“Elegiac”

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“Burn” © C.P.Hickey 2018

 

There is a satisfying magic in gathering around a campfire. I suppose it’s been that way since the early days. People getting close, staying warm, telling stories. Community, for lack of a better term. Commuting to a communion.

An informal council of the ways and means we navigate through life. Reflecting on the many roads that led us to this very moment, and to this particular place. A respite from the busy lives we lead. It is certainly very nice to get away, from IT, whatever IT may be.

Being faced down with another version of ourselves. The “what if” version, the one that observes a deeper tie to the nature that is kept at bay by leading a life in the modernity of civilization.

Of course, this is a very watered down “what if” version. There are no real stakes, anyways. We all still have cell phones, there is a central office location, and we are not prey to a variety of animals.

So in modern day camping, we are afforded a certain level of security to be able to contemplate the very mortality which we would normally be unable to contemplate when being challenged by a harsh natural environment.

Nonetheless, a fire has a way of romanticizing that mortality, and lifelong friends treat the canopy of a forest campsite, as if it were the canopy of a cathedral, and often espouse the haunting sins of our souls that are profoundly more appropriate for a confessional box. Secrets of mind and heart, and more specifically, about the types of things that don’t get talked about on the regular.

Approaching, if not being smack in the middle of middle age, also conspires with campfire to bring about the conditions necessary to reflect deeply on all the life that has passed by, what’s left, and what will happen after we are gone.

Real moments of coming up against a truth that is obscured in the early part of your life, if you are lucky; simply, that life does not go on forever.

It is tough to wrap your head around this, and even harder to articulate among even lifelong friends, but, when in Rome…

During this gathering, the most significant contribution to acknowledging this inconvenient truth about life, arrived in the “What song do you want played at your service/wake/funeral?”

Apparently, a lot of thought has gone into this. It is a marvelous pre-need arrangement that many of us have considered, I’m sure. A sort of fantasy about death. What can I control, once I pass into not caring about what I control?

How can we be remembered, or summed up in a song?

This is an important last act, or a way to articulate to those left behind what you want them to think of you. An opportunity for them to contemplate their own mortality, and a chance to coddle the sorrow that your permanent absence provides.

I will not set specificity to the selections made by my cohorts, but rest assured, there is a good range of emotion that comes of sharing this information. There is validation, assent, quizzical looks, and downright empathy.

The careful listening and reflection of chosen songs truly humbles. It is a hard acknowledgement that it does end.

But, not just yet. Beers sipped, logs added to the blaze, mortality snatched from the brink. And, as timing usually goes when victory is advanced,  park security comes along and reminds us that the campfire curfew is in effect and we need to extinguish the fire.

Poetic, really.

The sounds that an extinguishing campfire makes are quite dramatic. Leaving one with a sense that the cold will now approach, and make it harder to sleep.

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“Effemine”

“Path” © C.P. Hickey 2017

“Effemine”

I went up to the country with Effemine.

We brought a basket of wine and cheeses.

The sky was blue and well intentioned.

On the way to our spot, we got lost in the woods.

I found it, after some backtracking.

We took the wrong trail upon Effemine’s insistence.

I knew we were going the wrong way, but there was no use in making a fuss.

When we finally arrived to the clearing,

I spread the quilt out, just so.

We started to unpack our basket.

I grabbed her face in my hands and looked into her eyes with fierce love.

Then I kissed her hands tenderly.

Her countenance grew still, suddenly agitated.

Something seemed to be bothering my love.

She withdrew her hands from mine when she discovered that I forgot to pack the napkins. She cruelly admonished me for forgetting to pack them.

They were ivory colored and of a fine cloth, coveted by my sister.

I must have left them on the counter.

Effemine is quite particular about things.

I don’t like to get her angry.

Sometimes she ignores me for days.

The sky grew overcast, and the wind picked up.

Effemine’s bonnet came undone, and suddenly blew off her head.

I chased it to the riverbank, and cringed as it darted into the rolling water.

I looked back, Effemine was angrily pointing at the fleeing bonnet.

Without another thought I jumped into the river, even though I can’t swim.

With a few wild movements I came within reach of her hat, and before I could grasp it, it vanished below the surface.

I returned to the riverbank, much wetter than before.

Glaring, Effemine stood expectant.

Empty-handed I returned.

She said nothing, and kicked the wine bottle over, and violently picked up an end of the quilt overturning it.

I can only imagine how I looked to her, as I stood there soaked.

She turned about and made her way back to the path, as I hurriedly tried to gather all of our things.

The kisses of raindrops started to fall upon my wet skin.

Suddenly, I heard a shriek and a dull dud.

A short distance from me, my Effemine had fallen off of the path.

I ran as fast as I could to her side.

She was motionless, and face down.

I grabbed her up into my arms and rolled her over in one movement.

Finished.

Upon her face resides the blankest and darkest stare I’ve ever witnessed.

Her eyes, lightless.

No breath from her lips.

Large swelling redness growing from her forehead to her temple.

No!

Hot tears competed with the cold rain now falling.

Gone.

I went back to the basket and grabbed the quilt, then returned to cover her before I left to get help.

My Effemine, lost her hat, then her life.

I lost, my Effemine.

There was nothing to do, nothing I could do.

No more.

Training Day

In the age of distraction, I find that I hold great responsibility for my fellow citizens. Today, three people almost walked into me as they had their heads in the screens of their smart phones. If not for my well placed “Hey-he-he-hey!”

They would have crashed and burned.

Iced coffee, backpacks, dioramas, cupcake tents, and New Yorker canvas bags tucked inside of Lulu Lemon bags would be all over the trafficked floor of the Green Line Trolleys.

I’m working on an app that let’s you walk around without ever having to pick your head up from your phone. As you near a fellow content consumer, you are given a series of clickable choices that further envelopes your attention, while at the same time directing you around all proximal dangers through the use of new heat sensory and intelligence measurement devices.

My tag line to get people to buy the app: don’t worry if it’s warm or dumb, we’ll guide you through the crowd, you’ll never have to change your gaze, surfing peacock proud.

I looked down the train to my left. Then I looked down the train to the right. The silent majority is grabbing inspiration from glowing palms. The zombie apocalypse is already upon us folks, and I can’t stop myself from turning.