Saturday, March 17, 2007

the longing road

H.C. Pipkin, Pictorial, October 7, 1947

for s.

I turn onto that highway again, the one that I drove in the dark and in the rain, though my eyes were unable to make out much more than the white stripes of the shoulder, beneath the black pressing sky. You were at the end of that road, and even now, when my tires touch that highway knots form in my stomach. I gasp.

There are other roads, hundreds of unmarked, unkept ones that wind away from my heart to remote places, the dead ends, where there is nothing, only the wind. Sometimes it feels like I am dying inside because that sound is so far away--here there are cars and sirens and music, but not the wide-sky deafening drone of a Norther. Where I was most empty, I was also most complete.

Rifling through my grandfather’s and great grandfather’s negatives I am struck by the resonance between us. I see what they saw as sublime--the twisted cedar by a dry creek in the canyon, an expanse of grassland top-heavy with an approaching storm.

I am struck, too, by the inadequacies we share--to love language and light and image more than understanding and compassion and hope. The reflection more than the reality.

I once went to Mexico to search for a friend. I carried a tear-stained post card in my hand with what remained of an address--after days of dead ends, I was finally pointed to a heavy wooden door. Where there would have been a handle there was only a hole, through which I peered to behold that the door was tied to what seemed an endless procession of empty tequila bottles that would all crash and shatter if I dared open the door.

These are the traps we lay for those that we love, those that most long to find us.