matt pond PA

November 18, 2017

In The Kingdom Of Natural Disasters.

Out under leafless trees, in the descending cold and dark, there are soft, sibylline conversations with myself. Gloved fingertips, like ten wriggling microphones, picking up the personal press conference. I run along palatial suburban streets, random trellises of bare maple branches, columns of stately pine, the guardian lions are just a couple beat-up trucks, built Ford tough. Immersed in fantasies, a luxury cruise to the corners of my mind.

A knight or nobleman, the king of my small kingdom. (At the core of an active imagination is the requirement that the main actor is actually real.)

To an intruder hiding behind boxes of unsold vinyl, my gray terry cloth robe might appear to be a black velvet cape as I traipse through unlit halls, a serpentine stairwell, banisters carved with depictions of Eden stretching down to earth. Down, down to the scullery. Down, down to the settling porch with a van seat chaise lounge.

There are so many ways to escape this world. But the only true path seems to be through an outdated, ragged mind. The pirates in the rafters shout, “Leave it all behind!” and pour syrupy mead on my head.

In the real world, an elderly woman pushes a trolley full of groceries to her car on a cold November afternoon. I look at her and mouth the word “hi.” She looks at me and looks down, moving faster. I am soon inside the store, and she is on her way home. But in that moment, it felt like she was embarrassed. Humbled by the life she lived, shy of her looks, the split-second balance of confidence and doubt in long life that I know nothing about.

It was beautiful and I was willing to worship her. If only we could’ve stopped and talked, maybe we would’ve found out more about each other and ourselves. Maybe we were supposed to fall in love and laugh about politics, adult diapers, bowling, gin rummy, sunlit porches with astroturf carpets, the enduring company of Johnny Carson.

Out on the Hudson, drifting away from the apocalypse in a ramshackle houseboat, covered in fake fur. Woolly, outwardly gruff and inwardly elegant. I see us with our telescopes and binoculars. Searching, and yet completely content. Another tin of spinach, another box of wine.

Love is harder than anything else. It is a mess. Bad timing, bad taste. Burnt dinners, loquacious mornings, silent nights. Strange smells on a shipwrecked bed, between half words and snores, surrounded by uncertain seas. The earth shakes, the waves rise, wind whips, rainfall floods, lava rushes up from the stormwater grates. To live for the disaster of love. That’s why we got tickets to the late night showing. That’s why we’re here.