A Kaleidoscope Soul

Clanging barbels and racing treadmills fill the heat soaked air inside the gym, where the broken air conditioner makes each step that much harder. I run facing the street, with windows twice my height mirroring back my image and giving me a view of the outside world. I count trains and cars and pedestrians to keep the time moving, trying to ignore the burning in my legs and chest. A car stops at the light, and now I’m distracted. The headlights are evenly placed to where they appear to shine out from the reflection of my own eyes. Is that what the philosophers meant when they told us that the soul of a person shines out of their eyes? Or the artists who say that the eyes are the window to the soul? I find I can hardly believe that remark. If it were true, there is no possible universe where my soul would be such a pure color. I have felt too much, seen too much, done too much for it to be simply white. No. I envision it to be a kaleidoscope of colors and hues, both darkness and light bound together in a triumphant dance. My passions and despairs, my aspirations and fears, the parts of me I gladly show the world and the pieces I hide away from view; all are too complex, too interdependent, too vast to be condensed to one single stream of light. Then I wonder what mine would look like to other people, would it be breathtaking and beautiful, heartbreaking and terrifying, or something completely different? And what then of the rest of the world? What if we knew the soul of a person by the lights in their eyes? What if les amoureux have discovered the secret, that they have discovered the ability to see past a person’s pupils and into their soul?

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Poetry Sunday: William Blake

The Tyger by William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 

What immortal hand or eye 

Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies 

Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 

On what wings dare he aspire? 

What the hand dare sieze the fire? 

And what shoulder, & what art. 

Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 

And when thy heart began to beat, 

What dread hand? & what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain? 

In what furnace was thy brain? 

What the anvil? what dread grasp 

Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 

And watered heaven with their tears, 

Did he smile his work to see? 

Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 

In the forests of the night, 

What immortal hand or eye 

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? 

Wind Chimes

Silver pipes played by the hand of the wind are a permanent fixture at my home. The clanging echoes around our house, keeping me company in the quiet hours of the night. Deep tones come from the old sliding glass door at the deck, while a higher pitched song dances from the green front door. Sometimes storms roll through and throw the chimes into a frenzy. And other times, when the air is still and the sun is high in the sky, the chimes stand silent to listen to the crashing ocean across the street. 

Mortality Doesn’t Suit You

Every so often there will come a midnight

Where you shall long for the release of the innumerable stars

Bursting apart in every part of you.

And your blaze too dazzling

For the world to look upon your light.

And sometimes you shall believe you’ve become

Unimaginably insignificant

Like the fissures between the world and the sky

Could swallow you without a thought.

And you would disappear.

Then other times you shall become as glass

Fragile and broken to pieces with the slightest provocation.

And other midnights you will amass Herculean strength

That holds together the fabric of the world. 

And you will discover that you are all of these things,

You always have been.

You are the brightest light, the smallest atom,

The daintiest glass, the strongest ties.

You become the pieces of the universe

And you realize that you are so much more alive 

To ever simply be mortal flesh.

-22

17:00

The world dashes about outside my window

the cold air pressing its nose against the pane.

I sit in near silence, warming my hands and face and toes.

My driver is sweet and obliging,

talking of weather and daily generalities.

In his speech I detect an accent, 

sleeping among the English words,

tingeing them in a strange hue.

He asks me a question, and I reply,

“Je comprends ce que tu dit.”

His eyes dart to me in the rearview mirror,

a new light shining in them,

the light that bursts forth in recognition of a kindred spirit.

A moment later, the dam erupts and words strung together

trip over each other in his haste to hear his mother tongue.

Rapid fire, back and forth we send our comments.

How much I’ve missed this language,

this tongue as familiar as my own. 

The conversation ends abruptly

when at my destination we’ve arrived,

I’m at loathe to leave and still I bid farewell

in the hopes that I have raised his spirit,

and given joy to a man who might otherwise

be seen as incoherent.

-22

06:00

The small bathroom is warm from the heat of the radiator, condensation gathering on the cold window panes. Locking the door behind me, I turn the water on, wincing at the seemingly deafening sound of the water striking the tub in the early hour. Steam rises in delicate swirls, twining about itself into the cool air, disappearing in wisps.

I toe off my trainers and set them outside the door. Shucking my sweat suffused clothes into a pungent pile, I step into the hot water, letting it flow over my aching muscles. The quiet room fills with the smells of my shampoo and soap, the scents mingling pleasantly. I scrub my body until I no longer smell of the gym, and then stand under the scalding stream (apparently the water pipes can’t decide on an even temperature).

My skin is bright red from the heat when I step out and wrap the towel around myself. I wipe down the mirror and see that my cheeks are flushed to match the colour of the sunrise. Back in my room, I move quietly through the motions of my morning routine. Almost automatically I start the Insta-Kettle, force pomade through my still-damp hair, rub lotion over my legs and arms.

Light cascades in through the window, finally breaking over the top of the buildings across the street.

I stand as a sentinel dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, watching the street covered in its ghostly pallor.

-22

02:00

Snarled together in adoration beneath the glittering stars she is greeted by the chaos of her beloved.

This is the hour for questions that haunt us in the quiet moments. It’s for the answers and declarations we fear to say aloud in the light of day. It’s for the undeniable truths that slip from our tight grip and fall softly from our sleep suffused lips. 

It’s the ideas that rouse us from dreams, those that compel us to scramble for pen and paper, scribbling before they are whisked away. It’s in the darkness of 02:00 that we truly know who we are, under pale moonlight, where the mantle dividing dream and reality falls, letting the dance of day fade into the night’s grasp. 

In the dominion of the shadow, we cling firm to memories of radiance. In slumber’s sovereignty we tread delicately, careful not to awaken the nightmares and monsters hiding behind our dreams.

-22