Tom Sheehan ~ A Scandalous Enchantress

Awed Poem #4 Falling in Love Again, with a Scandalous Enchantress

And so it was, as it came into being, plain and simple, a necessary thing to be done, an oath moving in one’s self at the beginning of resolve, a slow upward presence, a climbing of spirit, so that I saw it coming as if from a field of mist caught out atop the grass, morning young, dew spread and spent under the sun exerting itself anew, and with it all I saw the outcome, how it would come down the line swift as a memory in some far place where I was out of this habit range, this wide place I might have called home grounds but was not solicitous at the time, and memory, as stark as might be at finish of its appearance, would come like that same mist off the grass, at first as conceivable, then as probable, and finally, with a sense of thanksgiving, come whole and moving and it would be her in a final presence in the same place, in my heart – not my mind, in my heart – not behind my eyes where I thought I’d see it again and again, in my heart – not in my hands the way she’d come back at odd moments of the night with a twist and a turn and a sigh, but sleep a dread enemy, sleep an impossibility, sleep that came of wretched evasion and long mourning, and just as always she’d be visible in a new haven, looking at me, her chin in her hand, blue eyes as wide as ever, sending me that continual message, only to have it waylaid by someone other than either one of us, another body in her place, a new touch, a new taste, a woman of thought, a woman possible, perhaps around the corner, perhaps at the next cup of tea, perhaps a pair of eyes I’d know would be her eyes in a second place of her coming, and I’d roll over and hate myself and cry my poor soul to deepest sleep.

Where it all began and might end had come upon me as surprise comes to an alert soul, her illness an unaccustomed turn, a brief concern at first, slight indication of some small piece not working, the way it happens in ordinary door chimes, the least of importance, for the knock would follow and the entrance conducted and the gaiety loosed once more, or then, more thorny, as in a clock where a spring might be caught unawares or a notch filled with debris or gear snagged, and time, by vague minute, would go its way, just an hour, to the end of the month where due would get undone, unfinished, lost, whip’s end.

I’d know my loss more than separation’s art of movement, more than death’s due art.

She had the last words saved up for a delivery meticulous and persuasive: “Do not stop what you are doing; do not chase after me in any hurry; and in all loyalty and bound by this promise, find someone to talk to, to read to, to release to.”

It was command.  It was order.  It was stand-to. 

I brought myself back to a new day where it would begin for me, coming in ordinary way, in a soft hour of evening as the sun tipped its hat goodnight at the kitchen window and across the room in a friend’s house I could see her acknowledging again one of her last days, in that special way she had of salutation, telling me how everybody on God’s hard earth loved her, the patients whose cries she could hug, the nurse orderlies that she trumpeted to all and sundry, how they had come from devastation and nothing to hope for, unto this place of hope, agreeing with her that all should be pain free and exalted in their dignity, even as all those days dwindled into sobs that few heard but her at the door of the room, at the end of the hall, with the last step from the inside of that huge elderly home to the outside, evening at blessing her tired moves, her muscles, her spirit looking for nourishment for the day to follow, for surely repetition was the sin there.

I knew how it would happen.

It began for me, across a room in that friend’s home where people mixed in merriment and talk of another loss and celebration, babble and groundswell moving in slight waves keeping all corners alive not with the same words but with the same intents … the look, the approach, the answer, the assent without a sound, agreement working up the fields of the bodies in the large room, in the field of my body, that new pair of eyes saying all the things I might want to hear, putting aside judgments and comparisons, putting far aside the cause of the initial attraction, because her eyes were running with the words I could not hear but understood, like semaphores at lips of aircraft carriers advise and do declare home position and their acceptance to a pilot winging his way home, out of gas, praying for the lap of safety, the parts all together for maybe the last time in this life.

Later, the stub of afternoon coming spent, the one with the announcing eyes would point out the window to three neighborhood children playing on a lawn of a neat house whose red bricks had taken on dusk’s red hue the sun shares on days in later summer, at whose hedges were trimmed by barbers with comb and scissors, and whose windows must have been dressed by a quaint old lady caught up in a pairing of colors.

