Monday, April 09, 2007

My Dear Beloved Anna.

My Dear Beloved Anna,

I spent this day wandering among ancient sculptures in a museum. I stood and stared into the pupil-less eyes and patrician nose of some nameless citizen of the Roman Empire and knew that he had paid his money to arrange just this, that he had wanted for me to stand here and think of him eighteen hundred years after his death. Immortality is our only dream, our sole endeavor. But he failed, Anna. That man is dead and I stared at marble today. Nothing lives behind dumb lips and expressionless eyes. Nothing lasts but the words we make and whisper on into the ears of future generations.

I wanted to whisper that you exist. I thought that it should be forever known that your shoulders curved just so and that your smile slipped into me so that hours later I stood in an empty street and laughed at nothing. I never did do it. I never did write those eternal lines. Have you read Ulysses yet? A blind man who tapped down a Dublin street, a pompous medical student who wrote bawdy doggerel, a couple of giggling barmaids shall all live. But I could never get past myself long enough to ensure that thy eternal summer shall not fade. All I ever did was to carve your image into marble with my sentimental idealism. I forgot that I loved Anna and wrote only that I loved and I nearly condemned you to life as one of those smooth-faced, interchangeable Roman ladies with high foreheads and low cheek-bones, staring forever into nothing (from nothing). And you always knew how I betrayed you. But I urged you to write, didn't I? I did that for you, wanted you to make something, too. And now you say that you have.

What have you, my love? An innocent gaze to watch you, a blank mind on which your image was the first to be emblazoned, a face, perhaps, to bear your beauty another generation into the future (for god knows this mad poet never could write the beauty of your eyes). But beware my Anna. Those innocent eyes do not see you, they do not even look for you. When, long after your death she too lies dying, do you think that she, like I, will cry out your name? She may whisper "mother" but she will not be calling to you but only to the soft, steadily beating warmth she felt once, nestled against your breast, to the gift of life you gave her but cannot give her again.

What is a mother, Anna? What is mine or your own? A guarded look, a sharp warning, arms that embrace you to take away the sting of the slap that they gave and then, suddenly, that great distance that will forever more separate you from your origin. Do you still weep for your Mother, Anna? I weep for the darkness from which I came. And she, who held me against her to shield me from it, claiming that I came from her, that I was hers, she is dead, now. And even then I regarded her with distrust. This child is not yours Anna. She is another. Remember what I taught you and teach it to her. She took words from your lips. I beg you, tell her what they are and do not forget yourself.

Thine Always