Waiting For This Day to End

25 Nov 2018 - Stanford, CA - 18:00

“And language just happened, it was never planned;
And it’s inadequate to describe where I am:
In the room of my house, where the light’s never been,
Waiting for this day to end…”

I’ll put an epigraph where a pen ought to be, and it’ll all be alright. I live in sincere genuflection, a kneel in pooling light to whirling, vortical forces just barely out of view; and such and such always manages to smooth the routine malaise of the typical reader. Take your time; make it easy; maybe sometimes.

But of my work, I’ll say nothing, for there is nothing to say; and of my work, I’ll say nothing, for there is nothing to say. What could there be? All to be found is already found. We all know it, too: the freezing mornings when lightless taxis leave you to walk home alone, the loneliness of feeling half-past dead walking into Nazareth, un chien andalusia, and une anée sans lumière. What more can there be, besides these terse quakes pushed through others’ spirits out of our own?

Nothing. And so, I stay silent. I sit on my bed, gaze up at the raucous clock, and wait for this day to end.

“The night they drove old Dixie down,
And all the bells were ringin’;
The night they drove old Dixie down,
And all the people were singin’; they went,
La la, na-na na-na-na-nah:
La-la-na-na, na-na-na-nah…”

Soon after Chester Bennington died, I reflected on the fact that you could put the end of a belt between a dorm door and the frame, and it would hang limply, and would not fall: a comforting constancy for some, an unsettling devil under the bed for me, one that would never arise again, but which seemed to haunt the phantasmic space curving around the brown edges of the door.

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a song by The Band. It’s sung from the perspective of Virgil Caine, a civil war railway worker, who becomes a farmer after George Stoneman’s Union army destroys the Confederate supply lines. Virgil laments the dismantling of his beloved home country fields, the death of his brother, and the failure of a cause he refuses to fully relinquish. On that night, at the close of the war, as the church bells rang in the orange glow of lanterns out on the the horizon, all Virgil heard was the mourning of the south and, unbeknownst to him, the victory of the freed slave; la, nah na-na na-na-na-nah. Does Virgil know about the glory of emancipation? Can he hear the bells of celebration?

Amidst blindness, he may never know. And so, as railroads are reassembled, he and his kin continue to toil under an evil so great some may never see it.

“Tears of rage, tears of grief;
Why must I always be the thief?
Come to me now, you know we’re so alone –
And life is brief…”

And now, the heart is filled with gold, as if it was a purse. We are raised by the great Mother Mary, who came to Anselm Kiefer at age 6 with a visage like a painting. She never appeared to me. At age 8, through the haze of misty willow trees drooping in the afternoon air, I saw a ghostly face breathing, blinking. It filled my heart, and I felt my veins freezing into statuette veins that would thaw in the heat of a summer night where I would boil, stutter, and die alongside the beautiful, benevolent Mary.

Mother Mary will surely come to me tomorrow. It is our destiny. She will come to Virgil as well, as pure a spirit as I can think of. Virgil, that infinite symbol of beauty. His system is as incommensurable as any other. His values are clear. He swears, by the mud beneath his feet, that a Caine will fight to the death.

The sun has come out from behind the clouds, and light has arrived upon the window beside my bed. La la, nah-nah nah-nah-nah-nah. I sing to the tune of the morning carillon. The sun arising is a special glory, the same glory as the night they drove old Dixie down.

What seems always certain is music, like the music of the morning bells, or the heart that fills with gold. A friend of mine likes to gesture to some album covers and explain that, when he stays holed up in his room for days on end, “these are my best friends.” Mother Mary came to me one day in auditory form; I once heard her whisper into my ear on an early morning, after waking out of breath, hearing my panting echo ceaselessly, and suddenly, I heard her speak to me: “Come to me now, you know we’re so alone, and life is brief.” Another day, perhaps I will hear those eternal words: “The night they drove old Dixie down.” And another: “I will lay me down, I will ease your mind.” Those remarks are perhaps all that remain eternal in a vortex of flux and harmony.

Sounds are eternal once transfixed into the imagination, thus becoming irreplaceable as a true index of a time, place, and stillness. Sounds are endless once heard; that fading echo is illusory. Mother Mary stays with me wherever I go.

Please, Mary, come to me one time more. Tell me what you know, who has known you, who is saved and who is not; please, remind me to mind the gap, to not clutch the ledge, to hold on, to eat, to sleep, to wash up; please, save me, though I cannot believe; and perhaps then, God will look upon me and wonder whether to save a soul in disbelief twice, or only once and never again. Like they say: Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine. Mother Mary stays with me, and she told me her name. And her name is g-l-o-r-i… g-l-o-r-i-a.




G L O R I A . G - L - O - R - I - A .