Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ghost Music (2004)

Fascinating but fatal is the Leanhaun
Shee, the "fairy mistress" who is so
hauntingly beautiful that men cannot
fail to fall in love with her. If a man
should meet her, then through his love
for her he is inspired with the power
of the bardic arts. However, she is
a malevolent muse, for through loving
her the Gaelic poets die young. She
is restless and will not let them
practice their art long on earth.

-- Nigel Pennick, Celtic Sacred Landscapes

Driving home last night after the gym
it was raining slow and steadily, summer's
pulse of that cerulean certainty which
cauls every day in sun then storm.
I popped in an old CD, Everything But
The Girl's Walking Wounded (1996), and
settled into techno-dance mixes of love
songs which somehow caught the far
rumble of thunder and held it there
in moisture and abandon of storm.
But most strongly it made me
recall the taste of bad Scotch in
secret places, illicitly honeyed,
infernally wronged-Clan MacGregor, I
think, $16.99 a half gallon, cheap
enough to drink the way I desired.
The glow of that booze settled on
an awful season, just after I got
married the second time, when I
gave myself permission to get lost
in the bottle again. So much
of that drive home yesterday had
the same familiars: job and gym
done, mind and body relaxing from
that toil, the long miles home opening
like petals, though then it was a
darker, opiate bloom I desired, not
the flush of fresh love, deciding
back then to give in to a falling man's
gradient of deceit and loss, down
and out whatever drain I'd find.
That when my new wife waited for
me happy in our new home -- the
same as this one, only younger --
glad for me to be a part of it,
kissing me when I got home and
then working upstairs arranging
furniture or making the bed
this linen-fresh, bright white
arrangement. Downstairs I made
dinner working on my "cooking
Scotch," refilling my glass again
and again from the bottle under
the counter, or sniping swigs
from the other bottle stashed in
the closet. And that music played
on the stereo, the late summer
afternoon mixing into it a sere
gloom, at least the way I perceived
things descending down the buzz
of too much bad Scotch. The
sureness of the descent was
somehow made delightful by
the flightiness of my deceit,
perhaps as every deal with the
devil is forged. I cooked our
dinner in a filling cloud
and praised our love when my new
wife came downstairs to eat,
too affirming, overloud, yes, but
nothing -- not yet -- that my wife
would take notice of. Little did
she know I was stealing her
happiness, draught by draught
from that cheap green bottle.
There was not poetry those days,
only dark love and ever guiltier
arrears in the motions of a man
of the suburbs. (The poetry began
further down, whether to praise
or redeem my blackening wings,
I'll never know, though that writing
has led me here. I listened to that sad
music yesterday and wondered why I
would want to bugger love so and good,
choosing instead to pursue the secret
thrills balmed by that booze. Perhaps
it was just the toll of an ex-drinker
turned gentlemanly spelunker, my
ravel back down to the thickest
Scotch-amber below. Perhaps too I'd
chosen the false god of fast fucks, that
zero half of my moral circuitry (always
suspect), taking what was mine when
I couldn't get her to agree to fall my way.
Somehow -- thank God -- I found the
plug for that jug. I ravelled back home
and remained, choosing to love the
difficult and the real. The permanent
and legitimate. The spirit not found
in bottles, or between any bad woman's
great thighs. Why did I want to hear
that music which rises the gorge of
my awfullest times? Certainly not
to indulge a dark thought of returns.
(I pray.) Perhaps because it's becoming
safe enough to look back on those days
with no desire for them. Humbling move,
the awfulness this ink can only
rib and echo, the malevolent muse
of every ebb and recede, her charms
sufficient only when the hole in me's
indulged, making comfort instead
of truth the drink of the day -- Perhaps.
But I also heard in those songs a
mere terrible sway which I could no
better resist than say here just what
made such dreariness also dear.
And so I listened to a song or two
as I drove my way home, a man
minted of motions counterclockwise
to those screws, looking forward
to this rain in our garden as I cook
up a meal -- kisses surficial and
a clear deep dark blue, that half
of the tide now married to you.


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