rent
is right
around the corner.

But every once in awhile
you hear a purer love,
a refusal to give in
to sickness, mess,
the loss of identity,
and sometimes
it happens
to the young, those under
sixty, those whose lives
are not supposed to go,
but do: wasting away
from a rogue gene, becoming
sightless and mute,
no longer able to hold a spoon
or a piece of toilet paper.
Life,
in all its indignities.
And I hear that,
that courage,
that determination,
that unwillingness
to have anything to do
with reality,
and it gets inside me,
wiggles around,
unclogs these cynical neurons,
bloodstream, veins and arteries,
pumps my heart with blood
and bucks up what is admittedly
a weak and cowardly backbone.

It takes some fucking courage
for one to do that
for another--
no matter who the fuck it is.
We call it "love"
but it's not really.
It's something that defies words
& precedes speech.
And it's something
that most of us
will never have to do...
or want to do.

Nothing frightens me
as much
as the human
race.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

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