There was a woman. There is always a woman. A beautiful woman.
The life of any man is a burning, then a standing over ashes. Stirring and stirring, with his cane. I was young. And burning.
I was young…
We walked, evenings. This woman and I. For the days were too warm. When the sun went down, and the wind rose, and the moon, we walked. Through the town. Across the lawn, the green lawn of the museum. Behind the museum, where we would make love. We could not pass by, without doing so.
We had been talking. I had been talking, and she had been listening. She listened attentively, but said nothing. There was a sadness about this woman that was no small part of her charm. She was never so sad, or so beautiful, as that evening.
I stopped. And I asked her … if there was something.
She did not answer. But asked me to keep walking. And speaking. Being in the mood for listening, but not speaking.
I continued, for a time. Then paused again.
The woman. In the moonlight, she was so beautiful. Yet … so melancholy.
I asked her again, if there was something.
She shook her head, only.
I wanted so badly for her to speak. To hear her. When you are in love, and young, only, it is a pleasure to listen. When you have forgotten about love, and so grown older, you cannot hear, and will not listen. You will talk a great deal, as before. But you will never again listen.
So I asked again. I took her by the shoulder, and turned her. For I knew there was something. There is always something.
I leaned in.
Then she said, “I am afraid … there is something.”
I listened. Watching her white teeth moving.
“There is something.”
We were walking home. We crossed the lawn, the dark lawn of the museum.
We kept walking.
They won’t bury you.
That’s what they whisper. When they really want to hurt you.
When someone dies, when a kid dies in my town, they don’t bury you, they feed you to the Cemetery Bird. There’s no room for kids in the cemetery. If you’re poor, there’s no room, but if you’re rich, they find a way.
My mom carried him. I walked behind my mom. She walked up to the bird. My dad didn’t even go up. The bird opened up its mouth and my mom dropped my brother in. Then it closed its mouth. That was it.
They didn’t bury him. They won’t bury you.
One morning, I felt cold in a different way. My parents got nervous. The doctor talked to my parents. When they looked at me, I felt like I was on fire. Though I was so cold.
Every day, I try to…
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I am a whale. An old whale. It’s difficult to estimate, age. When you’ve lived so long. But I feel, I’m certain… That I must no longer be young.
We seek something, all of us. I seek. What I dream of finding … is the place. That ultimate place. Where whales, who have grown old, go. Where others, grown old, have gone before me.
The Algaen Sea. The name itself is peace. The Algaen Sea.
It is the best of all waters. Warm. Serene. Full of living and green things. The instant you feel its green waters on your flesh… You’re happy, it’s said. Serene. In an instant. And forever.
The location of this sea. That is the supreme mystery. For the ocean, though we know so many of its rooms, is palatial.
There are murmurs. Clues. But there are only these. Wuurun, an elder whale, told us, The door, between stone and stone. A lattice of waters. Then he left us, singing.
He never returned.
We seek. I seek. I will know my destination only when I reach it. When I feel the waters, the green waters, on my flesh. And I am serene, at last.
Singing the ancient song… I will find it.
The Beautiful Institution
I will swim
to the beautiful institution
by the sea
till poems compose
swim home again
I have a short story and four cartoons in the new issue of Transition, out now.