Dancing in the Dark
Picking Up Pebbles
HERE ON THE BALCONY [From Berlin, in spite of Cynthia Ozick] He stands on the balcony in a far away place, raises his arm before him in a rigid salute to an absent crowd. We are historical, he thinks, but we don't live in history. Yes, there are records of this, but we are not in the records. Ah such complexity! He thinks this is the defining act, the actualization of a central image: that of a man standing on the edge of an abyss pissing into a hard wind. Not a mistake, not an idle gesture, but the assertion of presence. There is unceasing arbitration at work here, he senses that, for he is always going out, always being more than his circumstance, more than the sum. He knows it is absolutely correct to be here. In fact, it is a necessary act. It seems that when others return to the scene of the crime they are there essentially to lament their losses, then the criminal is the victor. But what is the alternative? To cower in one's righteous place, in one's corner of self-pity? A freeing instance here shouts: I am alive! By character and intuition, by inclination too, he always goes towards, not from and not away, always goes towards it. Here in this he has no choice. He knows that as in the old fable, the hero must confront a series of fearsome obstacles, the last and greatest of which is coming home.
DANCING IN THE DARK The problem with this poem is that it needs light to be read. light: daylight candle-light electric light. sun light. One can dance in the dark one can sing in the dark one makes love in the dark but this poem cannot be read in darkness that is perhaps its greatest weakness.
ELSEWHERE I was told not to go there that it was the wrong time of year that the weather would get to me but if I really insisted on going then I should take precautions especially against insect bites because these are often mortal they said it was irresponsible to even contemplate going there but I replied that one always suffers from not suffering enough
FINAL ESCAPE How will it happen the final exitus will it be violent will it hurt or will it be quiet full of silence Will the sordid images that have haunted us be suddenly erased or will they be replayed endlessly replayed in virtual reality Will we fall or will we rise or simply pass through as one goes through an open door to enter a room Perhaps it will be an escape another escape from the little box where it all started among empty skins But this time it will be the final escape from the great cunt of existence and this time without any gurgling Will the stolen sugar be as sweet as the first time and what of the moon tiptoeing on the roof will she smile upon us or remain indifferent Will there be words left to describe what is taking place words and silences or will there be only cries and whispers
ROAD And if I told my story to myself ? It is true that along the rocky story I often stumbled, and when I fell I would get up saying to myself that no one had seen me, and I would continue saying to myself, it was an accident, and I set out again, hobbling along, saying, it's okay, the fall was not a fall, the rocks were not rocks, and even if some bystanders laughed at me, others encouraged me, saying that I had a beautiful story in me, and that I had to tell it, even if to myself.
PICKING UP PEBBLES To write to write one's life is to take a road that leads nowhere and yet parallels the totality of one's existence To write one's life is to evoke a silhouette that of the writer rushing through his past One cannot tell where he is going as he detours diverges deviates but that is why we want to follow him Along the way like a lost traveler he picks up pebbles from the ground and stuffs them in his pockets As he gropes backward he loses himself but we are willing to be disoriented with him willing to be lulled by his vain repetitions Stranded in time with him we lose ourselves in space with him and yet everything holds in place underneath as if pulled by a magnet All that was absent forgotten from his life is now suddenly present again
Copyright © 1996 Raymond Federman