The Inner Crab

Wraith's Elegy

Life is a process of losing our ethereality. We are born as ghosts, intangible; we are devoid of intelligence or wisdom, knowledge or experience. As we hurtle down the corridor, the particles of existence we pass through cling to us, like dew to the grass. Much of it evaporates before it has a chance to sink in, but some is absorbed, nourishing that essential core, that elemental thing that defines who we are and who we become. Our experiences delineate us, slowly, as we are built--layer by delicate layer--from the residue of the universe. It is not until we have made ourselves solid, or been made solid by our travels and travails, that we can really touch one another, really know one another. Until we have grown substantial and certain in our selfhood, our interactions are like zephyrs kissing--warm and passionate at the moment, perhaps, but passing quickly through and beyond one another as if we were summer breezes. Too often, ghosts join with ghosts, only to find (when they finally materialize) that the form of their lover was an illusion, and the reality is quite different and quite incompatible. Only when the flesh is whole can flesh and flesh, body and spirit, truly unite.

She was an ethereal girl, all right, at least on the outside. The edges of her being were wet, new, ill-formed despite her temporal beauty. But there was in her a solid nucleus, something which vibrated to the same galactic harmonies that I did. The corridor behind her was full, suffused with life and tears and sorrow, and despite her tender years she wore the trappings of adulthood like an unfamiliar undergarment--never quite comfortable with it, but aware that it was a part of her now and could not be removed for long. She was gentle and ardent, delightful and delightable, and as enraptured as I was by the journey we had embarked upon. We joined as an act of fluid fate, not planning the way we fell or the unity we fashioned, but waking one day with the knowledge that no other point in our lives had been so rich, so powerful with love. Time swept us along like leaves in the autumn breeze, and the weeks and months and years rushed past and faded comfortably into our collective history. We spoke always--of our hurts, of our desires, of our needs and expectations and of the exquisite peace of being in love. We planned and taught and learned from one another as the closest of lovers do. Her self-doubt and self-despite, remnants of her past pain, slowly began to melt in the warmth of our joy. She became my bedrock, my rising sun; she was the one element of certainty in my tumultuous world. The future lay before us, an unfurled blanket covering the horizon, filled with laughter and shared sorrows, with children and old age and eternity. We reveled in our love, as best we could, like explorers discovering a new country--excited at our realization, but unsure, unaware of the value of our discovery. As a thousand thousand lorn lovers have learned too late, it isn't until one's treasure turns up missing that one fully understands its worth.

Even given our neophyte approach to the gem we shared, it could have continued for aeons, until even the solid flesh was transcended, and no science or philosophy I had ever known had made more sense, been a sounder premise, than that. But the fate through which we joined was not truly interested in our eternal happiness. For there was in her a magic, a magic that captured me like the swiftest net snares the Monarch, but this magic--as all magic does--had its counter. Dark along the hind corridor of her life, the particular mixture of experiences and hurts and ordeals she had known proved to be a dangerous chemistry, and it became an acid that burned a yawning pit beneath her feet, and a storm that gathered and slowly boiled at the back of her mind. Her steady hand and steady gaze began to quake when she spoke to me, when she spoke to me. Clouds began to pass across her lovely face, and her steps began to falter. Her eyes grew distant and mournful, and the self-love that we had nurtured together like a young bud became a pale and sickly yellow. She fell, finally, and I watched her and called to her and ran to her, but she was a ghost again, and slipped through my grasp as a moonbeam through the branches of a tree. The light that had radiated from her, that had filled my life and caused my lush garden of joy to grow, slowly faded, as if swallowed by some other eclipsing body. The change that crept over her and into her crowded her love for me until it went away, to the refuge of her deepest heart where all of her pure sorrows went, and she was cold. She turned away from me then, her eyes unable to see me and her mouth unable to form my name, and because she could not, I wept for both of us.

And still there is a place beyond that vast and numbing anguish, because some essential marrow deep in the bones of my soul held my grieving flesh upright, like a battle-torn flag in the wind of time, until that wind had finally dried my tears. I stand always as a tribute to her love, temporal and fleeting though it was. I honor the touch of her lips on mine, the sparkle that once danced in her eyes for me alone, the breathless passion that has limned every angle and crag of my being. I am tinct with her essence, tempered by her love, and cannot see the world but through the eyes she gave me. Such a sun may never rise again, such a ghost may never cross my doorstep again, but in my heart she lives still, as long as I do.

Site Contents © 2004 Robert M. Rowan