The Vanity of the Damned

 

THE VANITY OF THE DAMNED

I am going in again.
There are ghosts knocking
and I must greet them and speak awhile.
It may not be for long, but it will be for longing,
as the lover hopes his beloved remains after
the heart´s long break.
It could not be so otherwise.
That would kill the whole purpose,
wouldn´t it?
I am not so strong.
I long, but am required, at times, by
that great pull, to turn within
and stare at these barren hills
on the way to Krísuvík,
where the lake has a dark beach
and the mountains in the distance
are rarely without snow;

recovering from years of living
under the night, feeling noosed, though
standing tall, on a scaffold built by my own hands.
Standing tall,
alone, with the vanity
of the damned.

The roads alternate gravel and tar here,
rocky and pitted, and the curves
blind, making the journey dangerous and beautiful both.
Occasionally, those turns reveal
stout boulders, which, I have heard
have fallen more than once,
blocking the dark gravel roads
making winter travel even more
a challenge, reminding one of the old days.

I can sit along that rocky beach,
bluer than blue the sky
clean to perfection air cold,
then walk up the lumpy moss it borders,
until, atop the farthest hill
see nothing but more hills & snow, alas.
It needs to be this way at times.
The sun is bright and the sky brilliant,
broken only by a distant white jet trail.
Just below, near me, a bench
is placed near the road
where tourists take their cameras
and eat sandwiches while
their white and red walking poles are set
against the cars, waiting.

I am well, thank you.
It is not a problem, you see,
only my days feel limited
and there must be time to add
a different quiet to the bright afternoons before
winter´s coming; we are lucky for the sun now.
So I need to go.
The melting hills have amber shadows
and occluded spaces where caves are seen.
No trees or birds this far out and only the
sub-Arctic quiet on a day
that is warm where a mind
can wander over its remaining moments.
There are too few left
and too many have gone
to feel invincible,
though invincible we once were.

It is time to rest now. To linger over the snow and old lava,
sitting in the fresh Icelandic sun
with the old thoughts and new feelings.
To the west, the drying fish are set back
a distance from the road,
near the circle where blue garbage bins
wait for the attentive and considerate traveler.
Settled into a corner facing east, I
lift my face & watch that luminescent blue
eyes squinty and cold, but
not wet.
It is alright, I am going in again
away from all phone reach
and router signal
and I wait.
It will come on its own:
Sweeps of images and
specific phrases like:
“In every moment, I have danced
a parade of dreams.”
And, in time, these dreams
will awaken a new set of living words,
a new grasp of what is needed next.

kleifarvatn_2008_2

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