Two days ago -- the morning after the rain
found the cold earth inhospitable, and rose
back into the sky -- I watched a man unravel.
He did not unwind, spinning out like a nebula;
he did not slump like a cored apple baking;
he did not scream like a burned man peeling.
Rather, he just kept walking into less
and less of himself.
A headwind herded leaves around his feet
as he walked. The wind parted around him,
or his hair and clothes simply refused to blow back.
As I watched, a single thread loosened itself
from his sweater, and began to worm its way through the air
before him. More threads loosened and crawled ahead
until his pants and face and shoes and hands blossomed
like rain clouds walking upright, raining down
the street. His outline had burst in front
like a flock of birds suddenly shaken back
into the air. He was not subsumed: every fiber
decided, then forded his body's blurring edge
like a salmon. Finally, he was just a sapling
still walking, and then the dispersing smoke
of human thread caught on the wind and washed
back through the body's path, dissolving like steam.
There are times in November, and sometimes people in them,
when it is necessary to defy the balance of mass
and imagination, and dissolve in the wind to save yourself.
It must have been November 1979, just two days before Thanksgiving, on a
very windy, chilly afternoon, with the newly experienced New England foliage
all but a cruel memory under thickening clouds, that I was rushing home near
the corner of Main and Washington streets in Middletown, Connecticut ... when
I witnessed a paradigm of despaired loneliness: a rather lightly dressed
middle-aged man, standing there behind several suitcases, yelled at me:
- Freeze to death, please give me a ride!
Several years away from my first car, I just kept walking faster...
[This page dedicated to a girl who came and
left with November.]