For he was old and his face nuzzled reluctantly against the carpet. Resigned he sighed. And with a spurt of youth, throwing out all four legs, he turned against gravity and the cushion from which he fell. He resigned again. Poor Fella. I helped him up and he wobbled and sneezed and shook out his fur.He was my comfort and I his. I paced and he paced with me. I was sitting, then standing, then shouting and he sat at my feet and I petted him until he laid down. I paced and he watched.
The air was warm with a little breeze and the sky moved sluggish spreading like fresh linens as the shadows leaned like old men against their canes, slanting in feverish hues across the sweating cement.
I walked fast. I walked fast through the crowds and the rising rumble. Bands setting equipment and groups handing out flyers. All kinds of groups. For anything imaginable. Groups for things you didn’t even know existed.
I walked fast up two flights, taking two steps at a time. Arriving early I sat down to read C.S. Lewis. He speaks to me like he’s in the room. I’d call him Old Chap. We’d smoke pipes together. He’d tell me about Tolkien. About writing. About his wife.
“It’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy,” he said. “Finally, dirty, and disgusting.”
I’d say puffpuff holding back tears.
“Meanwhile,” he said, “where is God?”
“We were interrupted by my class. Anne Tyler and E.E. Cummings. They spoke to me, but I didn’t speak back. I will though. I’m just chiseling my words.
“I really like your voice.” That’s what she said. “But I won’t give you an A until you say more.”
I wanted to say I don’t have anything more to say. She underlined the phrase: “The story has multiple refractions and implications,” and she said “Good Phrase”. I knew it was when I wrote it, but I didn’t know what it meant. I just meant there’s a lot of stuff here and it was more an excuse that I didn’t know what else to say.
I don’t have much to say I guess, but I say it well.
When it was over I left and I walked fast through the crowd, through the groups, through the colorless music. And then time slowed. And I tried to speak with the Old Chap but my eyes grew heavy and I closed them in the middle of the floor.
If I could give you words then I would never stop writing and all the poems and novels would be yours lying open at your feet. Pages spread reaching to hold your eyes in never ending sentences. No commas to separate us, just quotations to capture the sound of your voice, the voice of your eyes. Your beauty is the poet’s envy, scratched out in eager black that runs, does nothing to compare the sun of you, the moon and stars of you, the forever ocean of you.
The heavy door shut hard behind me and the sun lagged, looking lost. I walked fast again. The old men switched hands and leaned the other way, the cement perspired.
“Where you going so fast?” They asked.
“To see about a girl,” I said.
They said, “Don’t slow down.”
Poor Fella didn’t notice my entrance. He lifted his head from time to time from the cushion. A baby cried outside. I turned the volume down. My head hurt and I paced.
I remembered my earlier conversation with Old Chap.
“I was never less silly than as H’s lover,” he said. Helen he meant. Helen Joy.
The dog and I paced some more. I was screaming at the announcer on the television. Old Chap said: “Her voice is still vivid. The remembered voice — that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child.”
Poor Fella looked up at me with sad eyes. The game was over and I left frustrated. I crossed the cement again.
“Where you headed?” The leaning shadows asked.
“To see about a girl.” I said.
“Don’t slow down.”
The big door closed behind me hard and the old men were resting now inside the building, resting like Poor Fella, with their canes to their side looking up at me and wondering with sad eyes.
I walked fast up the stairs to my flat. Two at a time.
Old Chap said, “Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
I lifted Poor Fella onto the cushion and I felt better. The pounding in my head lessened. The frustration fell. I paced and shouted at the television. The voice of your eyes is what I saw. What I heard. I remember it so clearly not long ago. Taking two steps at a time to the door.
“Where you headed?” the night shadows asked and I said I didn’t know. But the door opened and your eyes spoke. So sweet I melted, so loud it hurt. And then I knew where I was headed and I walked fast.
Nothing I say hasn’t been said before, or so it seems, some unoriginality I contain in small phrases. It feels like a children’s game I can’t win. The jacks I can’t grab with trembling hands. I sit with the lonesome background of white walls and brown tile, with dying light bulbs and mourning skies and winter hurts her heel and cries and curses at me. But now I walk fast as the seasons skips in millions of directions, trillions upon trillions, and infinite; infinite upon infinite.
Where you headed?
To see about a girl, I say.
Walk fast, says Poor Fella with sad old eyes.
“Feelings, and feelings, and feelings,” Old Chap said. “Let me try thinking instead.
I hear the voice of your eyes.
I think I’ll walk faster.