April 4 — In the early hours, the ancient loneliness arrives. Come in, I say, make yourself at home. Let’s not pretend, it says, you wish I’d never come. I remind you of too much you’d rather forget. No, no, I insist.


April 8 — Melancholy, contemplating my death. I ask C. if she thinks she’ll be there. Yes, she says, with intuitive certainty. This means she wants to be with me a long, long time, I think, satisfied. Then I wonder. Maybe she intuits I’m going to die soon. Not much commitment in that. Will you be sad? I ask. This is hilarious. It’s my grandmother wanting to know if I’ll be sad when she dies, loss the measure of love, missing someone the measure of devotion.


April 10 — I must remember how sensitive the children are to any harsh words from me. I’ve learned to be a father without yelling or spanking. I’m still learning how not to criticize them for being who they are. Diminishing them in any way has nothing to do with being firm, or showing them a “better way.” It surely isn’t love.


April 11 — I drop into the silence, then scamper away — as if I were under water and could only hold my breath for so long, or on another planet, unsure of the atmosphere.


April 14 — Talking about my thoughts often takes me away from my feelings. Why such a premium on expressing myself? Why not the slow fire, the inarticulate longing, the vision without a mouth? Talking about what’s “wrong.” Do I ever really know? Pain like the skins of an onion.


April 19 — Reshad Feild writes, “I need to know I am loved.” It’s everyone’s need. Not the impermanent sentimentality most call love, or the passing infatuation with one’s own good intentions usually called loving oneself. But love, felt as a steady light, undimmed by where we are or who we’re with or whether we have words for the occasion.


April 22 — These extra pounds: is this the padding I need to keep me from the pain of living? I miss the real taste of me this way — the heart’s dry crust, the tough ambition. I miss the emptiness. Figurative. Literal.


April 24 — God’s bread we are, chewed a hundred times before being swallowed. Or is it a million? Arguing whether life is sharpness of tooth, or sweetness of tongue.


May 11 — Poem for C.

You lie beside me,
missing your parents,
missing the far away
harbor of your childhood,
its smell of salt and plank,
familiar gull circling,
missing the old horizon
of your life you’ve sailed beyond —
a woman now,
so someone said,
a great white sail,
a driving wind,
moving forward,


May 12 — Irritable, tired. Almost sick. “Sickness is a defense against truth,” A Course In Miracles says. What truth am I hiding? What’s behind this boasting, this bathing in a glorified self-image of “really feeling” who I am? Why talk about it? Why make visits with friends into benchmarks? Why do I need to be someone who keeps changing “for the better.” Isn’t this another kind of performing, dressed up as a “need for affirmation”?


May 25 — Enough
                                      for C.

Something dark flew from
a high window. I chased
it, my desire leaping.
I chased it all the way
to you, my meditation
turning like a wheel,
turning into hands.
“I’m too sleepy,” you said,
and to my surprise,
it didn’t matter.
I lay there, smiling,
smelling your hair.
It was enough for me.
I thanked the lamb of kindness
for visiting me twice today.


May 31 — Why are we here? To understand? Who can understand the peculiar predicaments of a lifetime? Ten or twenty years spent on the edge of a familiar dilemma — what does this have to do with the kind of understanding cherished by the rational mind? But it surely deepens our compassion.


June 8 — We drive to the mountains to see Mara’s first ballet recital. I hardly recognize her, she’s so heavily made up, thick eye shadow and full red lips, a woman’s face on a seven-year-old’s body, her steps awkward and graceful, head held high — her mother had told her to keep her head up; she carries herself with exaggerated poise, dutiful. The dance itself is brief, a few twirls and shuffles, arms out primly. And then it’s over. Brief as childhood.


June 16 — I’m at the office early, shaping the issue, whose psychic pivot turns out to be men and women, women and men, men and men. Sometimes it happens this way, a loud rapping at the door of THE SUN. Did we order this? I guess so.

I left C. with a kiss, whispered endearments. Now she’s as far away as she can be, over the astral mountains and across the astral seas. Maybe she’ll bring back a postcard or an unspent coin, a piece of dark bread from the emperor’s kitchen, the smell of a man I can’t be jealous of, because he hasn’t yet been born.


Father’s Day — Dear Father

Who lives on in the bones of me,
in the nightly scourings of dream,
Father of desire and the unquenchable flame,
who sets me ablaze with longing and brings me
water to drink,
who watches me through these eyes and blinds me
a thousand times a day with the flashing looks
of the world —
these bewitching eyes of a world hot for me,
its jungle beat my name, syllable upon syllable,
mountain sound I scale with great leaps,
calling my own name again and again
until the world has turned into me
and my loneliness fills the world,
every song sung, every magic done ­—
Father who ends magic and brings stillness,
Father with the gift of peace I’ll never name,
though try and try and try,
with the sweat of my brow Father of the bent back,
with the fragrance of time Father of the roses,
with the curl of persuasion Father of the wave,
Father of me dead so long,
Father who gives me breath,
Father above me angry eyes burning
Oh dark dark flame
calling me Son.

                                                                                                    — Sy