Darkness haunts the mad with possibility.
We sit by candlelight and breathe into the flame, hoping to cast shadows across our minds that somehow explain the mysteries hidden from our eyes. In shadows there is truth, in shadow there is escape, but it is the tortured freedom of a maze, an oblivion of motion that is too controlled to offer relief.
We seek escape, and it hurts us more—we only yearn to be constrained by something worthy.
I brush the hedges as I run past, I feel the oceanic smoothness of the leaves even as they scrape my palms. Release, release, release, freedom from it all, something pulls me deeper into myself. How funny it is, that the more earnestly we yearn to be free that the more embroiled and entangled we become.
I careen down roads like mazes, trees rising up in the evening dark to catch me with the arms only the foolish see as peaceful. How slow, how lumbering we humans must appear to ants, how solid a presence we must be in their brief lifetimes, as constant as trees are to us.
Everything is savage in its own context.
I tear at myself with hands too hopeless to expose me.
Nothing is offered but illusion, and what is more true than that?
I can feel the hushed tones of the branches whipping at me as I hurtle past, tires squeaking on the tight curves in the Santa Cruz mountains, inertia telling me more about the shape of the land than I could ever see. Moments of clarity through the trees. Blue-misted mountains rising as if thick-bodied snakes from some sort of nightmare and then shrouded by the dark sentinels of night once more, sunset long since a thing of the past.
It must make sense, somehow it must, but I can’t see it, the glimpses are nothing but dreams that I wish I had.
Being lost brings a panic, panic is a feeling, a feeling is something I can hold onto. Nothing terrifies me as much as numbness. In numbness there is nothing to grasp, nothing to hang the sorrows of the world upon, no vision to be formed from the pain.
The road narrows to intimate—people live here, in this foreign mist, there are others in this great striving for meaning lost in the same place in which I wander. Wander, wander.
What a beautiful word, what a terrible word.
Serpentine, it slithers through the mountains like they are a body, I can feel them wrapped in sibilant coils around my heart, pulling me somewhere I cannot see. In the end, everything comes down to this unseen map, about which I’m just trying to feel.
But they don’t want to, they don’t want me to feel and to bring them with me and say, look! There is something, you’re wrong, come with me, feel the salt on your tongue and the dirt we should worship and the water that understands, they turn away afraid and alien to me and I am left to talk alone to the trees. This oneness is sacred, this unity with myself that gives me an illusion I can believe in. The delicacy of the world is on my skin and I can feel it in that smooth spot between my fingers and it tells me everything there is to believe in, but because I am human I only hear echoes of its beauty.
And so I drive, I drive and I drive and I drive, waiting to feel broken so I need another person to fix me.
And all the while there is nothing but the trees twisting their fingers into my soul and pulling me into their majesty, and the curve of the earth rises beneath me and with the scent of my name on the breeze there is nothing that can match this ecstasy.
Author: Cordelia Duff
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Susanne Nilsson at Flickr