Caigamos Abajo

Caigamos Abajo - A Forgetting PDF Chapbook - 495K

Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked bey voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.
The detail of the pattern is movement,
As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.

- T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, Four Quartets

He sits in the dark room, elbows on his knees, head hanging down, defeated.

She laughs through a thousand mouths at him, leans back a thousand times, legs spreading apart for him, just for him,
again and again.

Come on, she whispers. Come on. Come on. Come on.

He looks into her eyes and sees a thousand faces.

Remember, she says, the next moment will always be better than the last.

She opens for him again. He rises and enters.

Mexico. One summer night, he wakes up to her burning beside him. Traces the shape of bone beneath her skin. The sheets are full of the moonlight. Slowly, he slides the light off of her.

She sighs in a dream, turns and pulls his arm over her.
In the morning, she is gone forever.

Jesus, he thinks, what a word: forever.

Not eternal, which is outside of time. But forever, time without end. Duration being sliced into intervals, vast accumulations of memory. Never ending. She is gone forever. And every moment after adds a new memory of desolation and anguish and despair over her absence.

He guards every memory of her. Careful not to hold any for too long, concerned that it will be shaped by the present. Like rough stones polished translucent in a tumbler. There is a place in his mind, an old house with no doors or windows, broken shutters swinging, crosses made of birch and twine hanging above a bed of dust. There in a room he has arranged all of his memories of her.

In cloudy jars and faded boxes, between the pages of unread books and sealed inside of unsent letters, he has remembered her completely. And still, of course, it does not even approach the essence of what she was.

The skull of a dog. A dog that used to sit on his lap as he read. A dog that broke his heart when it died from neglect. She knew where they had thrown the dog’s body and retrieved the skull
for him. She gave it to him as a present.

A present. A box wrapped up in ribbons and bows. A skull inside the present. The present was a skull. Is a skull.

And right now, in this present moment, he has nothing he values more than the skull of a dog. The memory of her gift. 

This one polished bright.

Photographs are beautiful, but betray. Kill the essence of the object captured. He hates all photographs of himself.
Burns or rips to shreds all that he can find. But the few he has of her, he can not destroy. One from high up in the bell tower of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. She is laughing, turning away from him. Hair spinning out. In the next moment, she would tell him. Tell him everything. After that, it was all different.

Another from the Lake. She is sitting out on the pier, her back to him, her head turned to watch the sun setting. The water is black while the sky is fiery red. He imagines her thinking about a different thing every time he looks at it.

Manolo shuffles over and sets a new bottle of tequila on the table in front of him. Says: Caigamos abajo.

A year ago, she was sitting in the chair across from him. They were laughing at nothing, at everything. And what she said later comes to him now: That was the best time I have ever had that I can’t remember.

He invites Manolo to sit and fills the glasses. Gracias, amigo. Si. Caigamos abajo.

That night he found her, the Desert was blue with stars. She wandered into the courtyard, trembling and full of
tears. First words to him: I was raped out there. Who? And she stopped crying and looked at him so intensely that he
looked down in shame.

He wishes to this day that he could have held that. Maybe have known then.

He took her in. She held on to him all night, so tight that his arms were bruised.

In the morning, she was gone. The first time. He smiles to consider that. Sand in the bed and the shape of her hand blue on his skin.

He imagines this timeless sphere of ecstasy. A fragile shimmering bubble. But endless in duration. Outside of time. It
cannot be called an instant or a moment. But it is lodged within the memory – to such an extent that even the remembering of it dissolves the edges of time. But this memory corrupts. Every time-bound moment is polluted with the possibility of not-being-enough. A little more, a little less, not quite it, too much. Waiting for the next instant to unfold into the timeless possibilities of the eternal present. She is time. And she binds him down with desire. Seduces him to believe that it will all be there again in the next moment. He happily sacrifices his
most sacred memories on an altar of the future. For her.

Three lines carved over glyphs outside an ancient temple: 

Where are you?
I waited.
I’m going alone.

He wonders mostly about the “you” coming upon them later, knowing why he wasn’t there when he should have been.

Hand against the stone, tracing the pain in the shift of tense from “are” to “waited”.

Their entire history in that.

And then “alone”.

For maybe the millionth time, he wonders where she is.

She said once at the beginning of the end: I wish I would’ve known.

And he replied: How could we have ever known?

Known and not known, she told him. Like looking in a window of your own home, seeing that world in there and imagining how good it would be living that life, but never going in. Knowing the fullness of desire but with the freedom to never experience it.

He suddenly saw himself sitting inside the home. Stupid and happy for a brief moment and then, with shock, turning to the window. Fog of breath fading upon the glass.

Down and out in Rome. Ending up on the Spanish Steps. Tired of walking. Of carrying the heavy pack. Dreaming of poets drowning in their own blood.

She was dancing in the fountain, sleeping against his side, asking how much longer.

The man playing the guitar finally surrenders. Another comes along to sweep the steps.

He rises. Starts the long walk to the station.

Exhausted of memory, empty of desire.

Up in the morning
up and on the ride
I drive in to corning
and all the spindles whine
and ever day is getting straighter
Time’s the revelator
Leaving the valley
and fucking out of sight
I’ll go back to Cali
where I can sleep out every night
and watch the waves and move the fader
Queen of fakes and imitators
Time’s the revelator

- Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)

September 2004