This stranger for a valid moment, who had come from across the room at the beginning of her place in all of this, with her own loss, stared at the children, a light falling across her face, across the lenses of her eyes in the way those children ought to be seen, from a choice part of the inner eye, a roll call brought to bear with their histories coming on, the schools of their growing years assembled piecemeal in a new fiction as if they were now promised, or had been promised long before these new parents had arrived on the scene to make their wishes, to say their prayers, to offer their thanksgivings.

Her voice had a mysterious quality in it. “Let’s make them be ours.” She said it with soft passion, with an eye on their clocks, with solemn promise, as if it had already happened, that mini-adoption, that quick attachment. “Let’s watch them whenever we can, obliged as we would be, enjoy their goodness ahead, their coming small sadness, see them leap up and onward, and hold them as we ought in the silence of our hearts, as if they’re ours. That is the most of love I can muster.”

The words that followed might have been spoken before, by her of the past.

“Let’s be in love again, each of us, with all possibilities for as long as we can.” She took my hand and held it close and in another moment I knew she’d move my hand upon the promise.

The nights would say our names and it would be enough to hear the softest syllables.

And so the way it was supposed to happen, it did, love advancing the soul’s inner light, the mass of it coming at once, at first an illusion so beautiful it had been so unimagined, and then, after my wanton sleep was beset and circulated with toss and turn, and with a side glance at once leaving a mark in my memory, she moved from the covey of her own shadow into the scan of my horizon, and remains yet in that one spot, that totally owned place by herself, a grace emanating from that aura unseen as in music but tempo plus the unbidden language coming along with it, the rhythm of a woman who moves with ease into the depth of a man where she assimilates, absorbs, animates by motions so subtle to this day they still overpower me. 

She moved like the appreciation of a mountain’s morning hovering over a lake, a mist slow in ascension to translate into an unseen level allowing iridescence of innumerable growths to appear in a painting my eyes said existed solely for my vision, at the moment no other person seeing what I was seeing; and its climbing into a nothing that existed for my wonder and awe, became the other side of the lake, she in one image I had put away for all time as that one image to salvage me from despair and loss so unequivocal it promised no future to my natural hunger and need; knowing from inception she was a dream come alive for me, this woman, a mere mist at first, coming alive, a smile wide as horizons, coming alive, a voice saying she was real, coming alive, its meticulous tone so full of clarity it struck me with lightning delivery, first word coming alive my name, the very first sound saying she was thinking of me and beset with the energies and want that had littered my days and nights steady as cast-off memories shunted aside but never letting go, the other truths hanging on, past dear life.

My name came softly in the night, in the truth of darkness, on the breath of one woman moving the way only a woman moves, a languorous length of her, a gloried broadness, a hip salutation as much signature as identification, into my mind before all else, into the spirit sitting there alone and waiting for the word, the gesture, the hand sending its touch on a linen full of sound but so silken and smooth it was as if my name came carried there first, the manner of the passage as much invitation as any invitation might be broadcast from soul to soul, the call heard and the reply sent outward, the elegant length of her reduced, brought closer, a loop in its coming, a grasp, a homing brought to bear my all, an ascension of will silent at first but then pounding in my heart, and then to my mind where it evolved as the transfer of love more monumental yet existing in that languorous depth beneath me in a grip only her kind owned.

I said her name, and it rose pious, devout, though of a second nature, an element about in the night like an unseen feather on unseen air but letting off the whispered sound, a whisper of such promise and continuity it came from soul salvage, from mere dreaming, from harnessed energy, of ultimate connections of essence and turmoil mixing with the grander ingredients where imagination alone is king, guidepost, whip soft as bee flight, as positive, her grasp essential.

Then, in brevity of concern, of conscience, I heard her voice as from the far end of a tunnel, or the top of a mountain so distant it was out of sight, soft syllables advancing on me the way balm dissolves worry and fright, the way it descends on the ache in a spirit.

It was necessary now, I thought, the time arrived for this to happen, and I moved in a ways and looked behind me and saw how far I had come in my loneliness, in this short time, and it was bigger than an ache, and it moved upon me as slow as I thought about myself and then her, and there was silence which I could not comprehend, which made me think of being a distant star looking back here, seeing myself less than I was, knowing the difference,  knowing nothing of time, only of manner — how it happened, not why, not where, but knowing the form of it.


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