Adele Kenny recalls an evening with friends and the complex intersections of companionship and loneliness which emerge when we are simultaneously connected and disconnected.
… in this loneliness
I have no idea what year it was, but long ago when Joe
(who ground tools on the night shift) called in sick and
showed up early with a half-cooked ham that we sliced and
fried. There were seven or eight of us, maybe ten: Deborah,
Alex, Charlie and Charlie’s wife (who brought a basket of
oranges). After we ate, we talked and sat until nearly dawn;
there was wine, of course, and beer—we drank, we
smoked. Someone read a poem by Rod McKuen, and we all
booed, then one of us (was it Deborah?) read André
Breton’s “Always for the First Time.” We closed our eyes
and nodded (the memory says in unison, but probably not).
Joe played his guitar and sang about grief and, because he
made it up as he went along, it sounded like an Irish
lament, so some of us cried until Edie began to sing about
porpoises and orifices—every off rhyme that night a holy
thing in the shifting distance between songs: something
Charlie said about ice, something Joe said about God. That
night, Joe discovered a spire of moonlight inside my pine
tree, professed and praised between boughs. And one star’s
white suddenness stunned us all the way a pearl disorients
I think of Edie (God-knows-where in Pennsylvania) and
Charlie dead—things we did (and almost did), the shook
sidewalk of when, what we call was, what we thought we
knew—so close to listening—the ladders we built to stand
under (and fell from).
Schweitzer said, We are all so much together, but we are
all dying of loneliness. (That’s how it was with us.) Merton
said, … it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities
begin. And so it began—us at the curb waving each other
home—waving, praying for what we were, what we might
become—and loneliness still our best defense.
Previously published in A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All (Welcome Rain Publishers, 2015)
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