Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Twenty-Four: Spectres

I do remember a young friend in Montreal, walking the streets near McGill late at night, looking at her reflection in storefront glass and asking herself who that girl was, and what story she was from. She'd walk up rue Sherbrooke late, late at night and wonder whatever would become of the girl in the glass.

Not a thought about her future, no. Another kind of thought altogether. She was asking how long reflections last, and whether they live on inside the glass. Every time we look up at the night sky, we're looking back into deep time. That's something that's part of introductory lectures in Astronomy 101 everywhere. There's nothing down here to slow the light, though. Not distance, not resistance inside what was once called the luminiferous aether. Whatever's in the mirror vanished in an instant. Look and walk on, and the world in the mirror evaporates...and the girl in the glass does, too.

There's a last time to be with a lover, a last time to have a lover in one's arms. Figures slip out the door or board the airliner and they're gone. Every affair is ephemeral, every parting is far too likely to be a last one. We know those things. Waiting for a lover at an arrival gate, walking into a room and seeing her--- those are just the pattern for their reverse.

Every kiss can be a last kiss. And every last kiss of an affair can be the last kiss ever. One morning you'll wake up in a lover's arms and, all unknowing, that'll be the last morning of a love affair. One morning you'll wake up in a lover's arms and, all unknowing, that'll be the last time you'll ever be with any lover. One night you'll kiss someone and that'll be the last time you ever kiss anyone.

Sophocles at eighty is supposed to have thanked the gods for releasing him from Lust, the cruelest of masters. I could never do that.

I do watch the reflections as I pass storefronts and watch them distort and disappear. They disappear, and that's a way of counting down to that last kiss, that last lovemaking, counting down to a time when you walk along the streets and pass in utter solitude, with nothing at all in the glass.

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