Moving through the bar, wondering why there was a jukebox, I naturally thought of falling to my knees.
I didn't go to bars. I didn't like bars. I didn't even like drinking. But here I was, thinking of a garden we’d walked through when everything was new.
I had fallen to my knees, like a poet, or a philosopher, or whichever profession exaggerated itself the most. I remember thinking that it was a silly thing to do, but then I had thought the same thing when I’d fallen for her.
Unsteady on my feet, the vision of people dancing dreamlike in my mind, I remembered how I hadn't loved her. A long time had gone by in perfect carelessness, in the power of thinking I could do without her. The most painful secret truth is that she was nothing to me.
I felt no attraction to her, no real tenderness even. I didn't even hate her. She was a Styrofoam woman, one of the crowded streams of mannequins that fill the traffic of our lives. I tried as hard as anyone to love each soul passing by, but as it is for all but God, it was a fantasy - a shallow dream brought on by liquor and loud music and being too young. Love is real, and love for everyone isn’t. Everyone didn't make me fall to my knees.
I was in Sierra Leone once. They liked to surf there, with their bodies. Someone tried to teach me how, but it was like trying to dance when you had never known joy. I had never known movement, not really. I had never run like my body was made to run. I could use my body, but it wasn't me.
I loved to dance, though. I knew my joy as I knew my desire. It’s how I made friends as I built houses and shopped for produce I had never seen at markets that looked as crazy as God must be. A rubble place, a moss place, a living place. You couldn't get away from the earth. The smell stayed with you, like the certainty of sirens in the city. Eventually you couldn't sleep without it.
I had lived in four cities, built houses, made friends who were better than me, learned that I was small, and all without falling to my knees as I did in the garden. And here I was swaying with a song on the jukebox, and maybe I would fall again.
I may have been born too late, but it’s the best of times to be out of time. Nowadays everything is caught in amber, but flesh. You can hear the past wanting. Not a memory but a feeling, one that’s stronger than what we live in now. This moment is paper, and we come out of water, and we can feel it. We can hear it on the jukebox, swaying us like liquor over beer.
I smell the basement bedroom. The stale life of a house that’s been around not long enough. Prefab, plastic, playful. Young as the hips beneath me - a generation, but no more. The old upstairs, deaf everywhere but in our quiet as we hid ourselves from them. ‘We have to be quiet’ you say, and the damp lemon smell as I pull off your clothes.
But once you were nothing to me. I had seen you and forgotten you, not cared to give a thought to you, not till someone I didn't know asked me if I did. I said I didn't, that day and every day after until it washed up like a tide surprising and I finally knew that I was wrong.
Then I was on my knees.
You told me to get up, and I told you it was beautiful. And you didn't understand, and I felt closer to you because I needed to bring this to you. You needed to see the light on the flowers in a row, and maybe I could bring it to you, and that's why I was here. Maybe I was a poet because I was your poet, a knight because you were a queen.
I tried to bring it all to you. I tried to make the garden stay. But here I am lost again, and dancing again with some other hips beneath me, and the jukebox is playing the past, and so you must be a memory.
I went to my knees to make myself up, and I made myself up to keep you. You brought me a garden, and I tried to bring it back to you. And in this moment there is music, and in this time I sway, and in the past that's everything it’s in your arms I stay. And now I must forget you, and now I have to dance, and now I have to find you, in some new garden past. But never will I see the light through flowers in the breeze, and never will I ever end up falling to my knees.