†††††††† Forgiving presupposes remembering Paul Tillich
The shadow of a face, mouth drinking from an open palm. He changed his name and years later was still lost, curled in the core of another. You put down the receiver, pick up your rucksack and make your way through the crowd to the stinking metro. For years you have dreamed of this city, but now that you are here you only wish to be elsewhere. What is that wound youíre carrying now? A way of coming to terms as you walk up the narrow street. You give your name and passport at the reception desk. A door is opened into a bare room. She is already undressing. There's laughter from the stairwell. You have no one to turn to when itís over.
The bewildered pin of light in her eye. Music and voices in the cold night air. In a space neither internal nor objective, the bateaux-mouche drifts towards the bridge. You think of the piano in your fatherís house, untouched for years. She almost fell asleep under your touch. All that guilt for nothing, a gesture close enough to business as usual to be mistaken for it. When you cross to the other side of the river, down Rue St. Denis, past the whores with their whispered, ĎTu viens avec moi, mon petit?í The mask you learned to wear as a child. It was not the same at the Place des Invalides, red and yellow leaves swirling in late November sun. You thought you had left it all behind. To treasure the illusion of a voice, to be next to nothing.
Actually there is no answer at all to our question. I had hidden the handkerchief under the pillow so that no one could bother us seeking truth. Your voice changed over the years, but there was a flow that could be tracked throughout, as if dust could be found in your lap where I lay my head, a new sense of beginning, the road turning unexpectedly. Part of this was just tiredness as you stepped into the light, your smile suddenly forthcoming. Here in the mist our first response was always fear. So much exuberance in your style, as if it could be taken for granted, but this was just the shine on the product, staring coldly back at us.
Be whole again beyond confusion. All the people you abandoned reappear as shadows you have to walk across, a beginning still missing. The hand stretched towards you, a pause while you fumble in your pockets. The cry, when it comes, is yours. How that bird nods her head absurdly on overgrown paths, cobwebs sparkling in early morning sun. You were ready to abandon the present in its entirety, but was this really a new life, the area of your participation widened, or was it mere conversion to a creed, a rubber stamp on a notice pinned by the hand to your lapel, beyond repair? The thought too that this was really what you wanted all along, no desire enough for you to be complete, to lose and cry and be glad.
A Kind of Dying
Struggle to attain
waves of America
from the landing
I saw you
a little light
I didnít mean to
the walk by the bookstalls on the quay
not coming up to
you set store by
could lose it
again and again
not how in dreams
a hundred ways the
Copyright ©2006 by Green Integer and Ian Seed.
Born in Birmingham, United Kingdom, Ian Seed spent his childhood in Yorkshire, Wales and Leicestershire. He gained a BA Honours Degree in Philosophy from Nottingham University in 1979. For more than twenty years, he worked in Italy, France, and Poland as a teacher, translator, technical writer, and project manager. He returned to the UK to take an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University in 2003, and he now teaches poetry and creative writing.
†††† Seed began publishing poems in magazines in 1974 while still in high school. His first collection was In Rolling Red, 1975. This was followed by Excerpt, 1979 and Flung into Dust, 1980. He began writing prose poems in 1981 and published A Man of Some Influence in 1987. There was a long gap until The Stranger appeared in 2000 and Rescue in 2002.
†††† His future plans for publication include a book-length sequence of innovative prose poems and a translation of Pierre Reverdyís Le Voleur de Talan.